Miles: 19
Camp: CDT mile 536.7

For the record, everything was fine yesterday. I felt great and my spirits were high, I had just worn myself out is all…it’s bound to happen sometimes.

Today started out as early as usual, giving me no need to worry about making my miles before dark. I was feeling especially happy as I was walking through a deciduous forest, a rare treat in New Mexico. The leaves were glistening in the morning sun and the quaking aspen were fluttering in the breeze. I love standing among the aspen and closing my eyes, just listening. They are a musical tree.

About 2 miles from camp I ran into the warrior hikers with Popeye and his brother in law who has just joined him on trail. Popeye was way ahead of me, but he had head to slow his pace while his brother gets his trail legs. The rest of us have hiked over 500 miles already, so we move pretty swiftly compared to the beginning, and miles are becoming easier to make.

None of them were ready to depart camp, so I set on enjoying the cool morning to myself. I expected to see the others when I stopped for second breakfast, but they must have had quite a slow exit from camp today. I was okay with the solitude though, it’s more rare than I expected it to be on this trail.

The trail eventually began a 4 mile climb up a smaller mountain taking us back into a cool valley. There was a spring there and I stopped there for lunch with Anvil. We talked about lots of things, and soon an hour went by and I wanted to get moving. My goal is to make camp at 6:00 tonight so I have enough time to relax. I’ll already be making it to Ghost Ranch tomorrow afternoon, and I feel as if I just got back on trail. It is our shortest leg of the journey.

The rest of the day was spent walking through a canyon with a nice ambling stream. It eventually opened up to some spectacular meadows surrounded by colorful cliffs. It was here that I decided to grab water and make camp.  I’m a bit off trail tonight, but that way I’ll be sure to stay alone. I’m really a light sleeper, and I sleep best when no one is around…plus I like to go to bed at 9, which is early to some.

I look forward to sunset and a good rest before Ghost Ranch tomorrow. It is a stop I’ve looked forward to for a long time. It is a retreat center where a lot of artists go to create…in fact, Georgia O’Keefe spent a lot of time there painting once upon a time. They also have all you can eat meals! It’s surely going to be a spot to take a zero and likely catch up with the friends I left in Grants. It should be a nice rest as the mountains of Colorado are now only 100 miles away, and the elevation and snow will change this trail soon.

In the meantime I will savor the last morsels of New Mexico.

Dinner: cous cous with smoked salmon, chanterelle mushrooms, kale, cheese, cranberries and turmeric.

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View from the loo
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