Friday, November 8, 2013

Ghost Ranch to Grants, New Mexico: CDT 2013

Ok, ok, ok. I admit it. I AM "a little late." I was hit by two more arctic blasts in the last week and a half. The first storm arrived just as I was leaving Ghost Ranch. Several inches of snow fell on the mesas, and a good 4-10 inches of snow fell on the CDT in the San Pedro Wilderness, creating tough, slow, hiking conditions. The second storm arrived just before I entered the Cibola National Forest, once again dropping several inches of snow on the mesas, and on and around Mt. Taylor.

"Embrace the reality" was another saying of Captain's.
"You have to embrace the reality of what this trail throws at you," Captain told me a few weeks ago.
I did not expect to see snow south of Salida, CO. I did not expect to see snow south of Creede. I did not expect to see snow south of Chama, New Mexico. I did not expect to see snow south of Ghost Ranch, and I did not expect to see snow south of Cuba. Basically, poor planning on my part. But there you have it, I guess I should expect snow anywhere, anytime on this trail, especially this time of year.

I had to laugh out loud a few days ago after experiencing the coldest night on the trail by far, followed by the coldest morning I may have ever experienced in all my days alive on this planet. It was so cold it felt like my face was going to shatter and fall onto the trail in a hundred pieces. My beard had turned white due to frozen crystals forming from my breath. It was so cold, I had to jam my ice cold feet into ziplock bags and into my frozen shoes as if I was attempting to achieve "lotus feet," the art of Chinese foot binding. At the same time, it was so incredibly beautiful on the mesa, the ice crystals reflecting the morning sun. Thankfully, despite the cold mornings, it warmed up quickly each day.  

Even though the snow once again took center stage in my mind this week, I have to say that from Cuba to the Cibola National Forest was one of my favorite sections of trail so far. The trail traveled through canyon country with fantastic colors and sandstone formations. I also found my first arrowhead, and a few pieces of indigenous pottery, from who knows what day and age. The open spaces of the desert once again made me feel just plain happy.

Just a few weeks left to go before this journey comes to completion. I am hoping to do my best to simply take my time and soak it all in, even if it comes in the form of snow.


  1. Should be having a couple of warm days coming up.

    You've just crossed pretty much the only part of the CDT that I was familiar with-- The part around I-40. I drove through there in December 2011, after my Kentucky adventure. Day hiked in El Malpais. There was plenty of snow then, too. The other time I was in the area was in March, back in the 1990s. There was snow all over the area then, too. So don't dawdle too much longer on the trail!

  2. Excellent Skyhiker! I will write about El Malpais soon.