Twig Adventures

Day 14: Horned Lizard Mountains

May 5th, 2019

Gila Alt. mm 101.1 – CDT mm 375

Distance in miles: 26


There were some intriguing sounds overnight. I heard a whip-poor-will, owls, coyotes, and some unidentified grunting coming from some beast. A cow, elk, deer…who knows? It’s also very cold once again, into the 30’s. I could lay in bed until it warms up some. How nice would it be to start hiking once the sun is already shining? But no, that’s not what thru-hiking this long of a trail is about. The early bird gets the miles. Besides, it’s the best feeling, after suffering for hours walking in the cold, when the first rays of sunlight finally hit. It’s magical.

I walked about 4 miles on the road to the top of the hill. This is where the 105 mile long Gila alternate route joins back to the CDT main route. After 5 days, I finally see a CDT marker again. I also meet Kevin, who was the unknown hurt hiker at Snow lake yesterday. He is just packing up and tells me about the awesome breakfast burrito the RV couple fed him. He is ahead of me because he hitched much of the dirt road. But he also remarks about how nice the road walking is. I’m thinking about my destroyed feet from walking all 20 some miles on the road and also my lack of burrito, so I just keep my mouth shut. I enjoy my dinner leftovers instead.

The CDT finally leaves the road for real trail and I spend the rest of the day going up and down through the rolling hills. It appears that most of this forest has been logged and there are several burn areas. It doesn’t have the feel of the lush forests just before and around the Gila. There are fewer birds and no streams…where is all the water?

I didn’t do a good job of researching water sources for today and find that the main few ones are all cow ponds with really muddy water. I have just what I started out with and wonder if that is enough to last the day. I come to the first pond and immediately dismiss it. The next is in another 6 miles and when I come to it, I don’t even bother to go down to check it. I still have about 1 liter and hope to make it 7 miles to a real tank.

The day gets a bit hot and it’s tough going up the steep hills. There are some views but mostly bland forest. I haven’t seen anyone since early in the morning. I amuse myself by admiring all the horned lizards. I see more than 10 today, so I name these mountains for them.

Near the end of the day, I spot a solitary elk cow. An hour later, a herd of about 20 thunders across the trail. There you go, finally some big mammals.

I catch up to Wraps coming down the last big hill. I met him at trail days. We are both low on water and aiming for the water tank just before HWY 12. I race down the mountains and stumble the last few miles towards the tank. My feet hurt so bad and the trail is so rocky, I am actually relieved that the last mile is on a dirt road.

I find clear water in the tank and down a liter. I am able to wash off all the dirt from my legs and feet in order to assess my rash and blisters. The rash is better but the 2 blisters are sore. As is my solution for everything, I smoother them with neosporin.

I set up nearby behind some trees, somewhat protected from the wind. It will die down as soon as the sun sets. Wraps gets to the tank but has to fight of a herd of cows that have just arrived, including a few bulls. I am glad I got water before them. It was another tough day but I survived. I hope to make it to the Davila Ranch rest stop tomorrow, more about that coming up.

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