CDT 2021: Day 36, Zero Day in Española

Slow down fast

Zigzag sits in an Española laundromat

As I described before, Zigzag and I had several options for resupplying. Of course, one option I didn't mention would be to stay on the CDT and carry enough food to get to Chama without a stop. That would require walking 150 miles and carrying about eight days of food, which was not our idea of fun.

We resolved that problem by going to Española, but this added a complication we hadn't yet worked out. To get there, we followed the Ghost Ranch Alternate. When we get back on the trail, we will have to follow it through the 21,000-acre facility.

Ghost Ranch is closed on Mondays and Tuesdays as part of their COVID-19 precautions, and a ten-dollar permit is required for hikers when the ranch is open.

DateTuesday, May 18, 2021
WeatherRain showers, the gradually clearing; temperatures from the upper-40s to around 60
Today's Miles0.0
Trip Miles543.4

Today was a Tuesday. Walking through without permission didn't seem ethical, but we were unsure how else we could return to the trail.

This dilemma turned out to be a case of overthinking the problem. It wasn't until this morning that I realized the bus wouldn't drop us off until nearly 7:00 tonight. There was no point in entering Ghost Ranch that late. We should be able to find a spot to camp by the road tonight and enter Ghost Ranch tomorrow.

Zigzag and I went online and paid for day hiker permits, which will cover us for walking through it first thing tomorrow morning.

A wet sidewalk in Española

We took our time this morning because there was plenty to spare, and used all we had until checkout time.

After picking up breakfast next door at Sonic, we returned to our room to finish cleaning and drying our gear from yesterday's downpour. Then we walked a couple of blocks down the street to a laundromat.

When we finished our laundry, we returned to the motel to pack and check out. A light rain began to fall as we walked to a bus stop for our trip to Walmart.

Buying donuts at Lovin’ Oven Bakery

We could have picked up the bus about a quarter-mile from the motel, but getting to Walmart would have required transferring to another bus. The rain wasn't bothersome, so we elected to walk farther to a different stop and pick up a bus on a direct route to the store.

This choice offered an unexpected benefit of a second breakfast. The bus stop was near Lovin’ Oven Bakery, and we had time to buy donuts and coffee before the bus arrived.

Bags of groceries

Rain was falling harder by the time we boarded the bus and was still falling when we finished shopping. We used the entryway near vending machines to sort our food.

That is a step that's always necessary after shopping on a thru-hike. We remove all unnecessary packaging and repackage where needed to reduce our pack weight.

Zigzag and I next walked across Walmart's parking lot to Chili’s for lunch. The service was slow, probably because of staffing issues that many businesses are experiencing now. We didn’t mind, though, because we still had several hours before we needed to get on the bus to Ghost Ranch.

In fact, we were at Chili's so long, we began to get bored. The rain had stopped by now, so we went to Starbucks next door for coffee and a change of scenery.

Riding the bus back to Ghost Ranch

When it was time to leave, we boarded a bus to take us back to the transit center. This was where we caught the bus to Ghost Ranch. All of these rides were free. Española's bus service was perfect for our needs, with routes to where we needed to go.

The only downside was the wait for returning to Ghost Ranch. We could have gotten there earlier if a regular mid-day run had not been eliminated because of COVID-19.

KIV Peace Corps Trail

Our stop at the entrance of Ghost Ranch yesterday gave us a good idea we could find a spot to pitch our tents across the road. I also recalled that Just Awesome mentioned he did that when he was here a few days ago.

We found a marked trail when we got there, so we decided it must be either public land or the owners were okay with hikers on it. The trail was constructed two years ago by the Rocky Mountain Youth Corps, with funding from members of a Peace Corps team that trained at Ghost Ranch before starting their mission in South Korea.

cholla cactus

There were a lot of cacti on this land, especially cholla cactus. That made us wary as we looked for a place to pitch our tents. We also wanted to be out of sight of the highway.

Tarptent Aeon Li

We found a place that provided some protection in trees. Although it was close to the highway, it was suitable for what we needed.

We weren't far from the entrance of Ghost Ranch. It won't open until 9 a.m. tomorrow, however, so there won't be any need to get an early start.

That's helpful because we're still trying to slow down and allow the snow in Colorado more time to melt. Our schedule today was also good for that, but I doubt we'll be able to maintain a slower pace. Chances are, the distance between water sources will require us to walk farther than we want each day to Chama. Either way, it looks certain we'll find a lot of snow when we get there.

Oil wars, water wars, TV propaganda whores
Fire alarm met with snores, no one gets what' gone before
Slow down fast

Flag wave, hammer slave, gonna be a close shave
Stay brave, jump the grave, got to save what we can save
Slow down fast


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