Day 22: Beauty and a beast (31miles)
Deep in Trump country and sleeping in a ditch next to a road, I was afraid of getting hit by a beer can thrown out of a car, but nothing happened. I got up at 6am and entered the Grill half an hour later. Still half an hour, before they actually opened, but everyone was nice and helpful and so I got an early breakfast.
(each tile on the wall shows local brandings for cattle)
I stayed a little bit longer, to get my electronics charged up to 70% and than headed out. 70% wasn't much, but I was sure it would be sufficient for the next 2 days. 6miles out of Alma I started the Mineral Creek trail. A stunningly beautiful canyon hike along old gold and silver mines that I truly enjoyed.
It was followed by a steep climb up to Bursum Road and another 3hour climb to Sandy Peak.
Here I had to make a decision. Either climbing up even further to the Mogollon Rim at an elevation of up to 10,000ft, or to stay on the slightly lower Bursum Road. I had seen recent pictures of insane storm and fire damage on that section and with a quite intimidating wind, I decided to stay on the more sheltered road.
(thousands of fallen trees)
Even here the wind pushed me from left to right, made terrifying howling noises and I heard several trees crack. The road allowed me to make good progress and so I camped some 4-5 miles from Turkeyfeather Pass, where another tough section was waiting for me.
Day 23: Obstacle course (34miles)
My goal for today was Doc Campbell's Post, the end of my GET section and the beginning of the Continental Divide Trail (CDT), a major milestone of my hike.
I knew that fire damage and erosion destroyed 90% of a 2-3mile section ahead of me and so I started early. The climb up to Turkeyfeather Pass was like an obstacle course, strenuous and slow going.
Several signs warned of a dangerous and not maintained trail. It got better on the southern side of the pass, where I followed the West Fork Trail of the Gila River (yes, the same river, that I had crossed in Arizona). In the beginning I scrambled through a narrow canyon, but than enjoyed a very well maintained trail all the way to the Gila Dwellings.
I walked pretty fast, as I had to do a lot of miles and so it happened that one of my trekking poles got stuck in a small hole and broke. For me, that's really annoying, as I need my poles to pitch my tent. From there it was another 3-4 miles to Doc Campbell's Post.
I arrived there at about 8:30pm and was greeted by a bunch of CDT hikers. The first hikers I had seen since Mammoth, 9 days ago. The store was already closed, but Money - one of the hikers - helped out with a soda. Even with my broken pole I was able to pitch my tent and endure a very cold night, with temperatures below freezing.
The Grand Enchantment Trail was rough, mostly slow-going, required a lot of navigation and left me with a few scars from all the bushwacking. Nevertheless, it was an exciting experience with some stunning views. For the rest of New Mexico the trail should become easier and faster.