Sunday May 1st, 2022, 0540-1920
Near Charlie Moore Mountain to Mineral Creek, EABO mm 493.5, GET Seg 20 mm 5.5 (6.5 miles to end Seg 7 plus 10 miles to Alma plus 5.5 miles to campsite)
My cowboy camp was fantastic. It wasn’t too cold, no bugs, no weird noises…just wonderful star gazing. It made packing up very easy as well. We left earlier than usual because we were loosing an hour by walking across the border into New Mexico (commence DST). The Alma cafe closed at 3 pm and we didn’t want to miss out on a hot meal (or 2). But we still had to walk 16 long miles to get there.
The first 3 miles were pretty tough. It was more overgrown and rocky tread. The trail wove in and out of every ravine along the fluted outline of the mountains. Branches and twigs grabbed at me every step of the way, with some blowdowns thrown in for good measure. I was so glad that we stopped where we did the night before because it was the best camping for miles.
We made it to some jeep track for another 5 miles, which was still rocky and rough but at least not as narrow. This brought us to the AZ\NM border and our official completion of the MRT. It was marked by a barbed wire fence and 2 cow troughs…one for the AZ cows and one for the NM ones, lest they drink from the same trough and share their bovine diseases.
To me, this finish line was completely uninspired. We had another 10 miles of road walking to get to the nearest “town”…one that offered no public transportation or even celebratory beers! Having completed Blisterfree’s GET route the year prior, I knew of a cool little ghost town by the name of Mogollon, in the Mogollon mountains. There was most likely still no beer and definitely no transportation from Mogollon, but picture the Camino de Santiago without a finish in Santiago! Can you even imagine? Without question, we would complete our pilgrimage to Mogollon in order to complete the Mogollon Rim Trail. I may start a petition on Change.org to get this reroute effected. What’s a few more miles anyway?
Unfortunately it was too far to Mogollon to arrive on the same day as our border finish, so our plan was to hang out at the Alma grill and general store for awhile, then head up one of my favorite canyons for a great night on the creek. We’d save our Mogollon visit for the next morning. We walked a few more miles on the jeep track, then rejoining the GET route on a well graded forest road. The road walk dragged on far too long. I busied myself with phone calls to relatives. I would have gladly hitched (having already walked it once before), but not one vehicle passed us. This had been the case a year before. Sunflower Mesa truly is a desolate place.
The Alma grill had not changed one bit since our last visit. I recognized the same staff and possibly some of the same patrons, as well as the same Trump 2020 banners all around. What did seem to change was everyone’s recognition of us as hikers. Seemingly a fair amount of GET hikers had already been through, even if we were officially the first MRT hikers on the block. Everyone was asking about our hike…we felt like celebrities…almost. We ordered large hot meals and collected our resupply boxes. We’d planned ahead, not to just walk to Mogollon, but to keep going all the way to Silver City, where we could clean up and find transportation back to Phoenix. Perhaps most importantly, Silver City had a brewery. So it was another 5 or 6 days of walking for us…soon to be called the Silver City Spur of the MRT…or something like that.
Once it had cooled down a bit in the late afternoon, we left the store and proceeded 5 miles along a dirt road towards Mineral Creek Canyon. I would have loved to hitch this section as well, but for the lack of any traffic, per usual. One lady drove by near the end, but I didn’t even bother to stick my thumb out. We made it this far connecting footsteps, might as well keep going. Just in time for bedtime, we reached the beautiful canyon. My heart was light, with more days of fun hiking to look forward to. We settled in the first flat spots we came to, under the loving embrace of a sycamore. How I’d grown to admire these fantastical trees, with their marbled skin, large and vibrant green leaves, and crazy weird shapes and sizes. Many have wierwood faces and I’m sure they all have secrets to tell, if one can only listen. Laying flat against the earth underneath one all night, you can certainly hear it whispering.