Map of events
Joe’s Diner Logo

Home » Adventures » CDT » Journal » New Mexico » Cibola National Forest

CDT: Cibola National Forest (Cuba to Grants)

October 4

Today had more walks along the edges of mesas. The amount of trail that had been built here, just for the CDT, was amazing. Almost none of it followed roads or even jeep tracks. The route was mostly very well cairned the whole way too. The landscape had developed a lot more canyons, peaks, and pillars, very much out of a Wile E. Coyote short. The hiking was fun and had great views, but was also not the fastest path in the world. I should not care about that though, since I was safely ahead of the weather and needed not be in a hurry anymore. But I was on a mission from God to reach Grants Sunday morning to attend church, so I once again found myself hiking long days. At least with hiking late I got to see beautiful desert sunsets.

A desert canyon
Cabezon Peak
The desert sun setting behind the mountains

October 5

I took a risk (a.k.a. did not think about it the night before) by erecting my tent in an unsheltered area and lost, as the wind kept me awake over night. It was not a sandstorm, but still shook my tent enough such that sleep was only spotty.

Although tread had been built for the CDT here, I chose a road walk in the morning to make the miles pass quicker, even if they would be less interesting. The path climbed back into forest, drastically changing the landscape to again include trees. The road walk did some good as hunters passed by and after talking a few minutes offered me a very generous amount of snacks.

I cooked lunch next to a water tank with a dead bird in it — thank goodness the piped spring poured fresh water into the tank — before continuing on more roads which were now my only option. Nothing overly memorable occurred as I hammered out the distance and my joints barely held up for over thirty miles today — I think my longest mileage on the trail. Although my hardest and longest day on my feet still belongs to Labor Day, when I summited a couple 14ners and still hiked a long way afterwards.

The 4WD road the alternate CDT followed. I walked around 30 miles across roads this day.

October 6

I had a much better night’s sleep due to the long prior day, and finally dragged myself out of camp a little late. Very quickly I met Swami another CDT hiker, although that was a bit of an understatement. The CDT was his penultimate hike in a series of twelve around North America — 15,000 miles in 18 month. He intended to still thru hike the AT this year after soon finishing off this trail. He did not even start the CDT until August, a month and a half after me, but still caught up. He was quite the ambitious hiker. We hiked and navigated together for a while, but his faster pace and more ambitious schedule eventually left me in the dust.

I took the route to the top of Mt. Taylor, which had great views and climbed over 11,000 ft, although very briefly. After descending, I elected to stay mostly walking the forest roads instead of the CDT tread to make some miles. I wanted to be in Grants tomorrow morning to attend church, so I needed to get close to town. Hiking quickly along the road got me there, and I even barely climbed down the mesa before darkness enveloped the land. So baring a catastrophe, I should be in church Sunday morning. Now let us hope the laundry mat would be open early so I did not stink up the place.

The scenery around American Canyon Spring
Myself atop Mt. Taylor
A lonely tree in New Mexico

October 7 — Grants

Catastrophe almost happened, as the trailhead at which I semi-legitimately camped did not stay as deserted as when I arrived. A group of teenagers showed up to drink, and a couple other cars pulled in throughout the night. My tent was not much hidden from the parking lot either. Lying inside with these people nearby was a little nerve racking, but no one bothered me. Besides the revelers, the wind hit my tent at just the right angle to whip my fly and prevented much slumber throughout the night.

Nevertheless I was up early, walking in the dark past a prison (and not the historic frontier kind) and to a laundry mat to get cleaned up before church. My mission from God was successful as I arrived at Mt. Calvary Lutheran Church for bible study and Divine Service. They were a small but very friendly, and more importantly, faithful congregation. Hearing the word of God clearly preached and receiving the sacrament was a blessing. Access to church has been limited on the trail, and attending one of my denomination that used a liturgy I was familiar with was a joy.

After church I was walking the rest of the way through Grants when a car pulled up next to me. I was not being robbed, but Hugo Mums, the kind trail angel in Grants, popped out his head. Since I was just quickly passing through town I did not visit, but a thru hiker was very easy to recognize for someone who has hosted so many. Their generous reputation preceded them. They also maintain a few water caches around Grants. After a few words and thank-yous I continued through town and grabbed lunch, before leaving for a hike through Zuni Canyon, camping within its steep rock walls.

“Please do not pick up hitch-hikers” sign. Thankfully the trail went right through town, and I did not have to stick out my thumb here.
Walking through Grants I followed Historic Route 66 for a few miles