CDT NM 6th Section

Day 166: Cuba

I didn’t sleep in this morning, really. I just lay awake shivering in my sleeping bag. It was as cold as the previous morning was supposed to have been, and for some reason, despite placing my tent right in the middle of a wide clearing, it remained in the shadow of the trees well after sunrise.

It was cold enough a goodly layer of frost had formed on the ceiling of my inner tent. There was frost on the ground across the entire clearing and anything that stuck out from under the rainfly. When I did start getting ready for the day, I tried to do all the things I could do while mostly still in the sleeping bag and with my gloves on.

When I was finally ready and packed, it was 9:40. I didn’t end up leaving any sooner even though I woke up earlier just because of the cold.

Within a half mile of camp, I reached a nice stream with a deep pool. One of the hikers who had already passed me that morning had been kind enough to break the layer of ice across the surface. I filled a bag with water and tossed it on my pack, but kept hiking. It was certainly a waste of effort as I was hiking next to water for the entire morning.

The trail was level to slightly downhill all morning, patches of snow on occasion. The cold wind and the clear sunny skies together meant I could keep my coat and gloves on all morning and not get overheated, though sometimes just a bit warmer than I would like.

I was feeling uncomfortable from the way my pack sat around the time I reached the Cienega Gregorio (San Gregorio Reservoir) but I wasn’t hungry yet, so I did not stop. When I reached the trailhead parking area for San Pedro Parks, I was definitely ready to drop my pack. It was a strange spot, with a sign that said not to picnic there even though there was a picnic table and another sign that said no trash service right next to a trash can. I was very happy to see and use the privy there, and what with lunch immediately after at aforementioned table, I ended spending nearly two hours there.

The descent out of the mountains continued after, and I didn’t break again until the stream at the foot right before I joined the first road. I saw that I could make it to Cuba in time for supper if I hurried, though it would mean an extra expenditure to sleep there, but the alternative was stopping early right where I was with no good camping in sight. The remaining five miles to town was all road walk. I decided to go for it. It would be a waste of daylight if I didn’t.

In two miles, I reached the highway proper, though it wasn’t particularly busy. It was still painful and annoying to walk down the side of a low-shouldered paved road. I stuck out my thumb at every passing vehicle, but most were work trucks or expensive vehicles and there were only a handful of them anyway. I ended up walking the entire 3 miles to town, arriving just as the last of the dusk turned into night proper. My feet were killing me. I went straight to the Mexican restaurant across the street that I knew would be open for one more hour.

They didn’t seem understaffed. They had a full house and servers running every which way. But still they made me stand in the entrance with my pack on for five minutes with my dogs screaming about the asphalt and every couple of minutes a server passing to say they’ll get to me eventually. And then they let me sit with the menu for fifteen minutes once they seated me. Once they finally decided to take my order, the food came pretty quickly, but I have no idea how they were all so disorganized as to have so many people accomplishing so little. I wanted to eat fast and get out before they closed, but I was there some fifteen minutes after closing thanks to their own delays.

This is where the real adventure started. Since I was in town and it was night, I needed a motel room. I walked down to most CDT hiker friendly motel, but it was closed. Calls to the other two revealed the only one with rooms available was cash only and cost more cash than I had. A trip to the ATM failed to get cash from my expired debit card or cash advances from credit cards with unknown PINs. There was no option for cash back from a credit card at the Family Dollar, but the guy working the register there agreed to give me cash in exchange for filling his gas tank and buying him some Skoda at the gas station across the street. The store was about to close anyway. It took some thirty minutes to get all this worked out, but I managed to scrape together enough cash

I got checked into the motel after the guy gave me a lift there. I dropped my pack and put on the heater inside. Then I realized I left the drinks I had just bought in the beach of his truck and walked back to the Family Dollar to get them. (It was basically across the street, a fact we didn’t realize before I let him give me a lift.) I carried the drinks back and turned on the power to the minifridge then started getting undressed for the shower.

It was nice to get clean, but the shower couldn’t maintain temperature consistency and had very low flow because of a weird messed-up shower head. So I was either too cold or getting burnt the whole time, but it beat freezing completely, so I ended up staying in there a while. Then I started writing this post but got too sleepy to finish. It was pretty much midnight by the time I got to sleep.

Trail miles: 18.6

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