Cuba, NM

Day 20     5/19     16 miles

We were joined in Grants by our friend Speed who traveled down from Denver and is joining us for a stretch. Speed’s an experienced hiker who’s got lots of long distance miles on his legs. He’s a retired scientist with the BLM(bureau of land management) and has lots of knowledge about the outdoors. Like if I was ever on ‘Who Wants to be a Millionaire’ Speed would be my lifeline for all things to do with the outside. Queen B and I both met and hiked with him on the PCT in ’15. The 3 of us walked out of town around noon time today but not before grabbing a burrito at a taco shop at the edge of the city. The trail follows the highway for a few miles and then goes into the woods and climbs in elevation towards Mt. Taylor. It’s been a nice peaceful and relaxing day but as we get higher the temperature has been dropping. We’re right around 9000 feet and it should be cold sleeping tonight.  On a positive note about sleeping though, my tent is set up correctly for the first time ever. I have about 6000 miles on this thing and never learned how to set it up the right way, granted I don’t always use it and try to cowboy camp when I can, when I do need it I just half ass the set up and get the job done as quick as possible. Queen B has been criticizing how janky the thing looks so she watched a video on the correct way to set it up and then put her knowledge to use. The thing looks good and is more spacious than ever. Now if I can only get her to do this for me every night. A little after 9 our friend Smiley, who I met on the PCT and QB met on the AT in ’13, showed up to camp. Smiley’s triple crowned and then some. He drove over from Navajo Nation and up a forest road to our campsite. He brought us all kinds of great trail magic; a bucket of chicken, coconut cream pie, pecan pie, fresh fruit, and lots of Coca Cola Classics. We’re camped near the trailhead to Mt Taylor so he was able to park and will be joining us for the day tomorrow. QB and Speed

Day 21     5/20     21 miles 

What a great day! Smiley, Speed, Queen B and I started the day by climbing Mt Taylor, one of the 4 sacred peaks of the Navajo. We then followed along a ridge to summit La Mosca Peak. Both peaks were over 11,000 feet and it was the first time of the hike we had to walk across any snow. Smiley turned back after La Mosca but he was awesome, he gave us some good info about the CDT and brought with him lots of food for today’s hike and provided us with trail magic all morning. Speed, Queen B and I then spent the rest of the day enjoying some sunshine and descending down a few thousand feet. We found a place to cowboy camp in a patch of trees just off trail on the edge of a wide open range. 

Day 22     5/21     26 miles 

It was a little chilly last night but that gave me good reason to hit the ground running or at least walking quickly early this morning. The miles during the early morning hours are usually some of my favorite of the day, and this morning was no exception. The air was crisp, probably in the high 30’s, and I had wide open views of the sunrise all around me and could hear coyotes howling in the distance. Queen B was lucky enough to see a coyote this morning, but I didn’t get the chance. She said the two wild animals (herself and the coyote) stared at each other for a good 15 seconds and had a moment. We walked for about 13 or 14 miles and had to take a little side trail into a really cool canyon to get water so that’s where we stopped for lunch. By the spring we met Rabinath, a hiker from Amsterdam, and he walked with us the rest of the day. After about 10 more miles of walking through the forest the trail drops steeply down from the mesa into a wide open valley. It’s funny because I didn’t even know we were up on a mesa until the trail reached a point at the edge of the forest and peaking through the trees I could see vast expansive views of this beautiful valley. Once I got down into the valley the trail crossed a forest road and a couple guys, John and Alan, were just packing up from camping for the weekend. They said 5 hikers camped with them the previous night and they cooked for them. Trail magic is the best! Since they were just leaving they hooked me up with a bunch of leftovers; boiled eggs, ham, boiled potatoes, and string cheese that I shared with Queen B, Speed, and Rabinath. We cowboy camped in a patch of trees down around 6000 feet so I expect it to be a much warmer night. Early morning hiking across an open rangethe view from the edge of the forest and the mesa
Day 23     5/22     29 miles

If I used the word epic I would use it to describe today. It really was incredible. I got going bright and early around quarter of 6 and walked across a huge valley into these big rock formations. This is Canyon and mesa country. I felt like I was in a Wile E. Coyote cartoon. We walked through slickrock canyons, around  buttes, on the edges of mesas and up and down rock formations all day. It truly was spectacular. Plus, we didn’t see anybody. Besides Queen B and Speed I didn’t see another hiker all day. I mean I know it’s a weekday and everything but this place is awesome, I can’t believe nobody else is out here enjoying it. Then to cap off the day we finished the book we’ve been reading as a group,  Huck Finn. One of my favorite thru hiking activities is to read books as a team with my hiking partners. I like to read the classics because they’re usually free on my phone and also they’re classics for a reason. I’m frugal and I’m ultralight. Queen B and I started Huck Finn at the beginning of the trail and Speed joined in for the last hundred pages or so. Both thumbs all the way up by the way. Next on the docket is John Steinbeck’s Grapes of Wrath. Let me know if you have any suggestions. We found a place to cowboy camp just beyond a canyon with a spring and only 15 miles from Cuba our next town. 

Day 24     5/23     15 miles 

Cruised right on into Cuba, NM this morning. Had one little miscommunication with my hiking partners earlier. I was the first out of camp this morning, as usual, and after about 10 miles I went off trail to get water at a windmill and I thought these two were planning to stop there. Turns out they had enough water and were going straight into town. So I stayed off trail by the windmill chilling out and stuff and they bee lined right past on the regular trail. I thought they were behind they thought I was ahead. After an hour or so of them not showing I turned and burned and picked up their tracks going into Cuba. No big deal, these things happen. We met up in town and crushed some cheeseburgers before going about our day doing town chores and stuff. Speed’s got a buddy that’s picking us up and putting us up for the night at his house nearby. Things are good! Loving the trail so far and excited for the trail ahead. Follow my insta if you want @endlesspsummer for more pictures. 

-Endless

PS All My Love!!! 

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