CDT 2021: Day 19, Valle Tio Vences Campground to Davila Ranch

A big ol' plate of ranch-style beans

A wary steer watches near a road

While preparing to leave, I walked over to introduce myself to the four thru-hikers who arrived late yesterday. They were Lone Wolf, No Keys, Tex, and Moonshine. They seemed to enjoy being around each other.

As part of our preparations to get back on the trail, Zigzag and I walked to a spring on the other side of the road to collect water. We found an insulated jacket nearby and deduced it belonged to DhammaBum. He didn't stay at the campground last night, so he was probably several miles ahead of us by now.

DateSaturday, May 1, 2021
WeatherIncreasing clouds with temperatures from mid-30s to mid-70s
Trail ConditionsGravel or dirt road all day, starting with one long climb and descent
Today's Miles16.2
Trip Miles295.5

Before leaving, I asked Cheshire Cat which direction he was going. If he was heading to Davila Ranch or Pie Town, I thought maybe he would be willing to deliver DhammaBum's jacket.

Unfortunately, he didn't plan to go that way. He told me his car had a cracked radiator and he needed to find a repair shop to get it repaired.

That was okay, I told him. There's a good chance we will catch up to DhammaBum today or tomorrow. We'll carry the jacket and try to deliver it to him.

We then said goodbye to Jerry, the man who gave us coffee and candy bars yesterday, before finally walking at 7:40 a.m.

Zigzag talks to Cheshire Cat

As soon as I started up the road toward Mangas Mountain, a thought came to me. I should have given Taxilady's phone number to Cheshire Cat. I felt bad about not thinking of that earlier. It might have been helpful if his car overheated.

Just two minutes later, we found Cheshire Cat. He was walking on the road with his dog Stella. I was able to pass along Taxilady's number.

I also gave him some money. He was reluctant to take it. So far as I know, he has never asked for money from any of the hikers he's helped. Given the circumstances and with as much as he does for us, this seemed like the right thing to do.

Zigzag walks on the road up Mangus Mountain

Walking up the road to the mountaintop took about two hours. It was a 1,500-foot climb in just under four miles. That rate wasn't too steep, and the road made it easier than most climbs.

A view through a gap in trees

Only a couple of views were possible on the way up. They appeared through gaps in the trees. The sky wasn't crystal clear today, but I was still able to see mountains more than 50 miles away.

A hunter on an ATV passes Zigzag

A couple of hunters were on the road today. One was riding an ATV and he stopped briefly to talk to us. When he told us he was hunting turkeys, I thought about the one I saw yesterday. No wonder it looked nervous and jumped at every noise.

Zigzag made a noise like a turkey as we walked past another hunter. "Do you want to get shot?!" I laughed in a whisper-shout to him.

A sign announces the road to the lookout tower is closed

When we reached the top of Mangas Mountain, we were disappointed to see signs warning that the tower at the top was closed as a COVID-19 precaution. Under normal circumstances, visitors are allowed to climb the tower and talk to the Forest Service lookout who works there.

The tower was constructed by the Civilian Conservation Corps in 1934 and was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1988.

The road down Mangus Mountain was filled with rocks

The closure prevented us from going to the top of the mountain, which was at 9,694 feet above sea level. Still, we had reached the highest elevation of this hike so far.

The road going down the other side was filled with small rocks. I had to keep a close eye out for where I stepped. I didn't want to twist an ankle.

No Keys and Lone Wolf passed us soon after we crested the top of the climb. They were shortly followed by Tex.

Later, I did a double-take when No Keys and Lone Wolf passed us again. They said they had been talking too much and missed a turn.

We didn't see Moonshine until we stopped for lunch.

A pond that looks like it was filled with chocolate milk

The road made three sharp switchbacks on the way down. After the last one, it passed a small pond that looked like it was filled with chocolate milk. With as much trouble as I had filtering water yesterday, I wasn't about to attempt to filter any of that. Fortunately, I was already carrying plenty and didn't need more.

The road soon flattened and was no longer filled with rocks.

The road goes across flat terrain

After descending to the bottom of Mangas Mountain, the road became long and boring as it crossed flat desert terrain. At least a few cattle and the two unnamed peaks that looked like pyramids added a little interest to my walk.

Now that we were off the mountain and in open terrain, the temperature began to rise. The walk felt like I was back in the Bootheel.

I told some hikers later this road was more difficult than it should have been and they all agreed.

The entrance of Davila Ranch

I arrived at Davila Ranch at 4 p.m. DhammaBum wasn't here, so I couldn't give him his jacket.

Storm Mocker was here, along with the hikers we camped near last night.

Some bikepackers arrived later. They were riding the Great Divide Mountain Bike Route, which covers much of the same terrain as the CDT.

Davila Ranch cooking area

The owners of Davila Range had put together an assortment of amenities for hikers and bicyclists in a metal shed with a dirt floor. A refrigerator and a washing machine were powered by a solar generator. Cooking was done on propane burners, which were placed on logs to raise them off the ground.

Adjacent to this was a separate room with a toilet and another with a shower. There was even WiFi through a satellite connection. It wasn't the most elegant place to stay, but it provided what we needed.

The refrigerator was stocked with eggs and soft drinks, and nearby were cans of baked beans and potatoes, all for anyone who stayed here. Visitors were asked to make a donation, with $25 as the suggested amount.

Davila Ranch shed

The building was very plain with no windows. There was a canopy that might have been useful to sleep under. Except for Tex, however, everyone either cowboy camped or slept in a tent.

I decided to wash my town clothes but not my other clothes here. We were heading tomorrow to the Toaster House in Pie Town, and it also had a washing machine. It was reportedly broken, but just in case it was fixed by the time I got there, I decided to wait until tomorrow to wash the rest of my clothes.

While my clothes dried on a rack, I prepared a dinner of eggs, potatoes, and a full can of baked beans. That wasn't too many beans for me. I'm starting to get hiker hunger.

We gonna get a big ol' sausage
A big ol' plate of ranch-style beans
I could eat the heart of Texas
We gonna need some brand new jeans


"Nothing to tell now. Let the words be yours, I'm done with mine."ref.