Gila Hot Springs to Pie Town:
There are so many things I could tell you about this journey, especially how difficult, dirty, hot, cold, nasty water, or how hard it is on the body, but it is not about that. We spend way too much time giving way too much energy to negative bad things. What would happen if we spent that same time and energy acknowledging everything good and beautiful in the world? There is so much beauty in the world – it is just a matter of seeing it. Being cold is beautiful, being dirty is beautiful, engaging every cell in your body is beautiful!
After Gila Hot Springs we hiked up The Middle Fork of the Gila River. It was filled with amazing rock features much like something you might see in Zion National Park. We had our first big rain of the hike for most of our time on the middle fork. After a long day of rain we were going on about how what we would really love is to come around one of the bends in the River to see a forest service picnic pavilion and that we stop and camp under it. As we came around the next bend in the river we saw a beautiful cliff overhang with a large dry cave area. We stopped right there and camped even though there were several hours of light left.
We made it out of the Middle Fork the next day to some easy road walking where the miles went much faster. Just before the road walking turned back to trail we met Bill, a film maker from San Diego. He shared his food with us, which was very welcome as our food was running low from the slow miles on the Gila. Now, when I’m hiking for hundreds of miles I get very hungry, hungry to the point that I will eat all kinds of things that I would not normally choose to eat. I had been fantasizing about running into campers and the kinds of food they might have, hot dogs, chips, soda, but what Bill offered us was much more amazing. Of all things, he had Kale, organic Kale, sweet dinosaur organic kale… I ate the entire bunch like a hungry rabbit as kale is my favorite food. I could not believe that in the middle of nowhere someone had beautiful, green, organic kale. But things like this do happen. After much visiting and eating we went on our way.
Our last morning before Pie Town was the coldest, 23 deg. It was glorious when the sun came out. The weather in New Mexico takes some getting used to. The nights have been so cold and during the day the sun is so intense. When the sun goes behind a cloud it feels like winter and when the sun shows itself I am instantly sweating.
There are two routes into Pie Town, the old route that walks right through town and the new route that dead ends at the highway. We took a third route. When we arrived at the last spring before Mangas Mountain it was dry and since there was no water for another 20 miles we decided to stay on the big dirt road that goes to the highway. We found water in a cattle pond and one of the ranches also gave us water. This road goes through the town of Mangas. We passed several old adobe and stone buildings that were well worth the road walk, like a walk back through time.
Just before reaching the highway a lady stopped and gave us a ride to pie town. When we arrived Nita, who runs The Toaster House (hiker hostel), was out of town and the post office and restaurants were all closed. Nita had left her house unlocked, stocked with food, and open for hikers. When we arrived at the Pie-O-Neer Restaurant it was closed, but a lady came out, asked if we were hiking the Divide, and offered us some pie from the freezer.
There is a saying for the Continental Divide Trail, “Embrace the Brutality”, but I want to offer a new one, “Embrace the Beauty”…