Thursday, February 10, 2022

Day 52: Triumphant walk into Colorado! Slinking back to New Mexico....

June 11: I woke up and hit the trail at about 7:00am. I didn't rush to leave camp, but I also didn't linger particularly long since I had planned to arrive into the small town of Chama to resupply and once I made it to town, I'd pick up my laptop and all have sorts of stuff to do. I wasn't going to get bored by arriving in town early in the day!

So... I wasn't in a rush, but I also had no reason to linger either.


Sunrise from camp!

The day's hike had some ups and downs, but nothing particularly noteworthy. The biggest problem were the blowdowns--large ones that often made following the trail difficult and definitely slowed me down. They weren't super bad, but definitely a major annoyance.

Wi-fi and I passed each other a few days during the day, and I arrived at the Colorado border just a minute or so before he did which made it convenient for us to be each other's photographers for the big occasion. We finished New Mexico! Woo-who! Time to celebrate! One state down, four to go! Goodbye, New Mexico. It's been fun, but don't let the door hit you on the ass!

The border was marked with a couple of license plates: one from New Mexico and one from Colorado, but that was about it.

Actually, as it turns out, I'd only be in Colorado for perhaps an hour. Chama, the next trail town, was actually back in New Mexico. But I'll get back to that later....

The only sign indicating that we had crossed a state border were these license plates.

Just a couple of dozen steps from the border, the trail came out to a commanding view of Cumbres Pass that I absolutely loved. I was ready for a short break so stopped to eat some snacks while admiring the great views. I could see some smoke and haze on the horizon which made the views less than perfect, but they were still awesome and I enjoyed my moment basking in the sun. Wi-fi stopped to take some photos but pushed on soon afterward, apparently anxious to get into town.

When I finished my snacks, I continued onward myself  the 2.8 miles to Cumbres Pass. Occasionally I could see Wi-fi ahead of me when we both passed along open ridges, and I could tell I was catching up. He was walking at a pretty good clip despite his hurting leg, but I could still hike faster when I was motivated and getting into town was good motivation!

The view of Cumbres Pass just a few steps from the border was awesome!

The last bit of trail dropped sharply to the pass, and I could see Wi-fi getting set up on the side of the road to hitch into Chama. Chama was actually the first trail town that we had to hitchhike to. All the other towns the trail went directly through! Which is actually pretty unusual to have such a long string of trail towns and resupply options that the trail went directly through: Lordsburg, Silver City, Doc Campbells, Pie Town, Grants and Cuba. The streak was finally broken, though. Chama was located about a dozen miles off the trail--way back over the border back in New Mexico, in fact. Hitchhiking was required. Nobody was going to walk a dozen miles (one way!) off trail to resupply when it was perfectly feasible to hitchhike.

As I was coming down the trail, I noticed a vehicle heading out from Chama pull over next to Wi-fi, which I thought was a bit odd since he was driving the wrong way. I could see Wi-fi talking with the driver for a bit, then when I saw the driver get out and open the back and Wi-fi throwing his pack into it, I double-timed it down the hill. Maybe there was room for me! Maybe I could get a ride out as well! They weren't that far away. I just needed another minute or two to reach them. Good grief, why did Wi-fi have to get a ride so dang quick? He hadn't been there for two minutes when that car pulled over!

So I all but ran down the trail, arriving by Wi-fi huffing and puffing. I hoped there was room for me and it wasn't wasted effort. And there was! Sweet! The driver, Scott, told me to throw my pack in the back, and that's what I did.

Scott and his friend, whose name I didn't record in my journal and is now forgotten in time, drove us back to Chama asking all sorts of questions about the CDT. They had come to the pass to do some hiking of their own but when they saw Wi-fi, they thought it would be a good time to ask questions about the trail and they'd have him as a captive audience on the drive to Chama. Now they had us both! Chama was the entirely wrong direction for them so it was very nice of them to give us a ride at all, but their ulterior motive was to quiz us about thru-hiking. =)

The guys drove us out to the Y Motel where Wi-fi and I tried to check in, but it was still too early in the day and the rooms hadn't been cleaned yet, so I left my pack in the front office and Scott dropped me off at the post office on his way out of town for me to pick up my laptop. Wi-fi hung out at a picnic table in front of the motel to wait until a room was ready.

When I arrived at the post office, I realized that I had forgotten my mask back at the motel, still stuffed into a side pocket of my backpack. Crap! I needed a mask to get my package! But I still had the handkerchief that I wore under my hat and realized that I could just tie it around my face. I might have looked like a bank robber, but that was enough to allow me to pick up my package. =)

The post office was a solid mile or more away from the motel, and it took me the better part of a half hour to pick up my package and walk back to the motel. Scott offered to drive me back but I said that that wasn't necessary. I had only hiked about 8 miles for the day, so it's not like I was particularly tired. Heck, I wasn't even carrying my pack anymore! I had left it back at the motel! I didn't mind walking a mile back to the motel and seeing what was around town along the way.

Back at the motel, Wi-fi was still outside. I thought he was still waiting to get a room, but it turned out the owner told him one was ready and he turned it down to wait for me! What?! What is wrong with you, man?!

Anyhow, we found the owner cleaning some more rooms, and by that point two of the rooms had already been cleaned so we both officially checked in and went to our respective rooms to clean up.

Evenstar texted me shortly later that she just arrived into town as well. When we compared notes, it sounded like she might have camped within a mile or two from where Wi-fi and I had camped. It was a shame she hadn't known that--we could have all camped together. Anyhow, after she checked into another room and got cleaned up, the three of us headed out to get some dinner at the Chama Grill next door.

The lobby of the Chama Grill was closed due to the coronavirus, so we walked through the drive-thru. When we got to the speaker where you put in orders, though, nothing happened. We figured that none of us were big enough to set off whatever alarm tells the workers inside that someone is ready to order, so then we walked around to the pick-up window. There was already a car in front of us being service, so we waited our turn. When the car pulled away, we walked up to the window and knocked on it to get someone's attention and put in our order.

Evenstar and Wi-fi wait in the drive-thru of the Chama Grill

We all felt a little silly walking through a drive-thru, but it seemed to work. I didn't feel entirely comfortable with the idea of sharing space with a road that was meant for vehicles to drive down. Even on road walks, there was typically a shoulder to walk on or a space that allowed me to step off the road when a car approached, but that wasn't really the case here. While putting in our order, a couple of vehicles did pull up behind us.

After putting in our orders, the worker at the window got us our drinks, then told us to go out to the booths out front and wait there. They'd bring our food out to us. And they had moved a few booths that had once been located inside the store outside for people to sit at.

It turned out that our motel was perhaps the last motel on earth without wi-fi available, which was kind of important for me, so I checked for wi-fi connections and saw one called the Chama Grill. I asked the girl at the window if there was a password for us to log into it, but she said they didn't have wi-fi. What's up with the Chama Grill connection, then? Apparently it's used by them for internal use. Maybe the ordering terminals are hooked up to the printers, or maybe to handle electronic payments or who-knows-what, but basically nobody knew the password if there even was one. So... no wi-fi.

We wandered over to the booths and took our seats, but annoyingly, a large SUV was idling next to them. It was already a hot day with the sun beating down on us and no shade to be found, but it was all the worse when we could feel the waves of heat coming out from the engine block. Why were they just idling there for no apparent reason? We all grumbled about that, annoyed at the noise and extra heat the vehicle was producing just a couple of feet away. Jerks.

Wi-fi and Evenstar waiting for our food to arrive. The shadow across the table was cast by the idling SUV that annoyed us so badly. We could feel the heat coming off the engine block and it was stupidly loud for a vehicle that wasn't even moving.

Eventually we got our meals, which was delicious. That was about the only part of the experience that was good at the restaurant, though.

And that was basically the day for us. Other hikers trickled in throughout the day--including Goose who, according to my journal, we chatted for a good portion of the evening but I have no idea what it was about. It was the first time I had met Goose, though. I probably would have spent more time online doing work except the lack of a wi-fi connection was a bit problematic. I could do some stuff with the data connection on my phone, but it was of limited use. So I chatted a lot more with Wi-fi, Evenstar and Goose than I probably otherwise would have done during the evening if I had had a wi-fi connection. (I believe that I more than once joked why I couldn't just connect to Wi-fi with a wi-fi connection.)

And thus ended another day on the trail............

I wonder why one log is happy but the other is sad?

I pose at the state boundary. The sign just marks the boundary of a national forest, not the state line. The two just happen to overlap here. The license plates are the only sign to let us know we've reached a new state.


Lou Catozzi (PI Joe) said...

A rare Thursday ALW posting. I like it. Thnx! Chama is a neat little town, what with the steam train and all.

Evenstar said...

It really was too bad that the train didn't run on Mondays. It would have been nice to catch the train up to Cumbres Pass!