CDT day 26: Ghost Ranch day

May 30
Mileage 19
576.5 miles hiked from Mexico

It’s cold again. Dammit! Why is it so cold at night on this trail. Nineteen miles today, to Ghost Ranch and food. We hike out of the ponderosa forest and into the flat baking desert again, mesas rising up around us. Pink-gold mesas, the landscapes of Georgia O’Keefe. Georgia O’Keefe lived at Ghost Ranch for fourty years. We take the wrong road/trail a couple of times- by the time we arrive at Ghost Ranch I feel baked from the heat and my feet are cooked from the roadwalk. My shoes are disintegrating. Shoes wear out much faster on the CDT, apparently. I’ve got a fresh pair waiting in the box I sent myself in Chama. Just 88 more miles in these ones!

Ghost ranch is a sprawling adobe complex, much larger than I expected. I feel like I’m on some sort of campus, and school is out for the summer. We buy our tickets for dinner, which isn’t until 5:30, and sit on the wooden porch of the wecome center, sorting our resupply boxes. I’m hungry, and soon I’m eating things from the hiker box- fruit snacks, reeses pieces. I buy a popsicle and a gatorade from the store. My heart is pounding with sugar, and I feel disoriented. I reserve a spot for all of us at the sandy, shadeless campground and take a shower, rinsing my clothes in the water. I look at my feet, cut off dead skin, pop my blisters. Pain. Hiking is pain.

Dinner is roast beef and mashed potatoes in the large, mostly empty dining hall. I’m in awe of the endless hot water dispenser and large variety of tea and I keep going back for more. All the hikers talk about snow. Snow snow snow. What to do about the snow in Colorado. We’re almost to Colorado. What can be done.

I feel melancholy by the time I crawl into my sleeping bag beneath the moon. I’m not a ski mountaineer. I’m terrified of avalanche danger and cornices, both of which are in ample supply right now, in the San Juans. And I don’t want to carry snowshoes, gore-tex socks, snow gaiters, micro-spikes, an ice axe… but then, what else? Long alternates on forest service roads? Flipping? Going somewhere else for a few weeks? Everything seems out of order. Can’t I just hike? I like hiking. I don’t know.

Photos on instagram