The Anatomy of a Resupply Box

I’ve had a bunch of questions from future long distance hikers about how I organise my resupply so thought I’d share the information here.

Being international, vegan and stoveless I’m hoping to share a tip or two for others who are finding themselves overwhelmed with figuring out what they want to eat in 4 months time ☺

Resupplies can be as complicated or easy as you want to make them.
I hike with a mix of pre-posted resupply boxes, I buy as I go, and I make new boxes in towns with good grocery stores to send ahead. I try to make the boxes as healthy as possible,  as it’s easy to buy junk food in towns when I have a hankering. When you are pushing your body hard everyday you want to give it it’s best chance to do well- you don’t put cheap fuel in a Ferrari and expect it to work well! 😉 Always everything vegan and cruelty free!

Here is what I like to pack:
For everyday I pack 1 breakfast, 1 lunch, 1 dinner, 3 bars, 1/2 to 1 cup salty trail mix. Then I also add a few sweet things (chocolate, sweet trail mix or lollies/ candy), plus sometimes some protein powder and always electrolyte drink mixes (2 electrolytes per day). If the weather is looking bad, high altitude, or a lot of elevation gain or loss then I’ll add in a little extra. I get hungry when it’s cold or I’m at altitude, and it’s good practice to have a little extra in case you get stuck in a storm and need to wait in the tent a day for weather to pass.

The food I like to eat!
Breakfast
– granola that I add some extra yummy things to such as freeze dried fruit, hemp seeds, chia seeds and some powdered soy milk (or protein powder)
– probars – Original Blend, Whole Berry Blast, Superfood Slam, Superfruit Slam, Superberry & Greens, or the probar base bars.
-oatmeal – easy!

Lunch
– crackers – Mary’s original or hemp or any kind of crackers with lots of yummy seeds (always trying to get extra nutrients!)
– almond butter or sunflower butter –  yum butter has great pouches that contain about 3 serves for me, a small plastic (not glass!) jar of nut butter is about 5/6 serves
– dried flattened bananas (trader joes)
– vegemite! If I can find it ☺

Dinner
I don’t carry a stove, but anything that says ‘just add boiling water’ will cold soak well. As long as you don’t need to simmer or cook for any length of time. I add the contents to my empty talenti container with water at my last break of the day and by camp time it’s ready.
– ramen – koyo brand has yum vegan ramen, ‘normal’ ramen noodles are vegan then you can add miso powder or vege bouillon cubes
– alpine aire – the vege burrito bowl and santa fe black beans and rice. Each pouch contains 2 serves.
– dehydrated black beans and refried beans – you can find these in the bulk food section of food co-ops. I also found a brand of instant beans at walmart that was yum!
– backpackers pantry – chana masala, Louisiana red beans and rice, kathmandu curry. I think each pouch is 2 serves (marked on the packet)
– just veggies – dehydrated veges to add to ramen or other food.

Snacks and Extras
– salty trail mix – not too spicey. I make it differently everytime but with lots of variety. Love tamari flavoured, smokey, vinegar, crunchy things. Yum! I never get sick of salty trail mix
– sweet trail mix – berries, nuts, dark choc, ginger. Yum!
– protein powder – vega brand, sunwarrior, spirutein are all yum and are available in individual serves
– bars- probars, kind bars (some are vegan), larabars, raw bars, macrobars, chia warrior, vega, cliff bars (some are vegan- check ingredients)
– kale chips, broccoli chips,  crunchy dehydrated green beans
– nori – yum! Also good to add to dinner
– Lenny and Larry’s cookies
– chocolove chocolate
– salazan chocolate
– Justin’s individual serves of nut butters
– dried or freeze dried (much lighter!) fruit
– lemon coconut macaroons mmm
– electrolytes – scratch raspberry flavour is my favourite! Nuun is another good brand
– dark chocolate covered espresso beans to bounce up the mountains
– anything awesome that  is vegan!

Other Things
– each box I also add a travel pack of Wet wipes  (biodegradable if I can find them)
– some zip locks – I repack most things into ziplocks as it’s lighter than the original packaging
– every now and then a new toothbrush, a travel toothpaste,  maybe travel/ sample of suncream or moisturiser
– shampoo / conditioner – I cut up the solid shampoo / conditioner bars from  Lush and put in a few boxes – luxury!!!
– vitamins – I send a multivitamin, turmeric and magnesium to help decrease inflammation and aid muscle repair.

Don’t forget to check what resupply and restaurants there are in town. I’ll often add some vegetable or chia squeeze pouches or other heavier snacks I can eat in town, or an extra dinner if it looks like greasy fries will be the only food option.

Packing Out Of Town

When in town, I’ll often hit up a grocery for hummus and some veges to snack on, as well as green juice or smoothies to buy. If it’s a shorter food carry I might pack out an avocado or fruit to eat the first day.

Where To Buy
Between Whole foods, trader joes, REI, co-op markets and any grocery/ supermarket you’ll find all of the above ☺

How To Post
Always (unless specifically told otherwise) send USPS priority flat rate boxes. This means you can bounce ahead if necessary for no extra charge. I try to post to a hotel or business where possible instead of the post office general delivery. This saves having to wait in town if you arrive on a weekend and find the post office closed.

That’s it! If you have any great tips please comment below.  This post will be updated as I think of more things to make it more useful. Happy eating!

CDT Intermission

All you need is the plan, the road map, and the courage to make it to your destination. – Earl Nightingale

 

I made the decision to flip north to the Canadian border to finish the rest of the CDT SOBO (southbound), so now I’m a NO-SOBO ☺ This is for a couple of reasons – south San Juan mountains still have a lot of snow, avalanche danger there due to the weather warming up and snow melting,  and loooong days with not many miles and lots of postholing.

I probably could have waited a week once I got to Chama for better conditions but decided to instead join a good friend I hiked the PCT in Washington with plus another hiker, hang out for a week in Denver then drive to Montana. Yay hiking with people! This will also have me starting south just as the majority of SOBO hikers are starting.  I’m very happy to be hiking grizzly country with lots of others around.

From Cuba I managed to hitch an amazing ride to Colorado with a mum & son all the way to Pagosa Springs. We stopped on the way to drop mum home, and she sent me off with a bag of blueberries, rockmelon (cantaloupe) and some apples!!! So kind and so yum!

I made it to Pagosa just as some nasty looking storm clouds were gathering overhead, managed to get what seemed to be the last room in town at the Pinewood Inn (there was a folk bluegrass festival on, plus it’s a popular weekend destination), had some dinner then soaked my weary muscles at the Overlook hot springs while watching a lightning storm from the rooftop across the town and over the mountains. Hooray for hot springs!

Pagosa has such a lovely atmosphere to it. Very cute town, fantastic scenery and friendly people. I was in Pagosa back in January and enjoyed soaking at the big hot springs after a day of skiing at Wolf Creek. I’ve been dreaming about this stop since the start of the hike! Now I get to go twice as the trail goes through wolf creek pass and I’ll be hitching to Pagosa from wolf creek to resupply (and soak!) when I pass back through coming south.

The next morning as I’m drinking an almond milk latte (real coffee!!) and eating my banana in the sun on the chair outside my room, I strike up a conversation with a group of Harley riders who were also staying at the hotel. They are a group of friends who take a few trips a year on their bikes and were on their last day of a 5 day loop around Colorado  – headed home to Colorado Springs. A little more chatting and I’m offered a ride on the back of one of the bikes! Say yes to adventure! But I have a pack…No worries! My pack was strapped down, I handed in my room key and suddenly I find myself on the back of a Harley heading up and over wolf creek pass. Wow.

Holy moly! Wolf creek pass is absolutely spectacular; I can’t imagine a better way to see the pass than on the back of a bike. I have to keep reminding myself to stop grinning like a fool from fear of bugs entering my mouth 😉 I tried to take some photos, but it’s tricky on a bike! We saw elk, mountain goats, marmot, coyote, an eagle. Colorado went whooshing past with sunny skies and a warm sun. Rivers and lakes, mountains and fields. Everything bright, everything beautiful and fast!!! Quite different from my slow walking pace. So so lucky and again- so grateful. Happy Snakebite! Hooray for adventure!

Then I was picked up by Grizzly (new trail name for Mr Smith!) and taken to Denver for a week of green smoothies, good food, some hiking, game of thrones marathon and organising resupply for Montana amd Wyoming. We managed to snag some last minute tickets and saw the Lumineers at red rocks amphitheatre! It took all my energy not to jump off the trail, grab my violin and join a band (ps who wants to form a band with me when I get home??!).

I changed some of my gear too in preparation for the colder temperatures in Glacier national park- I picked up microspikes, an ice axe, a heavier rain jacket and rainpants. I also ordered a new pack! I’ve tried my best to love the osprey exos because it is so comfy on my shoulders and back, but the hip belt kills me. I find the material too flimsy so the weight isn’t distributed across it, but is instead concentrated in one spot, really hurting my hips and making the tops of my legs go numb. No bueno. Fingers crossed my new 6 moons fusion pack does the job!

Oh and yes, my big giant spanner. Long story short I had to wait for some documents to be sent from Perth, took a last minute flight to LA to have them witnessed at the consulate, back on a plane to head to Kalispell in Montana…except my flight from LA was delayed 1.5hours, so I missed the connecting flight and got stranded in Salt Lake City. 😣😣😣

Finally found a hotel (Delta better be reimbursing me!!!), had a measly couple of hours sleep, then back to the airport and headed to Montana where I was reunited with Grizzly, Crunchmaster, Grizzly’s Dad and Stepmom and my pack that drove 16hours from Denver to get there.

Glacier National Park requires permits and reservations for specific campsites, so we stopped in for a visit at the ranger station and watched a video on bear and camping safety before the permits were issued.

One final night in a warm bed, before getting on the shuttle to Chief Mountain tomorrow!

I’ve now had too long off and I’m sooooo ready to start hiking again. My body is probably happy with the rest, but my mind is antsy! Must hike! Must cuddle all the bears! 😉

 

 

CDT Day 28

30 miles hiked, sleeping in Cuba NM @ 6906ft
It was a warm warm night- the first I think where I haven’t worn my puffy to bed. I can tell already upon waking that today is going to be hot. It’s cool now, but the promise of heat is mixed in there somehow.
My bag is heavy with water as there is only one water stop 15 miles from here.
Onwards I hike- a climb to wake me up that goes along a dirt road then weaves up through boulders to land me on top of the ventana mesa. The view across the valley is amazing. I’m surrounded by red, orange and blonde rocks, and every now and the sections of white rock with holes and nooks and crannys worn in that make me think of Gaudi.  A rattle snake rattles me awake as I wander in a daze through the heat. The cool rocks in the shade are perfect to sit or lie upon and lure me in from the heat many times. I lean back on the rocks against my pack and stare at the sky above as elephants, rabbits, Strawberry Shortcake, and dragons float past, with the warm breeze blowing on my sweat soaked shirt.
My day is scheduled by food rations; I do my best miles with no food! In 5 miles you can have a bar, another 5 some nuts, another 5 some spoonfuls of granola. I try to ration my remaining larabar but confirm (as I have long long suspected) it is impossible. Try it. You can’t eat just half a larabar.
After descending the mesa, dinner is delicious refried beans (so yum!) that I gobble down whilst sitting on a rock, watching the sun go down across a field. Temperature – perfect.
I am a couple miles from the road and have to decide if I’ll camp here or hustle into town which is a highway walk away. This is my last camping chance as I don’t want to be near the hwy. It’s such a beautiful night. I can’t decide if that means take advantage and hike on, or stop and camp in it.
Ultimately the pull of the miles, the Canada magnet pulls me onwards. It’s been an amazing day- my favourite so far – I’m feeling good and keen to keep going.
It is still warm but there is a beautiful cool breeze. The sky fades to a mix of orange, pinks and purples, lighting up the mountains ahead of me. There are a few whispy clouds adding in some beautiful coloured accents. Everything is absolutely perfect for a magic night’s hiking. Except that I’m on a highway.
The air does that fabulous swirl of hot pocket of air and cold pocket of air, all mixed in together but separate. I try to stay as close to the edge as possible. There is no real shoulder here- the road drops down to ditches either side that are overgrown with prickly bushes and land mines of broken bottles, rubbish and snakes are ready to grab you. I don’t understand snakes and roads? I’ve seen more dead snakes than alive ones, and they are always on the sides of roads. RATTLE RATTLE RATTLE GET OFF MY ROAD!!! Well that one certainly isn’t dead.
The sky turns black, the stars come out. I have my headlamp around my neck pointing to the ground so oncoming cars can see me but I’m not shining light into their eyes, something many of them don’t think about for me as I’m blinded by their lights on high beam.
Dogs bark, people yell, and finally I’m in town. It is late and the office of the hotel that is “hiker friendly” is closed. There is a number to call but I’ve no service! I walk down the road and into a liquor store just as they are closing, and the nice guy there lets me use his phone.
Finally I’m in a room, armed with some oatmeal for second dinner from the hiker box. This is my last night in New Mexico – I’ve made plans to hitch to Denver this weekend and drive to Montana Sunday week from Denver with my new/ old hiking partners Crunchmaster and Hiker-formerly-known-as-Mr-Smith (I hiked Washington PCT with last year) – new trail name TBA- and hike the rest of the trail southbound (SOBO).
My phone beeps to life with the wifi and holy crap a big spanner has just been thrown into my hike. Big spanner. I send emails and hope for the best, but timing and needing to get documents from Australia to here to sign at a consulate is going to be hard. AND it’s a public holiday on Monday in Perth (today is Friday). Soooo….
If I miss the ride to Montana… then what? I’m done with hiking this trail all alone. If I get back on here in Cuba I’ll be even worse off. I don’t like my chances of getting to Montana via hitching…and I don’t want to hike grizzly country alone up there.
I lie awake stressing, hoping that the anxiety attacks that have plagued me for the past couple of years stay away. Sleep doesn’t come until 2am…maybe the morning will have some answers.

CDT Day 27

20.5 miles hiked, official mile 629.7, camping @ 6368ft
Just as the sun starts to think about peeking out above the horizon, the birds of New Mexico herald his arrival with chirps and calls and songs. I think it’s a competition to see who can chirp louder, longer, more beautifully. Their songs wake me and I crack an eye open to confirm that yes, there is light.
It’s already pretty warm and I’m up and headed across the meadow for a couple of miles before the steep descent into the valley of canyons and shapes and cliff faces. The view is stunning from the top and changes to reveal something new with each gravelly switchback. Down down down. I stop a few times for inadequate photos and once I’m finally at the bottom I veer off the road towards the water source. I lie on the ground and lean over the edge of a concrete tank to scoop out the clear water from below. Lots of floaters, but clear.
I drink a bunch and filter a bunch as it’s hot today, eat too many snacks (sorry future Snakebite) and head out.
Just as I’m arriving at the trail junction I see another hiker!!!! Another hiker!!!
“Ahoy!” I yell.
A real life thru hiker named Judd. He’s a speedy one, started well after me and is smashing out 25-30 miles a day to catch up to the herd.
It’s hot and exposed. There are mean bitey flies that attach themselves to my colourful leg-protectors, only detaching when I flick them off. Through some sandy wash, over a salty riverbed, up and down climbing in and out of little beds and canyons. A lonely tree calls me and a I park underneath, airing out my feet and eating things. Salty things. It’s a hot day and all I want is the salt.
Some more climbing, some more awesome views for high above.  A lot more heat. Oh my goodness I hope there is some water at the next water stop.
I stare at the valley below, and see far off in the distance some power lines which are near the road where a magical cache may be hiding. So slow. I sit on a rock and let the warm breeze blow against the sweat. I hike some more and do it again.
I’m out of water and have arrived at the road. But there is no cache. I’m nearly crying because I’m so thirsty. I’ve been dreaming about apples and mandarins and cool cool drinks for the past 5 miles. I keep walking up out of the little dip on the side of the road, cross a dirt road and in front of me is the amazing oasis. WATER JUGS! A COOLER! THE CACHE IS REAL!
I’m so focused on the jugs and making sure they aren’t empty that I don’t see Judd in the shade until I’m right up at the cache.
“I’ve been vortexed! I’ve got signal.” No luck for me with AT&T.
I drink water and open the cooler. APPLES! Hooray for apples! There are granola bars and pop tarts as well but both have dairy. I find out that Judd is also vegan! YEOW. Of the 6 other hikers I’ve met, 3 of us are vegan. Viva la vegan-lution! He hikes on while Im munching on my apple. Best apple I can ever remember. Amazing.
I sit for too long, fill up my water and make a measly 1 more mile before calling it a night past a herd of cows near a broken windmill.
It’s a warm night to match the warm day! I roll the tarp vestibule up and sleep with the warm breeze blowing around me, grateful for fresh fruit and the kindness of strangers.

CDT Day 26

21.8 miles hiked, official mile 609.2 camping @ 7976ft
Yesterday I listened to a podcast with Arianna Huffington about her new book on sleep. So many interesting points, but a big one was waking up without an alarm, as an alarm has you commence your day in flight or fight mode. Finish sleeping when you need to finish sleeping.
I wholeheartedly embrace this and wake up with the sun this morning…at 5:30am. Clearly this isn’t going to work and I close my eyes again for a half hour… except that it isn’t a half hour, it’s 1.5hours!
I definitely needed it as I’m not in the best mental space right now. I love hiking my myself, making my own rules, doing exactly what I want. But I miss my hiker family, chatting with other hikers about their adventures, camping with others at night, hanging in town. Being one of the last hikers to start a NOBO hike means that I’ve not many hikers around me. Flipping to finish the hike as a SOBO has always been a possibility due to the large amount of snow that is currently holding up hikers at the New Mexico / Colorado border. If I flip I can give the snow time to melt so I’m not hiking in avalanche conditions, as well as having hikers around me as I hike through grizzly country.  It all seems to add up to a good idea and I make the decision. I’m going to be a NO-SOBO hiker!
Mood lifted, I slowly get up, eat some things, meditate, pack up my things, hike on.
The sun is shining and it’s a lovely day as I march along the dirt road. I yell good morning to the cows and turn on my podcasts.
The water stop is pretty gross. I have to climb down into a canyon and collect water from a sludgy pool there. I filter it and add my tastiest electrolytes (raspberry Scratch! Yum!) but it tastes like feet. Raspberry feet.
I walk on a little ways and a truck comes along so I stand off to the side to let them pass. It’s 2 men who live close by and offer me water!!! Um Yes please!!! The trail provides.
A couple more miles and I sit down on the edge of the road in a little spot of shade to eat lunch. Sunflower butter and crackers is the lunch of choice for this resupply. The past 2 days I’ve been spoilt as I packed out some bagels – luxury! Bagels gone, it’s crackers today. As I sit and munch I see some clouds gathering in the distance. Hmmm…what do you think you are doing clouds??
A bunch more miles and the next water is down a big giant canyon half a mile off trail. I think this is the farthest I’ve gone off trail for water this hike, but it’s described as clear and the best water in this section so I’m keen. Over a barbed wire fence and the water is wonderful! A pipe flows into an algae filled trough, but the water flowing is great. I take more than is needed for this stretch as I don’t think the next water will be as nice. I’ll put up with the heavy pack.
 I’m back up the top of the canyon climb adjusting my pack, and see some white things falling on the ground. Noooooo! Another hail storm! I quickly put on my jacket and put the rain cover on my pack and it starts pelting!!! So much hail it covers the ground making it completely white.
After 10 or so minutes it slows down so I make a run for it and eventually get clear of the storm cloud. I can hear it grumbling behind me for a while but just keep telling it to rack off. It doesn’t listen and instead decides to rain. Blergh.
Oh well on I hike in the rain, until it rains no more.
The road turns into a trail that goes cross country. I see a clearing in the distance and head towards it to be surprised with a magnificent view! I’m on top of a huge cliff face and there is a gorgeous valley filled with all kinds of cool geological structures. I’m headed down there in a few miles.
It’s an awfully steep descent so I choose to camp up top in the most sheltered spot I can find – the wind is doing her thing again tonight! Ramen, vitamins, water, teeth, sleep.

CDT Day 25

19.1 miles hiked, 8343ft
(Camping at official route mile 588.5)
It’s a nice steep climb to wake me up this morning. I’ve 1795ft to climb over 2.8miles, to get me to the top of Mt Taylor at 11,309ft. The official trail does some strange skirting around the mountain, so I take the Ley alternate which goes up and over.
I stop on the way for water which is a little ways off the trail but a nice piped slow trickle of clear water to take me the next 8 miles.
Soooo sleeeeepy. I think someone has stolen my eyes and replaced them with a pair that are only happy when shut. I could easily lie down and nap for a few hours.
Altitude and I aren’t really friends. I love to visit but can’t stay long. When I climbed Gokyo Ri in Nepal I felt like I was drunk and on a violently rocking boat. Through the whole Sierra on the Pacific Crest Trail I was so so so sleepy. I only got up and over the passes thanks to the magical power of sour patch kids.
This must be my unhappiness altitude point. Somewhere between 10,000 and 11,000 ft is where I stumble into a field of poppies with Toto and close my eyes until Matcha Tea, the Good Witch of Caffeine, comes to save me. This does not augur well for Colorado with all her altitudiness.
I finally ( finally!) make it to the top and take a few pics of the gorgeous view of everything I hiked below. I begin the descent on the other side of the mountain where there is snow! I unexpectedly posthole a little as I make my way through the trees. At the bottom I realise I have another little climb ahead of me, and the grumbling I hear isn’t just my stomach but the collection of dark grey clouds that have decided to congregate above my head. I go as fast as I can…which is very slow. When I make it over the highest point and there is still no rain I sit for a little bit and shovel in some food. As I’m about to pack up I see little balls of white start to accumulate around me. Hail!!! Thankfully not as big or hard as the hail the bruised me in the Gila. Pack cover on, raincoat on, I head down the road. There is a huge blinding flash right in front of my eyes accompanied by a pant-soilingly loud clap of thunder above me!
Eeeps.
Just keep hiking just keep hiking.
The hail and thunder fade away and I get to the next water source where I have to grab 4L as it’s 18miles and overnight before I’ll get to the next water. Blergh heavy pack.
I sit on a rock surrounded by yellow daisy-like flowers filtering the water into various containers. The sound of the water splashing from the spring is too soothing and I have to move now or contend with a real possibility of setting up camp at 2:30pm.
I climb over a fence and rejoin the dirt road, and predictably miss my turnoff onto the trail. I’m just about to turn around when I see something heading onto the road ahead. A horse! Another horse! A foal! A whole herd of wild horses!!! Probably not a whole herd, but about 10 of all different colours. I watch them for a minute before they are alerted to my presence. One horse gives the signal “SHNUFF!” and they gallop back into the trees.
More dirt road walking, more sitting on side of dirt road trying to muster energy. I drink things and eat things but nothing seems to help. I resign myself to a crappy mileage day and backtrack a little to call it a night when the terrain turns really rocky. The clouds are mustering again and the wind is doing her crazy dance. I manage to find a space between/ underneath some trees, kick away all the cow poop and as many rocks as possible, and huddle into my bed for the night. Chilly chilly chilly!!! Oh I miss my doggies! I need them here to sandwich me with their fluffy warmth! (And protect me from bunyips).

CDT Day 23 and 24

Day 23- Zero miles hiked! Hooray 2nd trail zero!
Day 24 – 18 miles hiked, 9514ft
After a day off yesterday attending to all the hiker town chores (and eating a LOT of food! I’ve been too cold and have decided I need to put some weight back on to keep me toasty. High fives to Ben & Jerry’s for their new almond milk icecream!), and moving to a marginally superior hotel down the road, getting out of the cozy cozy bed is haaard. I somehow manage to drag my butt out and under a glorious hot shower. Showers are never taken for granted when hiking!
I eat some toast and drink some coffee at the hotel breakfast (made infinitely better by the banana I added to the toast and the choc coconut milk I add to the coffee! Always come prepared!).
I return a couple of things to walmart (I purchased all my resupply at walmart!) and pick up a smart water bottle (clean bottle! Amazing!) then spend way too long faffing about, downloading things, uploading things,  getting the latest water report, chatting to people. Finally I’m ready after dropping off some stuff in the hiker box ( wish I’d known it was here before I bought food! I could have almost resupplied just from the box) and rifling through to find some electrolytes.
An awesome soul takes pity on me hiking next to the horrible (and dangerous 🙁 ) hwy and drives me the 2 miles back to where I left off the ‘trail’ (main road in town). 2 non-trail miles saved! Hooray!
I walk through town and veer off along the highway towards Mt Taylor. I pass some very young looking kids, including a girl who can be no older than 12, on the side of the road who are shooting things in the paddock beyond. Ever heard of board games?? Reading a book??
A fenced in facility looms ahead and I realise the road goes right next to a prison. Please no-one be outside, please no-one be outside. I breathe a sigh of relief as there isn’t anyone around as I walk past, but my pace quickens slightly regardless. Can I walk past less sketchy things now please???
Finally I arrive at the trailhead. I plonk down and eat some things from my heavy heavy foodbag then start the climb.
Up and around a sandy rocky mountain with a few spikey trees thrown in. I chat to some day hikers and keep going up. It flattens out for a while into a field, then joins a dirt road through pine forest,  and evenually veers off the road to a walking track. I can see on my map where it’s going to get very steep soon so I start looking for a campsite which ends up being tricky due to all the little hills around the trees. The only flat spots are right on the track. I find something that’ll work and I clear away as many pine cones and sticks as I can.
Today I’ve gone from 6453 to 9514ft – a rare climb in New Mexico!
There’s something not too far away howling as the light disappears; it sounds different from the yip yipping coyotes I’m used to. Maybe wolves? I’ve no idea if they are up this way. I strain to hear better and get an earful of turkeys chiming in with their gobbling for comic relief. Goodnight turkeys ☺

CDT Day 22

24.9 miles hiked, a pillow under my head tonight in the town of Grants.
It was a gorgeous night under the stars. My little steathly tree provided a good amount of protection from the wind that inevitably picks up at sunset and I slept well (amongst the cow poo, obviously New Mexico). I’m crossing fingers there is water at the next windmill as there is conflicting information between the latest water report I have and the notes that have been left in the Guthook app, otherwise my brain is busy calculating plans to hike back to the road and possibly flag someone down for some water. Or even hitch to town and then come back with water… not sure what will happen.
I get to the windmill and as feared it has been turned off, with only a couple of inches of slime at the bottom. Crappppp. I put my pack down and get out my scoop, resigning myself to my fate of filtering sludge when I spy some containers under a tree. The amazing Mumms have done it again! The trail angels who stock the last cache have started one here too! From the looks of things I may be the first person to use it, and I am so so grateful for the little bottles of water that I thirstily gulp down and with which I fill up my bottles. YAY water! YAY no road walk!
Through the canyon I hike, today not striking me as a podcast day, but instead a sing-a-long day. I spent nearly an entire day before I left creating playlists on Spotify for this trip. One for general everyday miles, one for singing along, one for climbing mountains, and one for chilling in camp at night. The most beautiful chaotic mix of genres that satisfy my music ADD, that are public so if anyone loves a random mix, follow along 😃 . There are also some secret ones with a lot of songs from Disney, musicals and classical pieces  😉
The first canyon ends and joins up to a busy dusty road. Still pretty, but biiiiig clouds of white dust explode around the tires of all the pickups (apparently the official car of New Mexico) that drive through. Thank goodness for my ever trusty buff – it covers my mouth and nose for most of the day. Snakebite the Backroad Bandit.
A clump of trees provide some respite from the sun as I eat my sunbutter and crackers, chilling with the cows on the side of the road. As I hike on in the afternoon I make the mistake of turning my phone off plane mode and it zaps and bleeps and bings to life with the noise of a thousand messages from the week. A little roadside sit to answer some of the more pressing messages and emails turns into a vortex. I realise the day is getting late and I have a shower somewhere in the town of Grants calling my name.
The dirt road ends as I exit the canyon and it turns to hard highway punching my feet as I walk. I receive the usual unhappy greeting from the local dogs and I hike past their homes, and can see the busy highway that I have to walk in the distance, teasing me into thinking it is coming soon when I still have a bunch more miles to go.
Up onto the busy highway, over the bridge with the interstate, then 3 more miles down the main street of Grants that is filled once again with closed down businesses and ghosts of a town that once was (or that never came to be?).
I’m done at the first hotel and pay for a cheap room. Clean sheets, hot shower and wifi that works for my phone call are all I need tonight.
Laundry in my rainjacket and what is left of my rainpants, dinner from Walgreens (a green juice and bag of dehydrated snap peas) and I wait up long after hiker midnight to make my call. Blergh to time difference!
Then I fade away in exhaustion to the land of nod, with clean hair and sunburnt skin.

CDT Day 21

May 27, 2.5 miles into bonita-zuni alternate @ 7005 ft, about 21 miles hiked
A beautiful sunrise bounces off the hills and fields around me. I eat some random bits of things and fill my pack with more bits of things for later, pack up my little world of small comforts and put it on my back.
Walking along the side of the highway is never fun. It’s 11 miles and then I have a choice – either another 23 miles along the road ( 23 miles!!!), or cut across the lava fields for 8ish miles (it’s likely around 3 miles longer than that as you can’t accurately account for the elevation gain and loss of climbing up and down giant lava rocks), plus 24.1 miles through a couple of canyons. I’m undecided as I’m walking along the first section of the highway.  I pass by a trail head parking lot (Rubbish bins! Toilets! Luxury! ) – perfect timing for second breakfast so I sit at one of the little picnic tables (Table! Chair! Luxury!) and munch on a larabar while poring over my maps. The rim trail goes along the top of the mesa above the road where I’m supposed to be walking and looks a lot moe exciting than bitumen. It will involve a bushwhack at the end to get down, which is supposed to be very steep, is a little longer in distance and will take a lot longer but I decide I’ll chance it anyway.
As this trail has so many alternates available, and the ‘official’ route is only 85% complete, I have decided to adopt some self-policed precepts, being 1) I will take the most scenic/ beautiful routes, 2) Scenery being equal I will take the most efficient route and 3) I’m going to try really really hard to have continues footsteps (meaning there will be no gaps in my walking and my footsteps will join together in a nice long line across the country). So whilst this route is not the most efficient, it is infinitely more scenic than road walking.
I climb up to the top and after around half an hour I see why this is a popular trail with day hikers. I’m towering high above the road which hugs the  base of the mesa, and the view goes all the way across the Malpais (the ‘badlands’) lava flow. Yay good decision.
Then the time for the bush whack arrives. while the trees and shrubs and plants aren’t tightly packed, they are dense enough for me to have to zigzag a hell of a lot to get around. Of course it’s hot, and of course I’ve timed this to be the middle of the day. After many scratches and bumps on th head from branches I see the trail drop off ahead. Of course it does – it’s a straight cliff down towards La Ventana arch! So very very cool! I scramble along the top of the cliff trying to find a better place to clamber down, finally finding the only place that will work, and that my topo maps seem to indicate is the least steep. I see some cascadia prints in the sand and smile knowing that in the middle of nowhere here, there has been a thru-hiker before me!
it’s a tricky rock scramble down. Im ever conscious that this is very lovely looking space for a snake; with every tentative footfall and reach I expect to hear a rattle! No snakes and I make it to the bottom with shaky legs.
I park my butt on the ground in a sliver of shade and eat some sunbutter and crackers while gazing at the very cool arch. A day hiker arrives, then returns to his car to collect a cold bottle of water to give me!
On the road again. I have some more water cached by the awesome Slip at the trailhead that heads across El Malpais. There’s also a big water cache there from some local trail angels- without them it would be a loooong dry section. I’ve got a deadline to be in Grants by tomorrow night for a phone call I have to make to Australia, but I decide I’m making good enough time so I’m going to push through the badlands and the canyons instead of having to endure the rotten roadwalk (which is actually the official trail!).
I know from the PCT in Oregon that lava and my feet are not great friends. Lava and anyone’s feet are actually not great, and if you are on the last couple of days of your shoes you will definitely feel it! I climb up and down and all around mordor, following the tricky to find cairns. Lots of scrambling, a few expletives sprinkled about as I scratch myself and lose the trail.The sky opens up in the afternoon and I’m so busy hiking fast to get out from under the cloud that is following me that I totally lose the trail. I hike back to where I last knew I was on track – all the lava looks the same so it’s tricky! Finally back on track the lava fades away and I’m on a trail leading me to the next road crossing.
The light is fading and again I find myself near a highway. Bah. I cross the road and see a good patch of trees that I think will work for stealth camping, but just as I’m putting down my pack a couple of random pickups drive right past me, so I decide to hike on a little more into the canyon.
About 2.5 miles later I find a perfect little nook under the arch of a tree, and just as the coyotes and stars come out to dance I fade away.

CDT Day 20

25.2 miles hiked, somewhere near 117
Oooooh it’s chilly. I’m buried under a quilt and another blanket I grabbed during the night as it was really cold. The bed is warm but the air really cold inside the rv. I delay as long as I can and finally get up and quickly put on all my layers.
The Thomas’ like to sleep in so I said my goodbyes and giant thank yous last night, so as soon as I’m packed up and filled another litre of water I’m on the road at 7.
Today is a lots of podcasts day. A long dirt road walk with not many distractions. After about 10 miles it turns and heads into a small canyon area, which makes a nice difference from having all the local ranchers in their pickup trucks zooming past and spraying clouds of dust on me. The awesome Slip who got off trail yesterday cached some water for me here at the turnoff on his way to Grants yesterday and it is very exciting when I find it! No mucky cow water for me today! Cheers Slip!!!
The canyon is pretty, with some ruins and old cabins, some climbs up and around rocks. Yay trail not road!
I’m really hungry today! Maybe a result of the cold night and cold wind blowing today. As soon as temperature drops on trail I want to eat the world. I manage to gorge on protein powder, probar, fig bar, some dark chocolate, a trail side lunch of almond yum butter and crackers, plus muchos handfuls of trail mix and I could easily eat more! My last little break on the side of the road I soak my ramen in my little talenti container so it’ll be ready when I get to camp.
The detour from the main road is ending in about a mile and I can’t see any trees or anything that will hide me from the highway. I’m not keen on hiking the hwy and finding no suitable campsites so I get my last water from a windmill and call it a night early about a mile from the road. I’ve been following what I think are bobcat tracks all afternoon, so maybe they’ll want to keep me warm and company in my little tarp?  Goodnight kitty cats!