Quickie Lessons Learned In New Mexico
The Gila 100 is officially over, though I still encourage you to continue donating at tinyhandsinternational.org/donate! This expedition forced me into another extremely steep learning curve, especially since it was my first ever solo expedition. I'll let you know more exciting details on the journey, a forest ranger's input on the difficulty of the Gila, and my next expedition (that's right, already decided, a 18 hour drive is a lot of time to think up adventures!).
Here are just a few things that I learned.
- "River" is more of a suggestion in New Mexico. It usually means something along the lines of 'water was once in this now bone dry ditch.'
- Law enforcement is almost non-existent around the Gila. Instead, the ranchers make the rules. They reserve the right to shoot you, run you over with a pickup truck and horse trailer, or invite you in for dinner. Don't cross them...
- People are extremely friendly! I felt welcome everywhere I went (besides the wilderness that it).
- There are wolves, yes, real, large wolves.
- There are cougars, yes, real, hungry cougars.
- There are bears, yes, real, not-so-yogi bears.
- Yukon packs are stupid. Don't use one. If you don't know what a yukon pack is, keep it that way.
- A coffee can can (yup, I just did that) easily be used as a "snow melting vessel supreme-o 5000" as I called it.
- When looking for wood to sustain your fire throughout the night, look for resinous balls of wood on standing dead trees. They're hard to get off, but they're well worth it!
- An extra pair of socks and a small dry-bag can make an outstanding sleeping bootie.
- The gas station in Socorro has gloves for $2.99
- There are canyons in the Gila that no white man has ever seen (according to one of the rangers).
- "Road" kind of like "River" is more of a suggestion.
- During the first portion of my hike, I was likely the first person to have hiked the trails in the last 12 months.
- I was never afraid or nervous about being alone in the woods
- When something makes a spooky noise in the darkness of night, instead of trembling in fear like in the movies, I'm known to say "could you keep it down?" This is especially true with whiny coatis.
- Forest fires often destroy trail systems.
- Temperatures tend to change 10 degrees every 5 minutes in the Gila.
- There is a mexican radio station that can be reached virtually anywhere in the Gila, no matter how remote you are.
- In southern New Mexico, you know it's time to get gas when you see a gas station. You need to fill the tank literally every time you see a gas station, because the nearest station could easily be 100 miles away.
- A mailbox in the middle of nowhere is often considered a town, considering it's been in the same place long enough, and has a minimum of one resident.
- The Gila has been protected longer than any other wilderness in the US, therefore, it remains largely unchanged be the claw and crush of civilization.
- I'm really not crazy about being away from my fiancee Sydney for too long
I could honestly go on and on with new things that I've learned. I'll be blowing up this blog with new info on the journey and journeys to come, very soon. For now, I'd like to say thank you. Thank you for sticking it out with me once again, and thank you for your unending support! If anyone has any specific questions about my trip, or well, basically anything to do with my blog, feel free to hit me up at firstname.lastname@example.org