CDT NM 3rd Section

Day 18: Trick Tank

Even though I was on a 9000 foot mountain taller than all its neighbors and I had bundled up in my bag with all my long johns on in expectation of cold, I was quite toasty in my tent. There was very little breeze. In short, there was nothing stopping me from getting up with the sun except I was sleepy from getting in late.

Still, I sort of kind of started putting things together and getting ready. I was slowed by the fact that I had forgotten to close the valve on my water hose the previous night and some small amount of water needed to be wiped off my mat and the tent floor. The sun was shining right through my tent wall urging me to hurry up. It was a bit after 6:30 by the time I started hiking.

I was a bit worried about water. Lunar had told me there would be no water on trail until Trick Tank 14.5 miles away. That would be at least 6 hours of hiking on the water I had left unless I could find some along the way that he hadn’t.

The first try was Diamond Peak Spring, just below where I slept. No luck. I couldn’t even find the thing. It used to be marked, but fires and wind had rearranged the area. And the area was dry.

So I started down the ridge. It was mostly downhill, but when it was uphill it was steep. There were views everywhere to the extent that I passed up taking pictures of some of them worried I was taking too many.

I was counting down the miles and the minutes and keeping my breaks short (and drinking slightly less during them than I usually would), hoping to catch lunch by some pools of water in the stream bed running siren the canyon the trail entered after 9 miles.

No luck. The pools had dried up since last month. I was going to have to go all the way to Trick Tank, another 5 miles, with the water I had. I couldn’t drink a while quart of water at lunch like I normally like to do.

Speaking of lunch, it was about noon when I came to the place where two canyons and their dry stream beds meet. And there I scared a cow. She was down in the ravine I was walking the edge of, and I saw her long before she saw me. She jumped and turned toward me, melt turning to face me as I passed. I stopped for lunch in a shady spot on the bank just would-be-upstream of her. I’m pretty sure she watched me the whole time I was eating. But I was too distracted by all the flies to really pay attention.

Coming out of that ravine, the trail crossed a road it used to turned down. The long road walk was replaced last fall by a steep climb over the hill to meet the road on the other side. It was shorter, but it was uphill almost the whole way, and frequently at a 30 degree incline or better. I was hesitant to drink, but I had to to get over that hill.

It felt like an unusually long 2 miles from where the new trail ended to the hill where Trick Tank sat. It went by quickly in absolute terms, and it seemed like I still had plenty of water, but the anticipation was getting to me, especially when I reached the steep climb just before the tank. I had to go all the way to the top of the hill on the trail and look back down way off trail to finally see it.

I spent most of an hour at the tank having a water party. It was a wide tank with a shallow pool of algae filled water in it covered by a fiberglass lid that kept it from evaporating while still allowing rain to flow in from the edges. Even knowing every animal in the area probably drank from it and seeing the dead moths floating in it, I was tempted to hide from the sun by taking off my boots, crawling into the tank, and just lying in the shade in the cool water. It had been a bit overcast all day, but the clouds had chosen this hour to thin out a bit.

Luckily, water is a great way to combat the heat even if you just drink it. I started by filtering directly into my Nalgene until it was full, tossed in a couple of Nuuns (blueberry orange), and emptied an Arizona honey ginseng green tea flavor into it. I took that to the shade with my snacks and drank it all while filtering into my water bag.

I carried away a full water bag when I hiked out–way more than I needed. And of course I poured some water all over my shirt too. It’s the only way to end a water party.

The trail was mostly downhill from the tank except for one short and, compared to the earlier climb, gentle uphill bit. I walked for about two and a half hours, and even started listening to a podcast on my one remaining functioning pair of headphones. I stopped just before 6 for supper, which is earlier than usual but I was getting hungry already and there was a nice picnic spot. In dropping my pack, the strap caught my headphone wire and gave it a good snatch without pulling it out of my ears or phone. That amount of tension is all it takes to complete shut down a one dollar set of headphones. But hey, I got two days of use out of them, sort of! That’s pretty good for cheap headphones on the trail.

I was much less excited about hiking after dinner. I had no excuse not to since there was still daylight to burn, but my feet were hurting. So I walked on, mostly downhill again, from 6:30 until a bit before 8, when I decided I’d had enough and spotted a good campsite. This time, instead of starting right away on the tent, I started by taking off my shoes and socks and popping and taping over the blisters I had made that day. It had been a long one, and my boots still aren’t a perfect fit.

It started cooling off after 9, once I was in my tent. The coyotes sang me to sleep well before 10pm.

At least the next day would be a town day. A little bit of social interaction and self-care before starting an even longer and more strenuous section.

Trail miles: 22.4

3.3 miles to the highway!

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