CDT Day 15 (NM – Doc’s to Pie Town)

To Stay or Go, Say Yes or No?


  • Gila River Alt. Mile: 39.6-42.6 (3 miles)
  • Gila River High Route Mile: 0-0.7
  • Total Hiked: 212.6 miles
  • Elevation Range: 5,590-5,680

“Once again, I remembered one of the greatest lessons of a thru-hike: the restoration of faith in the goodness of humanity.” – Heather “Anish” Anderson in her book, Thirst

It was nice to be able to wake up whenever (which I guess is always the case out here to an extent) and not get going right away. That being said, I was still up around 6:15am. After getting on my warm clothes, I walked down to the pavilion where WiFi was best (still not great) and made some instant coffee. I had just enough of a connection to upload some photos to the website..

Green Mountain Girrl and Channy joined after a while and Just Mary was getting her stuff together to get on trail again. It was a pleasant morning chatting with these folks. Even figured out a connection with Channy, seems we have a mutual friend. I ended up staying and making some oatmeal and another cup of coffee too.

Eventually, I packed my tent up and took a shower. I didn’t end up doing laundry, so as a makeshift way of washing my clothes, brought them in the shower so with me. Only issue was it wasn’t all that warm yet when I air dried afterwards.

Around 11am, I made the walk across the road back to Doc Campbells Post and was super pumped to discover that my new socks from Darn Tough showed up! Just in time.

Now, I could relax, go through my resupply box, and lounge on the patio outside of Doc’s. New hikers arrived, some even came and went while I was hanging, and some of the folks I’ve been around from earlier on showed up too. Quite a bit of them actually… Fix It, T-Bone, End Game, Gump and Mooch (aka Libby), Marmot, Cutie, Rockie, and Special K. I like to include all the names for y’all to get a kick out of. Plus, I’m trying to write down all the names of folks I meet along the way.

I had a very relaxing day and loved chatting it up with folks out on the picnic tables. I got to hear stories of the last couple days and was struck by hearing at least 3 tales of hikers having issues with the river crossings. I felt pretty comfortable yesterday and it made me realize probably too comfortable. It’s easy to fall into a hole or step on a slippery boulder or get stuck in a super suctiony muddy section, so now is as good as any to remind myself the wise words of my old professor, the imposter Alastor Moody (aka Barry Crouch Jr.), “Constant Vigilance!”

Here’s the new folks setting up their tents in the yard of Doc Campbells.

And my nutrition for the day. Power banana, Gatorade, and homemade coffee-flavored ice cream. Hairy leg shown for scale.

You may be thinking, Stevie, weren’t you planning to hike on today? Hikers kept asking me that since I kept hanging around. Well, after finding more and more reasons to delay (including sewing the button on my shirt), I finally pulled myself away for a not so classic 3:47pm start. I left with a plan that involved seeing Gila Cliff Dwellings National Monument, taking the High Route (Orange line) for a bit, then the Little Bear Canyon Trail (Blue line), and camping near the bank of the Gila. Things didn’t go as planned.

It was a road walk the whole way to the Cliff Dwellings. Probably the prettiest one yet though.

Upon arrival, I discovered that the trail was closed. It was only open from 9am to 4pm. I was quite frustrated with myself and am ashamed to admit that I misdirected these frustrations a tad towards the park ranger I talked to. I was agitated with him for my stupidity in not researching, but after a bit, came around and smoothed things over with him when I understood that it’s an archaeological site and they do in fact have a solid reason to have specific hours for the trail.

I then was torn with the struggle of deciding whether to just turn around and keep hiking (what I was inclined to do) or put a pause on things and wait til tomorrow, sleep in, and then go see the park. I still hadn’t made up my mind as I walked away. There’s a free campground nearby and as I walked to it my mind went back and forth. It may seem like an easy choice, of course, hang around and see this unique and incredible monument. But, there’s always some pressure to keep things moving on these long trails. Plus, this next stretch is a big one, definitely our biggest yet at around 130 miles, and so there’s the factor of having enough food to last that long.

Ultimately, I said whatevs, knowing I’d make the big miles later on. I wanted to see this place because it looks fascinating. And so, I went and set up my tent. Pretty soon, a hiker I met at Doc’s named Wardrobe arrived. I explained the hours to her. She thought they were opening at 8am in the morning, but was still planning to see either way as well.

As I was getting ready for dinner, I ended up meeting a couple that had set up their camper van in the parking lot and we’re lounging in their lawn chairs, enjoying some snacks and drinks. Well, just like that, my evening changed and I ended up sitting down with these folks for an hour or more. They insisted I sit in their chair and gave me a Heineken, because it’s good beer from Holland. They, in fact, are immigrants from the Netherlands to Vancouver, BC and are touring around the U.S. for a few months. We laughed a lot, shared stories, and had great conversation about Dutch things, life on the trail, their van travels, and other random things throughout. Wardrobe joined as well and we both were treated to fresh ripe pineapple. It’s unexpected moments like these that make thru-hiking so great.

After saying goodnight to Jan and Olette (please forgive my likely wrong spelling!), Wardrobe and I went back to our tenting spot and had dinner. This too was nice, getting to know her and her story a bit.

Looking forward to seeing the Cliff Dwellings and hiking onward tomorrow!

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