CDT Day 33 (NM – Cuba to Ghost Ranch)

San Pedro Parks Wilderness


  • CDT Miles: 635.9-668.7 (32.8)
  • Total Hiked: 576.8
  • Elevation Range: 7,400-10,570

After the big news last night hearing that the National Forests may close in New Mexico, I set out motivated to cover some big miles today. My plan in its basic sense is to zoom through before the closures go into place. According to the CDTC post I saw, Santa Fe National Forest will likely close Monday. This means I have today and tomorrow to get through, a distance of around 45 miles. Not too bad and if it were just that, but essentially everything north after that to the border (100 miles or so) is Carson National Forest, which might follow suit and make the same call to close as well.

So, I set out with all that in mind today. It would be a long, tough, and wonderfully scenic day. Be ready for onslaught of photos…

The morning was uphill, still climbing out from Cuba up to San Gregorio Reservoir. I passed what I assumed was Snoop’s tent. I took off at 5:30am, so understandably whoever it was remained inside sleeping. Some wonderful scenery right off the bat.

I know I know, my super green and blue hat is pretty awesome.

I saw my most favorite tree out here yet. It was a giant of a Ponderosa Pine, had some interesting sort of symmetry within it’s branches, and was basking in the morning sunlight.

The sun was also hitting the pretty meadows I started walking through.

I made it up to a parking area and trailhead to the reservoir around 7:00am. Such a pretty area that I bet is pretty popular with day hikers.

Big wide trail. There were till a huge number of trees down over the trail though. I started remembering that it was the same when I hiked the year before too. I think being in a designated wilderness area, it’s not as easy for groups to clear the trail, not being allowed to use chainsaws. Just a theory.

It was around 7:30am when I made it to the reservoir. I felt like I was taking the same pictures as I did a year ago! Pretty sure I have a post with pictures of that 2021 hike on the “Instabox” (as my old boss calls Instagram) where you’d find similar pictures as today. Super pretty area.

I filled up and filtered water from this inlet stream and it was my first icy cold meltwater stream water on the CDT! My fingers went temporarily numb, not comfortably numb though. Going forward, is a section of what I’d say is the worst tree “blow down” that I’ve ever experienced. I think I must have blocked it out of my memory, but it came back upon seeing it face to face. Giant, long, fully-branched trees that seem to have combined with others to form a mass of sideways forest blocking my path. But, you get through it.

I even had stream crossings today,

and trails running parallel to meltwater streams,

wetland plants,

and small cascades.

Lots of pics today! That was all before 8:30am 🙂 And the best was yet to come in my opinion. You folks that have followed my PCT trek might know that I have a thing for big open meadows and for high elevation traverses. A good chunk of the day was crusing through some high elevation meadows with classic meandering streams running through. Ah, just splendid. This was the start of that…

It came with a sacrifice though. To get to these areas, we early-season hikers had to deal with some melting snow and essentially streams running down the trail. At first, I tried to avoid getting my feet wet, but very soon I just went for it and walked straight through. It was inevitable.

as bad as this looks, it wasn’t near as tough as when traveling a year ago with Cheer and Snickers. Then, it was post-holing and water walking both. This time, post-holing was pretty much done, except for one time today when I fell through the snow and scraped my knee a tad. A taste of what’s to come ahead I’m sure!

Going through the meadows, I kept swiveling around searching for elk. Just looked like they should be there, but turns out, they were in this snowy, melty forest. Poor vid, but there’s an elk butt in there…

A lot of trees downed. Did I mention that already?

Made it to breakfast finally…

During my break, I made sure to take off my shoes and socks (I pretty much always do this) and once going again started with a dry pair. The wet socks get strapped to the back of my pack to dry. Good theory except it was a total of 3 minutes before I had to fully submerge my foot in a marshy section of trail ahead.

I found some prairie dogs, I imagine their distant relatives of the ones I observed when leaving Cuba yesterday.

My default way if thinking is to look out at the large-scale features… the mountains, forests, landscapes, etc… but when I do think to focus on the much smaller scale, I’m always amazed at the beauty there too…

Look fun to you?

I think it was a little after 11:00am that I reached the high point for the day, up around 10,500 feet. After that point it was nice downhill for many miles.

At one point I came across a group of four people and four horses working on trail clearance. They had a handsaw (looked like a Silky Katanaboy to me) and cutting through some of the downed logs. I thanked them profusely and after finding out they were with a group called Backcountry Horseman, my over on.

Another encounter came a bit after this, two ladies section hiking. The one was I’ll and apparently not doing well, so they were getting out at the next road. I asked if there was anything I could help with, but seemed confident they had things figured out.

Onward I went. Next, I met “Mud” at a stream crossing when having lunch, but that was pretty much it for my people interaction today.

The trees have eyes…

I normally don’t like to advertise the neat places I see. Using hashtags, geotagging and such can be detrimental to keeping places wild in my view. That being said, I’m letting y’all in on the secret. This wonderful section was all part of this Wilderness…

In the afternoon things started opening up. There was a pretty, colorful cliff on the horizon. Didn’t know it upon first viewage, but I’d be hiking up it at the very end of the day.

I made it to the end of the 30-mile section I’d done last year. Honestly, I didn’t know it at the time, but looking back that was a big step in my decision to attempt to thru-hike hike this trail. I joked about it at the time saying, 30 miles down, over 3,000 to go! But really, seeing Cheer and Snickers out here doing it again inspired me. And here I am, doing this big mile day, so this look is meant to express all that 🙂

As I started hiking up again, I saw this site to the east…

Going up.

End of the day, I filled up with water at a cow tank. I’ve become familiar with a lone cow wandering over to get a drink while I’m getting my water. This one stuck out to me oddly as been a happy cow. I just got the feeling it was enjoying life. Drinking, eating grass, pooping, doing a little skip. Otherwise, maybe the long day had got to me and I was losing it.

Super happy to find this nice spot around 7:30am. Tired, but feeling ok after my biggest day yet!

Album of the Day

“Recovery” – Eminem

Audiobook of the Day

Started “Origin” – Dan Brown

2 thoughts on “CDT Day 33 (NM – Cuba to Ghost Ranch)

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