The Grants, NM Zero Day(s) Extravaganza

Friday, May 9, 2014

Woke up feeling probably the most sore I’ve ever felt in my hiking life.  Clearly, hiking nearly 70 miles in two days was a silly thing to do but sometimes you just gotta test your limits to know what you’re capable of.  Today was to be a simple day of recuperating and relaxing.  And that’s exactly what it was going to be.

After a made to order continental breakfast at the Red Lion Hotel in Grants, I went back to my room. Apparently Doc Rocket was faring slightly worse than the rest of us in a couple ways. 1) his feet were all jacked up from blisters 2) his body failed him many miles back on the trail 3) his limp was accompanied by swelling in his foot which he had me and NO2 take a look at after breakfast.  He lifted up his pant leg and invited us to observe what was going on; red streaking up the leg into his groin. My response was simple, “ Look Doc, I’m no doctor (like you har har) but in my underqualified opinion I would say you’ve got a pretty severe infection and should get to the emergency room stat.”  He took the advice, and within the half hour he was on his way to the hospital. As it would turn out he got an infection from one of his blisters that traveled all the way to his Lymph nodes.  He would be off trail for the foreseeable future.

The rest of the day was to be spent getting gear sorted out, clothes cleaned, and get mail drops from the post office.  The post office was supposed to have my new trail shoes but apparently they hadn’t arrived yet. Looks like I would have to wait and pick them up tomorrow before they closed at noon.  It was roughly a mile and a half walk to the post office so it was a real pain in the ass to have to manage going back, especially without a ride.  I was hopeful that I could get Carole or Hugo Mumm to facilitate a ride to and from. 

After a bit, all the hikers staying at the neighboring hotels and motels coordinated to convene at the Chinese Buffet across the street for a hiker family lunch.  Dusty, Samurai, Hamburger, Dash, NO2, Ducky, Hikeaholic, Scarecrow, and myself all found ourselves engorged at one big table with empty plates of Chinese food all around. It was a sight to behold.  After several plates and many fun laughs it was time to retire to the room to get back to doing absolutely nothing. And it was everything that I thought it could be.  Another zero on deck tomorrow and a Warrior Hike event at the local VFW.  

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Saturday, May 10, 2014

Post office just screwing up left and right for me in Grants.  Not COOL! It’s Saturday at 11:30AM and I went down there to get my shoes and they didn’t have them, so they said.  I went back to my hotel room and double checked the tracking information.  It clearly stated that the shoes were delivered to the post office on THURSDAY and they have had them in their possession since then and refuse to admit that they have them back there. I called them and demanded to speak to someone who was half way competent.  I told them that they have basically forced me to be a jerk regarding this package and that they had it in the back somewhere and needed to find out. After waiting several minutes they told me that they indeed did have it.  As it was too late for me to walk back down there before they closed I asked if they would remain open because if I wasn’t able to pick them up today I would be forced to wait in Grants until they opened on Monday which would put me behind by a day for the Warrior Hike schedule.  No such luck.  Screwed again. They would close without me getting my shoes.

Time to game plan since I was now stuck in Grants until Monday to deal with that.  My new plan was to use Sunday (tomorrow) as my day for knocking out the few remaining miles of the trail that I didn’t complete into Grants and then knock out the rest of the road miles north of Grants at the trailhead to Mount Taylor in the Cibola National Forest.  Total miles would be 13 tomorrow, all road.

The rest of this day was used to relaxing and getting ready for our Warrior Hike event at 4pm.  My good buddy Chris Benoit and his wife Sarah were also going to be in town and invited me and some of the other Warrior Hikers over for a BBQ after the event.  His wife’s cousin lived in town.

A few of the VFW members came by and picked us up at the hotel and took us over to the VFW for some drinks and a potluck dinner that included T-Bone steaks.  Everybody that we met over there was incredibly awesome and extremely hospitable.  It always amazes me anytime strangers are willing to take people and take care of them, bend over backwards, and expect nothing in return.  I truly feel awful that the best that I can offer in return is my most sincere appreciation and thanks for everything that they do for us.  After an incredible meal and a gift bag for each one of us we parted ways and got a ride back to the hotel.  Some of us were hiking out tomorrow and needed to prep our gear for the next day. Myself and Doc Rocket would not be hiking out. I was waiting for my new shoes and Doc was laid up with a serious infection. 

Once we got back to the hotel I got in touch with Chris and he was going to come pick us up. I asked if a couple of the other hikers could join who were not affiliated with Warrior Hike and Chris was happy to oblige.  Viking (again no relation), Buffalo Shuffle, Hikeaholic, and Scarecrow were down to join the crew of me, NO2 and Doc Rocket.  Chris and his wife’s cousin’s husband came and picked us up in a shaggin wagon, a big van perfect for the whole crew.

Once we got over to their house which wasn’t more than 10 minutes away, they had a platter prepared for all of is. It looked awesome. Steak fajitas with all the fixins.  It looked amazing. The hikers that weren’t a part of the VFW event dug right in.  I was still completely stuffed and was getting shit from everyone for not digging in but after a few beers and several pleas to eat I regained my appetite and began the fattening process with a renewed sense of hunger.  The food and beer was flowing.  Great company and great people all around. Everyone was having a blast and it was fun to see all the different people interacting and getting along.  I love bringing good people together, warms the heart.  Chris and his wife are awesome people and Sarah’s cousin and husband were incredible hosts to invite a bunch of hiker trash into their home as family.  They also had two little boys that were a lot of fun.  Before we knew it, it was 10pm but the Jaegermeister was being passed around like candy, and the Tecate and Modelos were too.  Another relative of our hosts was there and he was playing his guitar and leading sing alongs of all varieties…I can’t remember them all but lets just say I did my fair share of participating, whether I knew the precise words or not.  At one point in the evening we learned that our host, Oscar, was the manager of the local gold course. Before we knew it we had decided that we were going to play the front nine tomorrow since some of us were going to be sticking around an extra day.  Scarecrow, Hikeaholic, and Doc and I committed to knockin it around the links. 

All in all it was an awesome evening but it didn’t necessarily end on the greatest note. An exciting note but not all together appreciated. We called for a cab to take us back to the hotel as there wasn’t anyone capable of legally driving us back.  We got picked up and started down the road.  We were all rowdy and boisterous.  The driver asked us who we were and what we were doing. I explained to him that some of us were veterans and it was just after this that he got all excited.  I began to discern that this gentleman was ALSO inebriated but that by itself wasn’t what was scariest, what happened next was when shit got real.  I was sitting behind the driver’s seat and the driver handed me a bag and told me he had a surprise and told me to look in the bag.  I grab it and look in it and notice a revolver.  He emphatically was yelling at me to pull it out of the bag and I was emphatically yelling at him that I would do no such thing, this was CERTAINLY not the time or the place.  He slammed on the brakes in the middle of the road in an absurdly drunken manner and basically forced my hand, quite literally. I pulled the gun out, immediately checking to see if it was loaded, which thankfully it was not. I screamed at him that I pulled the gun out and that he should keep driving.  He wouldn’t….He screamed at me to pass it around for everyone to see. His drunken thought was that everyone would find his prized possession to be a real beaut but as I looked around everybody looked terrified and nobody wanted to touch thing.  I told him that I was passing it around, which I wasn’t.  Satisfied with my response he continued to drive again.  Crisis averted but it was clear that a few people in the back were fearing for their precious lives.  We got dropped off and as everyone got out of the vehicle it was like everyone had a second chance at life.  Nerves were shot. We barely spoke as we got out of the car and everyone returned to their respective hotels and rooms breathing sighs of relief. What a day.

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Sunday, May 11, 2014

MOTHER’S DAY! I called and talked to my mee-maw and thanked her for being the best mother in the whole world and that I loved her.  What a special woman to have 4 children with me last and being quite the handful that I was growing up. I’m big on family and I am very close to my parents and brother and sister’s. I’m an uncle to 8 (going on 9) nieces and nephews so I made sure to wish my sisters and sister-in-law a happy mother’s day as well.  And now to celebrate Mother’s day properly.

We got picked up by Chris and Oscar around 11:30am and made our way over to the golf course.  Winds were blowing about 30-50mph but nobody cared, nobody was good enough to care.  For all I knew the wind was about to make me a pro.  This was to be only my third time ever golfing! But what a way to be doing it, on a thru hike! Haha, I always seem to find something adventurous and different, even while I’m already on an adventure. 

First things first, a few six packs for the carts. This basically just turned into a day of drinking with golf on the side. Nobody was taking the golf too seriously but we ended up actually playing pretty well considering the wind, the hangovers, and the current brews in our bellies.  I surprised myself and only lost one ball in a water hazard and only triple bogeyed twice.  I was actually sort of proud of myself as my drives were basically straight most of the time.  My real issue is my putting, I blow, no other way around it.  Maybe someday when I’m old and gray I will take up this hobby a little bit more. We all had a blast and while we were keeping score, nobody was trying to beat anybody although I do think Doc and I tied. Back to the clubhouse after the front nine as nine was just the right amount of golf on this windy day.  Nobody got hurt, no clubs were broken, and no carts were smashed into each other even though we drove them in Mario Kart fashion sans banana peels and turtle shells.  When it was time to go and pay up the Club Pro and owner wouldn’t take our money and even gave us a ride back to the hotel.  What an amazing treat.  I’ll never get tired of people’s hospitality to hiker’s.

We reconvened back at the hotel room to watch some hockey and drink some brews….I passed out almost immediately after scarfing down a five dolla foooootloooooong. The Ranger’s ended up knocking the Penguins out and Scarecrow was ecstatic being that he is from Long Island and is a diehard Ranger’s fan.  I don’t live and die by the Pens but I do root for them. Doc, however, is a different story.  He is fanatical. A tough loss for him.  But so it goes.

Another great day and my body was beginning to heal well.  I originally planned to walk thirteen miles today but plans change and I was in no way upset by missing another day of hiking. I would just pick up my shoes in the morning and get Hugo or Carole to drop me back south on the road and continue my hike north from there in the morning and make up for the lost day by doing big miles again, maybe not 30+ mile days but definitely 25’s.

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Monday, May 12, 2014

Today started out bad.  Post office fiasco YET AGAIN.  On Saturday when I realized that I would be stuck here until today waiting for my shoes, I decided to order something on Amazon Prime 2 day delivery. An external battery pack to keep my devices charged while I’m out on the trail for many days at a time.  Guaranteed delivery by Monday morning yet when I got to the post office they told me that they didn’t have it even though the tracking information claimed that it was delivered. These people run one of the worst post offices I have ever had the displeasure of dealing with.  The package was in the back but they told me their procedure was that they didn’t go through new arrivals until the afternoon and that they wouldn’t release the packages until the following day. What kind of bull shit is this? You’re the post office and you have my package, it’s your JOB to give it to me.  I went back to the hotel and pondered my options.  And I opted to call them back and demand to speak to their boss, and then their boss’ boss, and then their boss’ boss’ boss. Who’s the boss now?? I demanded the release of my package on the account that they had already inconvenienced me on several occasions causing me to miss a couple days hiking already, and now potentially another.  The best they could do for me was to tell me that they would have it ready after noon.  I decided that my best bet was to knock out the 13 mile road walk and to spend one last night in town because A) Doc Rocket was stuck one more day before hitching a ride up to Cuba and B) there was supposed to be snow up on Mount Taylor tonight and sub-freezing temperatures. I didn’t have any of my warming layers yet as I was waiting to have them sent out until the last town stop in New Mexico before getting into Colorado so this didn’t sound like the worst option in the world. One more night of a queen size bed, one more shower, one more hot meal, etc. So the decision was made.  I at least had my new shoes. Spankin new right out of the box.  I figured I could knock out these 13 miles in under 4 hours and I was right. I was back in town at the post office after Carole picked me up at the trailhead before 3pm and picked up my battery pack. Thanks for nothing postal workers. This will forever scar me from having gear or packages shipped to Post Offices in a general delivery fashion in the future. 

Tomorrow back on the trail for real, hiking up Mount Taylor in the morning. 

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