I’m back!

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The last two years have been quite an adventure all on their own! Since hiking the Continental Divide trail I took on several field jobs, as well as one very unconventional and unexpected job. I moved from Texas to Montana and worked for a company in which my job necessitated that I travel through 37 States in the U.S. within only 7 months! Explored Montana and Idaho’s backcountry. Then, I moved to New Mexico to work in the beautiful Jemez Mountains, on a field job in which I was incredibly stoked, because it meant that I would be living out of my tent, once again, on-site at 9,000 feet at the base of the sacred Chacoma Peak. I lived out of my tent for around 2 and a 1/2 half months until the winter weather ended our season. I did this for two seasons. Then I worked a few field jobs based out of Silver City, New Mexico. After which, I hiked the Arizona Trail, made more amazing connections with amazing people, moved to Arizona for 3 months for yet another field job, moved back to New Mexico, bagged new peaks, and drew up more plans.

During this time I made new discoveries and insights to where I will be heading in the next coming months. I hope to be able to get back into updating this blog which I know is long over due. So hopefully I will be better and maintaining this journal with updated adventures of which I am many adventures behind. But perhaps I can re-trace some of those and transpose them here. I will try my best. Life is great when you can’t even keep up with your own adventures! I have to say that as nice as it is to share the experiences with others, they remain steadfast in my memory and in my heart, which is what counts the most. But nevertheless I will give it my best effort to update you from time to time. Meanwhile, I must go back to the drawing board.

Peaceful trails, everybody!

~ Wild Feather

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CDT Day 16: The Healing Gila

17.7 mi

Dear Gila,

Oh how happy I am to see you again. As I rest my traveled legs in your healing waters, I listen to your singing birds and think only in the moment. I know I will cross your winding river many times and before I leave you on this journey and you will have lent me your healing powers. Completed and totally I immerse myself in your deep-cut canyons and flowing river just as the ancients and wandering naturalists before me. In your wilderness I have discovered the beauty of solitude and the beauty of struggle. I know that if this journey takes me far it will be in part because of your sacred waters. Let us forever protect and honor you.

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CDT Day 15: From Sulking To Soaking

Still disappointed with my decision to take this route, I wake up anxious to get this highway walk over with. While packing up camp I spill my coffee… Great, it’s going to be a long day I tell myself. I am also very low on water and don’t know when I will be able to find water again, since I do not have any GPS waypoints for this route. I have only a liter left but around 17 miles of road walking to do. At least I know where I am going and I am not lost. Though that doesn’t make me feel any better. I can’t help but feel disappointed. I want so badly to be back in the backcountry.

Hoping to make the day go by faster, I walk steadily taking less breaks than normal. Around 3 to 4 miles into the road walk passersby begin to smile and wave to me and the positive vibes begin to pour over my foul mood. Though my emotions cycle throughout the day as I pay for my decision with every step.

So many times did I want to stop and ask for a ride but kept convincing myself, just two more miles. Along the way there are several scenic outlooks and I try to stop at each one. At one, I could see the Gila valley. The bright green foliage at its center obscures the river and I think about how much it looks like an oasis. At another overlook I could actually see the Gila River meandering though the valley. A beautiful sight, it brings tears to my eyes. I think to myself… I belong down there, but I am up here on this paved byway! and I continue my stupid walk.

Around 3-5 miles from the Gila Hot Springs where I had planned to camp for the night, I was DONE. My feet were taking a beating with every pounding step. I wanted to rest so badly so I found a shady juniper rest beneath. Pulling my Buff over my eyes, I rested for around fifteen or twenty minutes. My body thanked me.

As I rested and listened to the cars pass by, their sounds were a painful reminder of the few miles I had left to hike. I wasn’t there yet. And it was just one of those days when every mile felt like two. As I approached a bridge that crossed the Gila, I could smell a campfire from the Grapevine Campground below. What a pleasant idea to be lounging around a campfire, it smelled so nice. And just as I pass the campground, a red Jeep Renegade stops next to me and the driver asks “Are you thru-hiking?”  I tell her that I am and she smiles brightly. I ask for a ride to the Gila Hot Springs with which she happily replies “Of course!”. Her friend stepped out Of the passenger side to clear up some space for me in the backseat. After getting in, he kindly hands me a cold beer. Wow! I told them “I could cry. You just saved me a grueling last mile and a half.” 

After they drop me off at the hot springs I learn that she is also from El Paso! She tells me that she works for the Franklin State Park, I ask her what her name is  “Adrianna” she replies, and I realize that I know her! We had never actually met before but I remember her name from a hiking group back home! WOW! So neat! 

What an amazing coincidence! Thank you again, Adrianna and Jeremy? (Please correct me if I’ve mistaken your name.) for the ride to the Hot Springs! My  feet also thank you!

That evening I ran into a few other hikers I had met for the first time named AllGood, Bandit, Buttercup, Freefall, Greg In Wild and Bambi. Then ABC arrived around an hour later. After such a hard day it was nice to see a familiar face. After saying our Hello’s I returned to the hot springs and enjoyed a very long and peaceful soak.

Miles Hiked: 18.6

Total: 194

(WILL UPLOAD PHOTOS AS SOON AS I GET SERVICE, Most likely today 5/13)

CDT Day 14: An Alternate Mistake

Slept in for the first time while on the trail. Rarely do I get to feel the sunrise warm my tent before I start the day. As the day goes on, the diversity of the Gila wilderness continues to amaze me. In every direction the landscapes changes. During a lunch break at a trail junction I contemplate the thickening cloud cover. 

Soon the trail will join the canyons and meet the Gila River river. Do the clouds promise rain? Is there a storm brewing? It is hard to tell. At the moment it is cold and windy and I ponder about the trail conditions ahead. If it does rain the Gila River will swell and may make river crossings more challenging. I think back to my first experiences of fording the meandering Gila River a few years ago and remember how I enjoyed the experience. But today, the possibility of rain forces me to make a decision. Do I continue the trail northbound which meets the first set of River crossings? Or, do I take the five mile cutoff eastward and avoid the first set of potentially dangerous river crossings? 

The sky darkens as I weigh my options and ultimately decide to take the alternate route. As I begin walking eastbound I can tell that I am not fully committed but after about a mile of walking I feel it best to continue. The shoe prints of previous hikers begin to fade away and I am now truly alone. Though only 5 miles to the highway the route drags on as I transverse atop five or six ridges thick with over growth. Prickly rose-like plants scratch my legs and pull at my clothes. It is tiresome and the trail keeps fading in and out and I realize I’ve added around 2,000 feet of elevation to the otherwise descending trek. Finally I reach the highway and I am now moving northbound again. A long ravine follows the highway making difficult to find a decent campsite and I hear gunshots in the direction I need to be traveling. What a mess I think to myself.

After around 3 miles or so I find a decent place to camp, pitch my tent I wonder What have I got myself into? What will tomorrow bring? I go sleep frustrated and disappointed awaiting the long highway hike in the morning. 

Miles Hiked: 14

CDT Day 13: Into The Gila

I am in a very comfy bed but wake up at 6:30 AM. I wish I could sleep in but my body is ready to wake up. I had decided yesterday that I would leave late morning but that there was no rush. While having coffee I am delighted to feel my knee is doing so much better! My friend, Van had returned last night and had offered to drive me to the post office to see if they found my package but they did not. I went to sleep too late last night and I am feeling it. We swing by a small restaurant and eat a breakfast burrito and chat a bit more. Though tired, I feel I need to be back on the trail. At around 10:30, Van drives me to the forest boundary.  

Since it was a late start I plan on doing only 8-10 miles today. I am very happy to be back in the Gila but feel a bit strange. For some reason, I am feeling very cautious and apprehensive walking along the forest road into the Gila and I don’t understand why. The Gila is a very special place to me; it is where I first experienced  wilderness backpacking and it is also the birthplace of wilderness conservation, two aspects very important to me. But why am I feeling so apprehensive? I don’t know…

After a few miles into the trail I spot several fresh mountain lion tracks. Awesome! I know they are new because they are covering the shoe prints I have been seeing of previous hikers. So happy to be in the wilderness again. After a while I reach Bear Creek and stop to soak my feet. It is the first time I have been able to soak my feet in naturally flowing water on the trail. It’s cold but feels great! For the rest of the day I continue to cross several small creeks and springs and feel so fortunate that the Gila provides that which is so important, our life force: water. This means I only have to carry around a liter or two of water at a time. As the day continues the grandness of the Gila begins to reveal itself as the landscape opens up to the west. The views are amazing. One very special area opens up over beautiful red rock where several statuesque rock formations tower about. Some of which take on an appearance of meditating beings. Others stand tall seemingly among a crowd of other beings. A very special place indeed. 

A few hikers pass me just as I reach a semi-large stream where I top off my water. They do the same, but we don’t really chat. One guy from their group says to me “Have fun!” as I pass them by. I set up camp no more than a quarter mile from the stream and call it a day. And it is quite an awesome campsite. 

Miles Hiked: 12.5

Total: 161.5






CDT Day 11 & 12: Healing Time in Silver City

My time in Silver City has been very restful. I’ve waken up in a cozy bed, taken long baths and have caught up on some journaling. My knee is still a bit swollen and so I continue to doctor it. It’s not painful but I know I need to care for it before I move on. In the mornings I make some coffee and breakfast and finish my coffee while in bed, to try to maximize the time spent elevating my leg/knee. I spend most of the morning napping, snacking and icing my knee. In the late afternoon I go out for a walk and pick up anything I might need. 

I spend the second morning very much the same way. Getting up to make coffee and breakfast and go back to the bed to elevate and ice my knee and nap. 

In the late afternoon I went to post office to pick up my resupply and learned that they could not find, or had lost my package. No big deal. Fortunately there are plenty of places to resupply in Silver City. So I went to the local co-op grocery downtown and resupplied there. 

I texted ABC yesterday to see where he might be and he said he was resting in Silver City. So we planned to meet up at the local restaurant/pub for dinner to catch up. It was interesting to discuss our experiences hiking from Lordsburg. I hiked alone the entire stretch and did not see another hiker. ABC had apparently taken a different route all-together. 

I decided that I would get back on the trail in the late morning.


CDT Day 10: From Sandy Canyons to Friendly Faces in Silver City

Miles Hiked: 14.5

Total: 149

I pack up and start hiking around 7:45 AM. I am about 26 miles from Silver City and I really, really want to be there already. Though my knees are feeling better today, I know my body needs to rest. The first water source is around 9 miles from where I camped. I have around 2 L of water so I am not worried. And I am happy to know that the trail will be losing elevation today. 

At around noon-time I reach road crossing near a wooden fence marked with a CDT trail marker. There is a shady spot nearby where I decide to take off my shoes and take a short rest. A few moments later an SUV drives through the dirt road and startles me! It caught me offguard as I have not seen or heard any cars or people in the last 3 1/2 days. 

While back in Lordsburg, a CDTC volunteer made me aware of a confusing intersection in the trail near mile 141 which I will be approaching soon. Apparently this section of trail is not yet completed and the trail markers have lead hikers into a 5 mile detour. When I reach the intersection I follow a hilly dirt road to a swinging gate that leads me into a sandy canyon. Several sage plants are scattered about the canyon. I can smell them as I pass through, which I find very uplifting. 

After around a mile and a half, the canyon makes a sharp bend to the left. But to the right of the bend is a narrow opening and I can see a sign: Saddle Rock Riparian Restoration Area. Sounds like a neat place for a field biologist to explore! A very thin, snake-like creek is flowing from the area. It the first time I see naturally flowing, crystal clear water on the trail. It is so peaceful and I am tempted to soak my feet in the water. But, looking to the sky I notice clouds are beginning to form. I do not want to be caught in a canyon if it rains so I decide it is best that I continue. 

It is hot and humid and a bit difficult to walk in the sand. But this canyon is gorgeous! It is called Saddle Rock Canyon. I marvel at the multi-colored boulders and rock formations that make up the canyon walls and feel so privileged to be able to be hiking through it. Concerned with the possibility of rain, I keep an eye on the clouds which have grown larger and darker. I hasten my pace. I begin to see more and more cows. The canyon appears to be opening up. I am now just a couple miles from the forest road.

As I am passing another large rock formation I hear a loud rattle to my far left. It is a Black-tailed Rattlesnake. The first snake I have seen on the trail so far. Of course I take photos and a short video at a safe distance. He isn’t very happy and so I say “Your canyon is very beautiful. It’s okay, I’m leaving now.” I know, I know. But I warned you. I talk to animals.

As soon as I reach the dirt road I see a large house and begin to see several ‘no trespassing’ signs. This makes me a bit nervous and so I hurry my way pass the property. Soon after I can see Highway 180 which leads into Silver City! Wooh!!

A friend of mine who lives in Silver City had offered to pick me up from the highway when I arrived. So after hiking a few miles on the highway I called my friend and he picked me within 20 minutes or so. It was so neat to see a familiar and friendly face! He tells me that he will be leaving town tomorrow for a field project but graciously offers me his house and rest up for as long as I needed while in Silver City. He also tells me that another friend of mine, named Mike, is in town working on a project. I have work with both of them on volunteer field projects in the past so I am so delighted to be able to meet up with both of them. 

He drops me off at the house and jokingly [not so jokingly] tells me that I need a bath. And that he hopes I don’t clog the drain. Hahaha. I agree! He tells me that he needs to stop by his office but will pick me up later to treat me to beer and dinner. So sweet! After a bath, he swings by picks me up and we head over to a local pub/restaurant where we will be meeting my other friend. He doesn’t tell Mike that I am in town and so it was a nice surprise for both of us when we meet at the restaurant. I order fish and chips which were AWESOME! It was such a great time and such a nice surprise to be able to meet up with up with familiar friends and meet some wonderful new people. I tell my friend that I doubt I will experience this kind of hospitality again on the trail. And he feels honored. I am very blessed. Thank you my friend! I am forever grateful!