Wednesday, December 8, 2021

Day 24: The Goudina Alternate

May 14: I woke up to a beautiful, sunny morning! It did, however, look quite hazy on the horizon. Smoke from a fire? Dust? I didn't know.

I left camp a little ahead of Evenstar, while Bug and Little Dipper headed out a little before me. I only covered a few miles when I reached the junction for the Goudina Alternate. It was a little-known alternate shown on the Ley maps, but not on Guthook (the app for thru-hikers) so I suspected most thru-hikers didn't even realize it existed.

At the junction, I caught up with Bug and Little Dipper, who were taking a break and about to continue onward just as I arrived. Or maybe they saw me coming and thought, "Yeah, we need to get out of here!" =) I don't really think that was the case--I don't think I did anything to offend or annoy them enough to go out of their way to avoid me. But they continued up on the red line (the main CDT trail).

The alternate was two miles shorter than the main route, and I don't even remember precisely why I chose the alternate. I was in a 20-mile dry stretch without reliable water, and knocking off a couple of miles to make sure I reached the next reliable water seemed prudent, but the main route also climbed a big mountain before descending again and at this point, dark clouds were engulfing the sky so it seemed unlikely that there would be any views. Why bother?

In any case, I decided to take the alternate, and got the idea in my head to get ahead of Bug and Little Dipper then, when I re-connected with the main route again, take a break and when they walked up to me, I could confuse them mightily by being ahead. Maybe I could even convince them that they had been ahead but were walking in the wrong direction! "It's the only logical explanation for you walking up to me! You guys were ahead of me, after all!"

So with this idea of a prank in mind, I headed down the alternate.

The Goudina Alternate started at the junction with Touch Road, so I had to touch Touch Road. =)

Along the way, I started hearing thunder in the high mountains and was extra glad to be hiking on this low-elevation alternate. I had told Evenstar about the alternate and she said that she planned to take it because of her blisters, but since the route wasn't marked and I knew she had crappy GPS equipment, I created arrows out of sticks on the trail whenever there was a junction to help her out. In all, I left four arrows on the route.

But also, I took two wrong turns, which probably added about a mile to my walking distance--mistakes that Evenstar would easily avoid since she had my arrows to follow. By the time I reconnected with the mainline CDT, I wasn't sure if Bug and Little Dipper had passed by yet. Between my wrong turns and the head start they had, they might have already escaped my "prank trap." 

I also hoped that maybe I'd catch up with Pez, but so far, that hadn't happened yet. If he also took the mainline route, there was a possibility that I could have passed him as well, but that was less certain since he would have had an even bigger head start than Bug and Little Dipper had on me.

In any case, I was ready for a good rest break by the time I reconnected with the mainline trail and sat around for about an hour on the side of the trail resting. Nobody passed me. They all escaped my prank trap! Drats!


Just as I was about ready to leave, though, I did spot a figure walking through the forest, off trail in the distance. I couldn't see the figure clearly, but I assumed there was a good chance that it was Evenstar coming up from the alternate. I lost track of the last bit of the alternate and went cross-country until I reconnected with the red line, and it was entirely possible Evenstar was traveling cross-country as well which is why she didn't follow the precisely same route that I did.

I quickly gathered up my stuff, then hoofed it down the trail, where I soon ran into Evenstar who had stopped for a break. She seemed shocked to see me. "What?! How did I get ahead of you?!"

I wanted to somehow turn it around to make it seem like she had been ahead of me all day rather than just the last minute or two, but I couldn't think of a convincing story quickly. Oh, well....

I stopped for a few minutes to chat and we caught each other up on our adventures along the way and compared notes about who was where on the trail, but since I had already taken an hour-long break, I didn't stop long. I continued onward while Evenstar continued her rest break a bit longer.

Later in the afternoon, I reached a gate at a barbed-wire fence. According to Guthook comments, it was a tricky gate to open. The opening mechanism was on the other side of the gate and impossible to see or figure out from the side that I approached, and after fiddling around with it for a few minutes without success, I finally gave up and simply climbed over the barbed-wire fence. As soon as I made it to the other side, I could immediately see how the gate worked and what I had been doing wrong. It was good information, though, because there would be more gates like this in the future. In the meantime, I left my own Guthook comment about the gate: "Tortuga: 0, Gate: 1" It wouldn't help anyone, but it might give them a laugh. =)

Late in the day, after about 20 miles according to my GPS, I finally reached the next water source at Aargon Tank. It was a large tank of water for cattle, and lots of goldfish swam around it. Rumor had it that goldfish were introduced to the water since they helped eat the algae and kept the tank clean. Or at least cleaner than it would have been without the goldfish. So I filled up with water there. One cow watched me with suspicious eyes. There was an adjacent tank, empty and broken, and I climbed into it to cook dinner. At least inside of the empty tank, the cattle couldn't bother me.

You can't see them in this photo, but there are all sorts of goldfish in this tank!

While cooking dinner, I felt a few raindrops, so I hurried things up, finished off my meal, then quickly hiked down the trail away from the water looking for a place to camp where the cattle wouldn't be likely to bother me.

I only went 10 minutes or so before racing to set up my tarp before any real rain started. It did sprinkle, ever-so-slightly, but nothing that really required a tarp. Setting up the tarp, however, wasn't a waste of time since it helped break the strong wind gusts that were quite sizeable.

Near sunset, Evenstar came trekking down the trail. I didn't really think she'd make it this far--her feet were in awful shape!--and I figured that she might push on to the water source just because she needed water, but certainly not a step further than that. Especially given the light sprinkles. But presto! There she came, walking through the light sprinkle. Her grit and perseverance were amazing!

She set up camp nearby, and we laughed about the gate that I couldn't figure out. She said that she had figured it out, but it took her awhile. We also agreed that the goldfish in the water tank was a nice touch. Who knew that we'd find goldfish in the middle of a New Mexico desert?!

And thus ended our 24th day on the trail....

1 comment:

Evenstar said...

Those arrows were MONEY.