Pie Town to Grants – Another Foolish Death March

Tuesday, May 6, 2014
CDT Day 24 – Zero Day

So I didn’t hike out today. My feet still needed a little pampering and time off. I had new shoes shipped to Grants which was the next town up trail which was about 71 miles North.  We don’t have an event there until Saturday so I still have plenty of time if I leave tomorrow.  I figured I’d give my feet an extra day and I found a new pair of insoles to slip into my seriously faded footwear to help mitigate the issues that I was having with them. Fool proof plan in place.

I decided to take it upon myself to make breakfast for everybody that I could.  Something about doing things for other people that just makes you feel good about yourself, especially to start the day. II had all the ingredients that were needed: tortillas, eggs, peppers, asparagus, cheese, bacon grease, the giant iron skillet, and the wood fired stove. Breakfast burritos for all. Viking (no relation to myself but a true Icelandic/German finishing his Triple Crown), Buffalo Shuffle, Dusty, Kermit, NO2, Doc Rocket, Hikeaholic, and Scarecrow, everybody had there fill of the giant egg scramble shmorgasbord that was created…I had two.

The rest of the day was spent relaxing and catching up on some internet world type things.  Sports, news, contacting mi familia, etc. Town stops are crucial for most but I tend to draw them out a little bit longer than others. 

The day flew by fairly quickly and before I knew it, it was dinner time.  Time to fire the wood stove back up and rummage through the fridge, freezer and cupboards for dinner.  Most of all the 20+ hikers that were here the night before had bounced.  All that was left was me, Kermit, Doc Rocket, Viking, Buffalo Shuffle, and two newcomers in Wolverine and Beeker.  I invited them all to partake in whatever dinner I was about to create. Everyone was in except Wolverine, he apparently had shipped too much food to himself and was relegated to having to eat as much of it before hiking out tomorrow morning. 

Spaghetti dinner time. I found loads of pasta of all varieties. But the kicker was the personally HANDcrafted specialty sauce (from pre-made ingredients). I found a can of crushed tomatoes, a can of peeled tomatoes, one whole tomato, a can of tomato paste, and two cans of three cheese cooking sauce, added in various spices and seasonings, as well as a little red cooking wine.  BUT I also found a bag in the freezer of some kind of meat. Wasn’t sure what it was but it was gonna get cooked and thrown in, rest assured. Meat sauce baby.  As it would turn out it was 4 pounds of ground elk meat and when I put it all together it was about the best damn spaghetti meat sauce I’ve ever tasted in my entire life.  Everyone else agreed once they were feeding their fat faces all at the dinner table together like one big happy family.  A loaf of baked and buttered Italian bread was served up with it. Smashing success. Bed time came early as we were all bloated with carbs and calories (and plenty of beer).

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Wednesday. May 7, 2014
CDT Day 25 – LOTS of miles

Woke up with all intentions of hiking out first thing. There I go with plans and intentions again.  Ended up not jocking up until about 9:45am after making a slamming breakfast for everybody again. Most important meal of the day right? Every meal is my most important meal. All five of them. Doc Rocket and I had plans to make it to Grants a day before our event on Saturday so we could watch the penguins game on Friday. This meant we were going to be pulling three 25 mile days back to back to back. No biggie right? Right.

We made it about 200 feet before we decided we should go have pie one last time before departing PIE TOWN. The cafe opened at 10…what impeccable timing.  We sat there until about 10:30 after eating pie and ice cream before hitting the road. Definitely a much later start than anticipated.  To me this meant I would have to be hauling ass to make 25 miles before it got too late.  I believe Doc had aspirations of hanging with me for the walk but as soon as we hit the trail (a road walk for almost ever) I put it in another guy and left him in the dust.  After the 4th or 5th mile he couldn’t be seen behind me anymore but that wasn’t what was on my mind.  My shoes!! I started feeling hot spots. This did not bode well for my healing feet and for the big miles ahead.  Command decision made. Socks and Crocs time baby! One last time before I fall in on my new shoes in the next town, shoes that I HOPE solve all these feet problems.  I stopped and made the change and continued on my course. As the day wore on I realized that I was making amazing time. 

I started to get it into my head that more than 25 miles was possible. As I continued to knock out more chunks of miles with the winds whipping and blasting sand against my body all day long, I began to think bigger. What is it with wanting to push myself to the brink of destruction all the time? Don’t know, DON’T CARE. I love the challenge. I began to think that it was possible to actually catch the other hikers that left the day before me.  Not only that but I began to think it was possible to make it to Grants in TWO days. 71 miles!!  Now things were bordering on ludicrous.  What was I thinking? Why would I even consider this? My reasoning is always foolish and I know it….but its still MY reasoning and I will do whatever I damn well please whether its good for me or not. Decision made.

Grants in two days.  Not only did I challenge myself….but I openly challenged NO2 and Doc Rocket.  Later in the day as the sun was fading I neared the 24 mile mark.  This was near a cattle trough that I topped off at and just happened to have service on my phone at as well.  The feet were tired but I was too stubborn to deviate from my self imposed challenge.  I sent a group text out to those two and told them my plan of Grants by Thursday evening.  NO2 and Doc both replied with their acceptance of that challenge…fools! Haha.  Their manhood’s would not be pushed around by the likes of me….and I did push them.

Doc was probably 10 plus miles behind me at this point and NO2 was maybe 10 miles ahead of me.  I decided to open the gap on one and close the gap on the other. I initially told them both that I was going to pull a 33 mile day which at the time was indeed my intention.  But as the evening wore on I decided to take an alternate route that would bypass the route that N02 took and I could in essence leap frog him in the night unbeknown to him. The new goal was 38 miles to put me a solid mile in front of N02.  I made my mark by 11:45pm. I didn’t look pretty doin it but I made it none the less.  I cowboy camped under a dead tree on the side of the road where I knew any hiker that passed me in the morning while still in my bag couldn’t miss me.  Lord knows my body could use a little sleeping in.  I cooked a meal while I nearly froze in the bitter cold night before hopping in the bag….surrounded by cow shit of course.  

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Thursday, May 8, 2014
CDT Day 26 – 33 miles (or so was the plan)

Woke up to the sounds of Dusty and Hamburger talking and walking up to my bivouac site.  We exchanged pleasantries and they asked how I got there and I informed them of all my stupidity the day before and the stupidity that was to ensue on this day as well.  Next came Hikaholic walking up on me, I was still in my bag afraid to move or get up and realize the damage that was done.  Also it was FREEZING cold out this morning as it was about 7:30am.  Hikaholic complemented the false sense of security being provided by the tiny dead tree that I was perched under.  Hilarious, now leave me be.  I decided it was time to stand up out of my bag as I could see Dash and N02 walking up in the distance.  They couldn’t believe I was there. “BEAT YA!”, I said to them and laughed, but the joke was on me because they were walking and I could barely stand up straight without losing my balance.  This is how most mornings are for many hikers but it was quite amplified for me this morning.  They didn’t linger long as they were also freezing and their goal was my goal, Grants which was 33 miles away. Definitely another extremely full day of hiking, at a very fast and brutal pace.  I was not sure how I was going to manage this in my current condition.  I knew I could walk, but the pace would need to be 3-3.5 miles all day with barely any breaks.  I scarfed down some bars and popped some vitamin I (ibuprofen) and packed my crap and hit the ground running…well, walking, as best I could. The first few miles took a while to warm up to the pace I wanted. I was doing it though. It seemed possible and within reach.  DEATH MARCH CITY here I come. Every single town stop I have pulled a ridiculous day of hiking to make into town a day early, or in this case two days early.  It is nonsense but it is reality, the reality I have created. At this point its getting to be a bit of a tradition.  Wouldn’t be a town stop without hobbling in like an idiot. 

The miles felt like they were taking forever. And I mean FOREVER.  15 down, 18 to go.  Next thing I know the clouds are rolling in hard. I had heard there was a chance for thunderstorms today but didn’t pay it any mind.  Now I was paying it mind.  These weren’t just any old clouds rolling in, they were snow clouds, snow and lightning. Great. Just what I need to make these next miles go smoothly. The snow began pelting my face and the wind would burn, I actually put my rain jacket on while I was hiking for the first time on this trail.  This continued on for a while and eventually I got to a water cache on the side of the road where Dash and N02 were just leaving as they had clearly already had a nice long break.  Their bodies were fresher than mine as they broke up the previous miles into two days as opposed to my one.  I resented them for having more able bodies at this point and cursed them in the back of my mind.  How dare they be able to walk faster than me right now. I knew there was no way I would be able to catch them and conceded the glory of them getting to town before me.

At the water cache, Hikaholic and Hamburger were chillin. I only intended to stop to tape up my feet as I was beginning to feel hot spot, the first time since feeling them the day before. Miraculously my feet were holding up to this point.  But now the old blister were beginning to form new ones underneath them.  POPPED and taped them up and stuffed a couple of bars down the gullet and Hamburger kindly brought me a bottle of water as I was clearly in no position to move more than was necessary to complete these tasks.  More vitamin I too, a hikers best friend while they are poundin some serious ground.  Getting started again back on the road was rough but at least I had two other hikers with me to keep me occupied and my mind off the pain. I was hoping to make it to town no later than 8 but my pace was gradually slowing as the pain became more intense.  These two weren’t trying to make it into town tonight and were gonna camp somewhere.  We had a good time exchanging stories and conversation for several miles before we passed by the ranger station and they peeled off for a break.  The fool pressed on, no breaks.  It was getting later and later and around 6pm i was about 1 mile from Interstate 40, which for the longest time I thought was the location of the hotel I was trying to make it to but it was a false hope.  I still had 6 miles to go from I-40.  My pace had slowed to 2mph or less and I physically COULD NOT hike any faster.  I began to realize that I absolutely bit off more than I could chew.  Total boneheaded idiot move.  I wasn’t dying and I wasn’t seriously injured, I just pushed my body to the brink and it was shutting down.  I began to have an inner battle with my pride and my new reality.  At my current pace I wouldn’t get to the hotel until 10 or 11pm even.  I was tired, hungry, hurting, exhausted. The battle then became one of giving up, of throwing out my thumb before it got dark and hitch hiking to the hotel (to return to my last spot and pick up there when it was time to hike again, of course). 

As I was having this inner battle, a vehicle came rolling down the road towards me. It began to slow down, slower and slower as it approached.  My only thought was that I must have looked so pathetic hobbling down this road that they were about to stop and take pity on me. The car stopped in the middle of the road and the window rolled down, “Are you a Warrior Hiker?” “Ummmm, yes?”, I said.  As it turns out they were the two well known older couple trail angels in the Grants area, Carole and Hugo Mumm.  Apparently they were on their way to pick up Doc who, in his pursuit of my foolish challenge, could not walk a step further. They informed me that he was roughly 19 miles behind me and called them for a ride.  Yikes.  They offered me a ride and I refused (but how badly I secretly wanted the ride). I figured I could make it another mile to I-40 where there was a Subway and gas station. I could eat dinner and rest and push the remaining 5 miles or so after a break.  They offered again and I again refused and thanked them anyways. Finally Carole, who was the sweetest lady, very grandmotherly, said why don’t you just get in the car and we will take you to Subway and get Doc and pick you up on the way back. Third time was the charm, I couldn’t say no one more time, the thought of a hotel bed and a warm shower was too much.  I ate two footlongs at that Subway and grabbed one for the road.  Got to the hotel and snagged my own room and locked the door. I was to be alone for the rest of the night to nurse my broken body. 5 miles shy of my mark I was a battered man emotionally….yet incredibly content to take an hour long bath before literally crawling into bed. Two zero days on DECK…the fruits of my stupid labors. 

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