My last day on the trail, I did not feel particularly eager to start hiking. I did wake up in the middle of the night again (feeling a bit stuffy and confined and needing to lose some heat and get a cool breath), but I got plenty of relatively comfortable sleep or half-sleep, tossing and turning a bit to stay comfortable until 8am. For no particular reason except that I was being lazy, I didn’t start hiking until 10 (once I found my way back to the trail–it would be incredibly easy to get lost on the Acoma Pueblo as it looks exactly the same in every direction).
A painful hour later (thanks to the ongoing toe issues), I stopped for a snack break, realized I was close to the edge of the plateau, convinced myself to keep going, came to the edge, rang the bell, descended to the trailhead. I sat on a rock in the shade and ate an early lunch and contemplated the five mile highway walk into Grants. But while I ate, a man drove in with a dog and let it run around a bit. And then when I was done and I went to toss my entire bag of trash in the bin, we got to talking for a while.
His name was Kenneth and his dog was some unfathomable name starting with a B. The dog was mostly Czech Wolfhound. The man lived in the hills on the other side of Grants. After a long discussion of geology, history, and dogs, the dog was ready to leave and so was I. I asked him for a ride into town. He dropped me at Smith’s, the grocery store, and I stocked up on treats to celebrate the end of my hiking season and carried them back to Lava Flow Hostel, where I had reserved the same room.
The folks I had met in the previous section were there, and after a long shower and putting my clothes in the washer, I hung out for a while with Chile Pepper and Loose Leaf having snacks in the front yard. Ross soon joined us with a keypad lock that Home Depot had not removed the theft prevention device from. The alarm it made when the cord was cut was surprisingly quiet and stopped after a surprisingly short time (10 minutes). It had not tripped any alarms coming out of the store. I think it’s safe to assume you really don’t have to work too hard to shoplift from Home Depot.
I hung my clothes to dry and put my jacket in the wash even though the entire clothesline was already in the shade and the sun was on its way out. In fact, it was soon so cool out that the party moved back inside the cottage. Loose Leaf started making cookies and I took a call. Soon, My Trail Name Is Jesse showed up and I left to have dinner at the steakhouse.
Despite the signs saying No Mask No Service and the fact I had left mine drying on the clothesline, they seated me no problem. I ordered the Carne Adobada and a ribeye no sides. The former was pretty great, the latter nothing to write home about but not bad. They wanted to charge me full price for the steak dinner even though I had turned down the potatoes and salad. Apparently 26 dollars was the price of the 10oz of steak alone, the fries and salad were free. So even though I was stuffed silly and had no interest in eating them, I had them bring me the fries and salad to go. I walked back to the hostel and left them in the dorm house for anyone to eat, but I don’t think anyone ever did. I put my jacket on the line even though it was dark out and went back to the back cottage.
It was brimming full of people. Every kind of weed imaginable was arrayed on the floor while intense discussions of money and math took place. It was a Netflix party interrupted by a massive drug deal. Apparently, one of this tramily had stopped at the local dispensary and bought enough for everyone and then neglected to get an itemized receipt and was having trouble getting reimbursed as a result. Loose Leaf and Chile Pepper sat to one side watching passively and eating enormous salads. I dragged in a camp chair to sit in middle of all this and use the computer for a minute and then went to bed.
Trail miles: 10.8 (4 by car)
Number of trail miles left to do in future years: 724.2
(NB: This is not the last daily post of the year.)