Maybe a labor shortage caused by COVID-19 was to blame, but some Cuba businesses had an odd disregard for their own posted hours. Zigzag and I noticed this more than once during our stay in town.
We attempted to eat breakfast this morning at the same restaurant where we ate dinner last night. A sign on the door said it was open at 8:30, but we found it closed.
Our backup plan was to go down the road to a gas station. Comments posted in the Guthook app had universal praise for the food there, but I was immediately skeptical when I walked in. The place looked much more like a convenience store than a diner. There was only one employee to manage the store and be the cook. Some of the items on the menu were not available.
I ordered a breakfast burrito, and it turned out to be good. I crossed my fingers there would be no unfortunate repercussions in the near future, like what happened to me twice on the PCT the day after eating Mexican food.
Zigzag and I returned to our room at the motel to take stock of our food and plan our resupply strategy for the next section of the trail.
We had several options for walking from Cuba to Chama. Many hikers take an alternate route through a retreat and education center called Ghost Ranch. Hikers have been allowed in the past to send a resupply box there, but the center stopped doing that this year as a precaution against COVID-19.
We decided to hike the Ghost Ranch Alternate but remained unsure how to handle our resupply when we got to the ranch.
There are options to take a bus from there. We could go to Chama, Abiquiu, Española, or Santa Fe. The longer we considered these options, the more they seemed too many to weigh and sort out. We decided to put off that decision for now and just plan on getting to Ghost Ranch.
The first of our town chores of the day was going to the post office to mail home our umbrellas. I didn't get much use out of mine, and we both figured they would be less necessary as we got into the mountains.
While we were at the post office, we ran into the Bennett family. I met them briefly on the PCT in Washington. Dad (Kidnapper), mom (Wildflower), four kids (Amazon, Honey Badger, Gancho, and Ladybug), and their dog (Muir), started hiking the CDT the same day I did, but this was the first time I had run into them.
After leaving the post office, I shopped at Family Dollar for the next four days on the trail while Zigzag kept an eye on our laundry at the laundromat.
Zigzag decided to wait until after lunch to do his shopping, so we next went to a nearby food truck. I knew I was tempting fate again, but I like good, authentic Mexican food. What I had eaten so far in Lordsburg and Silver City had been disappointing.
I was pleased to discover the food in Cuba was legit.
While we were eating, Doggone texted me to ask where he and Taxilady could deliver my bandana, which he found after I lost it outside of Grants. Within a few minutes, they met us at the food truck.
Getting my bandana back made me happy. I realize it can be easily replaced, but it was a gift to me from Just Awesome.
Doggone and Taxilady gave us a tour of their teardrop camper while they were there. This was the first time we had seen them while they were towing it.
They were now on their way to a campground near Chama before Doggone begins hiking the next section north from Cuba.
The rest of our afternoon was spent repackaging our food, resting, and chatting with other hikers. A few of them were people we hadn't seen in several days, including Tex and Top O'.
I also met two hikers I hadn't run across on the trail so far, Jacoby and OldTimer.
We were getting hungry, but before leaving to find dinner, No Keys took a picture of OldTimer, Jacoby, Zigzag, and me. Then we went down the road to El Bruno's Restaurante y Cantina. Now I was really throwing caution to the wind for eating more Mexican food, but I'm glad I did. This was probably the nicest restaurant in town, and the food was excellent.
It was a pleasure to spend some time with No Keys, OldTimer, Jacoby, and Zigzag, perhaps because we were so close in age. No Keys is a few years younger than the rest of us, but including him, our ages probably averaged about 65. I have come across several hikers on the AT and PCT who were in their 60s, but this was by far the largest group I had been with at one time.
I've attempted to learn how many people over the age of 60 have successfully completed an AT, PCT, or CDT thru-hike, as well as all three (the Triple Crown). That information isn't easy to come by. Based on numbers reported by the Appalachian Trail Conservancy, it appears that about four percent of all AT thru-hikers fit our demographic.
Perhaps you could conjecture that PCT and CDT percentages are around the same. There are probably arguments to be made that could raise or lower that percentage for Triple Crown finishers.
All I know is that everyone in our group tonight at the restaurant (and Doggone too if he had been with us) is more than capable of completing all of those trails. That's not to say we all will. Family concerns, injuries, and other medical problems might pull some of us off the trail.
Barring those issues, though, I think hikers our age are more likely to finish than most hikers. We've gone through the seasons of families and jobs and now have fewer of life's burdens. Our experience, resilience, and confidence have made us better prepared for success.
As we sat there together, a hiker named Nimblewill Nomad was attempting to become at 83 years old the oldest person to complete a thru-hike of the Appalachian Trail. Comparatively, the rest of us are still youngsters.
Who knows, maybe one of us will break his record. I'm certain we're all capable of it.