CDT day day 13: And then there were ribs

May 17
Mileage 19
282.5 miles from Mexico

It’s cold next to the cow pond but not rainy and I sleep hard, wake up feeling super awesome. Yay! We’re up high in the pine mountains and today the trail is a maze of jeep roads and bushwhacking, tracks going off in one direction and then ending, the maps and the data not agreeing on what the CDT is and is not, we all take different routes and fall into a time warp and walk all over different parts of the mountain and end up together, somehow, in the afternoon, dipping deep blue water from the best cow tank we’ve seen that looks like a giant swimming pool and sitting in the sunshine, talking about food we’d like to eat. In a mile we’ll start the long dirt roadwalk to pie town, 1.5 days away. Hunger, hunger, hunger.

A mile later at hwy 12 we find a sign offering a shuttle for hire to the town of Reserve, New Mexico. We heard there’s not much there but we call them and they say there’s one restaurant open. We stand in the sun debating- fifteen miles into the night to a campsite at a fire lookout, with only gross bars we’re tired of left to eat? Or take a shuttle thirty miles into a cow town we know nothing about. We’re all chafed and sun-fried, smeared with dust and sunscreen residue. I’ve got some weird rash on the backs of my calves that bleeds, bleeds, when I put sunscreen on it.

45 minutes later a huge SUV blasting funk pulls into the turnoff where we’re sitting and a huge man named Joe with a ruddy face is handing out beers and a bag of “nacho chips”, which we devour. Somehow we squeeze six people in the SUV (Hikers: if we fits, we sits) and then we’re at the Hidden Springs Adobe Cafe in Reserve staring down a full salad bar and plates of all-you-can-eat ribs which, somehow in this small town away from everything, are the best ribs any of us have ever had. Meat and fat and BONE, oh my god.

“Did we die?” I say. “Did we die in the Gila?”

We all needed this more than we wanted to admit.

A room in the attached inn, a piece of pie to go, our putrid clothes spinning in the washer, a shower, and all the internet errands. I feel so overwhelmed when there’s wifi and my phone goes crazy, slumped in bed hearing the blings and beeps of days worth of stuff coming in. More and more I don’t even want to turn my phone out of airplane mode. More and more I just want to look at the trail, I just want to be free. But this happens every year- it’s why I come out here in the first place.

Photos on carrotquinn