Currently I'm in Lordsburg, New Mexico - the final town stop, only 80 miles from the Mexican border. I just picked up my final mail drop, number 28 of 28.
Flashbacks hit, I remember 4 months ago, sitting in my parents living room, holding this box, this one in particular, the final one; hoping with all my might, mental and physical strength, that I might see it again, here, now, like an old friend. But more than simply seeing it again, I hoped all those months ago, that when I held it again, I would somehow be different. Same hands grip the box but maybe just a little more weathered and tanned. Not as visible, the growth of a person grateful for the innumerable acts of kindness shown by strangers, someone who walked up mountains to feel the confidence of the wind at the ridge, who heard calmness in the desert silence at 2am with eyes drawn to constellations above, tasted love as the pouring rain soaked through their hood and onto their face, and understood freedom by the scent of the Ponderosa Pines- the smell, independent of time, that reminded them of the forest on their first hiking trip to the Grand Canyon as a child.
All of these hopes I place in box 28 along with my dehydrated food and protein bars. And as if blowing out the candles on a birthday cake, I muttered these wishes to myself, placed 28 inline with the others, drove out to the Canadian border, said goodbye to my family and started to walk south.
I'll use these final 80 miles wisely to eat the rest of the dehydrated dinners, protein bars and congratulatory goodies from my parents and sister who have dealt with my highs and lows (litteraly calling them from valleys and mountian tops). And to hope the trail has bestowed some wisdom on me. Give yourself to the trail and it will give you a hundredfold in return.
Photos from the past 10 days:
The water sources have all been interesting to say the least down here in New Mexico. The comments for this one said to look for the Goldfish...which I took to mean that someone left yummy cheesy fish shaped crackers behind. Boy how I wish I was right on that one. Among the dozens of goldfish in the trough was also this bigger guy swimming around. Anyone who identifies the species gets a million bonus points.
For a moment there, it stated to look like I was back on Kansas.
The weather has been absolutely wonderful in southern New Mexico. The nights not too cold but cool enough to feel cozy in my sleeping bag and days that are hot but not 'everything should be melting' hot. And to top it off there has been almost no rain to speak of. Incredibly the only rain in the last few weeks came when we were under a porch roof at Burro Mountain Homestead!
One of the first crossings of the Gila River. We would go on to cross the Gila about 50+ more times. Wet feet for dayzzzzzz.
The topo of the Gila Wilderness is incredible! And with the river running through it's a green paradise in the New Mexican desert.
More epic cliff-scapes
Approaching the Gila Cliff Dwellings.
An incredible view from the dwellings. It's amazing many parts are still standing since being built in the late 1200.
I wonder in NCARB will let me count this as continuing education credits?
Gila Cliff Dwellings, 46 rooms total in 5 caves housed about 60 people.
The Gila had some dramatic cliffs making for so many river crossings. At times we'd walk only for a quarter mile only to come to a cliff, cross the river, hit another cliff after a quarter mile and have to cross back. This went on for miles and miles making progress excruciatingly slow. Luckily the river wasn't moving too quickly but the water level was at times, nearly waist deep. From the amount of debris around the river it's likely that it floods often which means the trail was hard to find and left us mostly bushwacking through dense vegetation.
One of the most beautiful rocks I have ever seen.
Following a dry riverbed as the trail
This is Doug the hermit. His description, not mine. One of the coolest folks I've met. He moved out to the woods 18 years ago and hasn't looked back. He goes into town once a year to get all his food and spends the rest out in his one room cabin. An absolutely delightful person to spend a few hours with!
Doug's garden. Currently he's growing a few different types of tomatoes, cucumbers, and bell peppers.
A beefsteak tomato from Doug's garden. It was delicious!
Silver City, one of my favorite towns in New Mexico.
There is no shortage of pokey things out here. I definitely won't miss accedently kicking them and having to pick needles from my toes.
I believe this is an Agave plant, please correct me if I'm wrong.
More pokey things
Sunrise from Burro Peak
Watching the sunrise as we walked into Lordsburg.
Ahora a México,