306 miles from Mexico
I can’t sleep. I don’t know. The internet is there on my phone and there’s so much to do, such a flood of bleeps and bloops and bits of data that mean everything but really nothing and oh, I can’t sleep. And it’s too hot in the hotel room. Or too cold? And I’ve eaten too much dinner. Or not enough? And someone is snoring. And do you think there’s a place online I can buy chapulines, those fried seasoned grasshoppers they sell in Mexico? I’d really like to try eating those as trail food. I turn my phone on in the dark room. I don’t find the grasshoppers but I do order a popcan stove. I’m getting a stove! I imagine myself making some salty instant rice dish and crumbling fried grasshoppers into it. And pork rinds. Trail cuisine really is its own special thing.
In spite of various people snoring I do eventually drift off only to shoot awake again at 5:30. Oh hotel rooms. If I have ever slept well in one I do not remember it.
Breakfast at the Adobe Cafe is just as fantastically wonderful as dinner was the night before. I have sausage, eggs, gluten-free pancakes (!!) and a pot of loose-leaf organic green tea, steeped exactly perfect. The boys have huge cheesy melted breakfast burritos and biscuits and gravy. I order a slice of gluten-free tiramisu (!!) to go. By the time we’re back on trail at 10 a.m., we are all ready for a nap. But no matter. Morale is high! Reserve, New Mexico is a tiny oasis of super-friendly hippie cattle ranchers who make the best ribs this side of the milky way. It was totally random and we went there and it was awesome! We’re practically skipping down the trail.
“The fat on them,” says Track Meat, as we hike through the cool pine forest on the jeep road that will take us all the way to pie town. “Do you remember the fat on those ribs?”
In the afternoon we reach the fire lookout atop Mangus Mountain and we climb up the metal stairs in the howling wind to the glass-walled hut on top. Inside there is an older gentleman, listening to squaks from a CB radio and writing things on a notepad. This man kindly points out various features to us in the landscape, which consists of broad valleys and strangely shaped mountains, everything covered in pine forest.
“I new nothing about New Mexico before hiking the CDT,” I tell the man. “Now I’ll always remember it as high-altitude pine forests and a convoluted network of dirt forest service roads.”
Speaking of dirt forest service roads, we’re on the same one all day, and tomorrow we’ll take it the last 17 miles to Pie Town. Whatever “Pie Town” is, if there even is a Pie Town. After the Adobe Cafe in Reserve, I’m not sure anything will ever compare. That place was like the Stehekin of the CDT! Future hikers take note.
The sky does wild things while I walk the long flat dirt road. O Tempestuous clouds! Camp finds us at a cattle tank on a grassy slope, watching the light move while we cook our dinners. A drunk rancher rolls to a stop in his pickup and gets out to watch the sunset with us, gives everyone bud light. Then the rain begins to fall and we retreat into our tents.
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