Friday, November 19, 2021

Day 16: Leaving the Silver City

May 6: I took my time leaving town. Addie dropped by my room in the morning to say goodbye--hopefully just temporarily. She was planning on taking another zero day and wouldn't leave until tomorrow. Additionally, Pez had texted me that he wasn't feeling especially well this morning, possibly the side effects of his COVID vaccination yesterday, so he had also decided to stick around in town for an extra day. I'd be leaving town on my own, with Pez and Addie a day behind me, and Evenstar a day ahead of me.

I finally check out and left the motel by around 10:00am, then headed back to the post office--my fourth visit in four days!--to mail my laptop ahead to Grants, NM, which I expected to reach in 18 days. A whole 18 days without my laptop.... *shaking head* I might have withdrawals!

How could I say no to such a cute-looking mascot?

Before leaving town, I stopped at Blake's Lotaburger for lunch. The restaurant had root beer at a fill-it-yourself station, and I sent a message to Pez to let him know. Being from Europe, he didn't know what root beer was. Evenstar and I assured him that despite the word 'beer', it was not alcoholic at all. Well, I mean, yeah, you can get alcoholic root beer, but not at fast food places.... Anyhow, we had suggested that he should at least give it a try, and this fill-it-yourself station would be great. He could try a little and if he didn't like it, could fill up with something else instead. It's a very American flavor, and he needed some uniquely American experiences. =)

Yum! =)

I didn't want to leave the air-conditioned building, though, since the temperatures outside were already uncomfortably warm for me. But the trail must go on! Or at least I must, and after drinking a refill or two of my cup with root beer, I headed off and out of the restaurant and out of town.

The first few miles out of town were along quiet but paved roads through neighborhoods and other civilization, then I reached the gravel roads and the walk became more pleasant.

I missed the turnoff from the gravel road, walking perhaps 10 minutes in the wrong direction before realizing my error and backtracking. Argh! I hate that!

This was the turnoff that I missed--despite the efforts of previous hikers to install an arrow made of wood.

Then I was back on real trail with plenty of small trees for shade. Views from the hilltops were pleasant and I enjoyed the walk despite the oppressive heat.

Evenstar had texted me that it was possible to swing past a water source without going out of my way, but I didn't quite understand her directions and walked past the turn-off she had suggested. By the time I realized my error, I was in too deep heading in the wrong direction. I mean, technically, I was on the trail so it wasn't the wrong direction, but there was absolutely no water directly on the trail for many, many miles. I would have to hike 1.5 miles off trail and descend 300' to reach a reliable water source. The detour Evenstar suggested would have saved me from that effort by passing directly by the water, but I screwed it up.

The only consolation I had was that at least the views were actually pretty nice from this higher-elevation route.

Once I reached the junction to the water, I continued the 1.5 miles downhill to an awful cow tank filled with stagnant water. Yuck. But water was water, and I filled up.

The views were quite pleasant from the hilltops

I carried the water away from the cattle, finding a shady spot nearby to cook dinner so I didn't have to carry dinner water back up the hill. And by taking a long break, maybe the temperature would cool a bit before I climbed back up to the trail. It was a hot day, but late enough in the afternoon that temperatures should start falling soon if they hadn't already.

After dinner, I packed up again and headed back to the trail, complaining bitterly about the 3 extra miles I had to walk just to get water.

Back at the junction with the trail, I finally stopped to camp. By this point, dark and ugly clouds filled the sky and I felt a few drops of rain. It wasn't a real rain--just a few drops--but since the clouds looked mighty ugly, I went ahead and set up my tarp.

Near sunset, a couple of mountain bikers passed by me, but they were the only people I had seen on the trail all day. I never spotted any other hikers on the trail and didn't know of anyone within a day's hike of me. Oh, well....

Thus ended my 16th day on the trail....

There were a few miles of civilization to walk through before getting back to nature.

Then a few more miles along gravel roads.

It always surprises me when people have to be reminded not to shoot near a residence, campsite, recreation site or occupied site.

The clouds were looking angry late in the day! Notice the rainbow in the photo? (It was much more vivid in real life so the photo doesn't really do it justice, but it still showed up in the photo, at least.)

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