Total Miles: 2166.3
Coming down the stairs from our room at the Toaster House, I could smell the coffee that I hadn't even heard Jefferson make while we were packing up. We stood in the kitchen enjoying a cup or two while admiring the convenience of it. No fuel to pour, no pot to fill with water, and nothing to pack up afterwards.
We stepped outside for Jefferson to take an obligatory photo and when the door opened, the tiniest of the neighborhood cats was there to greet us. Disappointed that we had nothing in our hands to feed him, he shuffled away as we shouldered our packs and returned once more to the road.
We fell into the same groove of the past several days, all spent on a route that had abandoned trail for road. Of the 110 miles since we stepped foot onto pavement north of Grants, all but a handful have been on road, either paved, dirt, gravel, or some hybrid of sandy and dusty. With each passing truck, a rooster tail of dust enveloped us. What few breaks we took throughout the day were in whatever shade we could find along the road, under small trees whose limbs would issue a dust cloud of their own when jostled.
A far better stop was our lunch break at Davila Ranch, a newly built shelter specifically for CDT hikers with water, electricity and even WiFi and a refrigerator. An ice cold coke from the fridge capped off the luxuries.
The gift of road walking—if there is one—is often not in the scenery that trickles past, but in the gratitude it builds within you for the trail that does exist. Exposed to the sun and wind, sometimes able to see your future far down the road ahead, walking on any road for hours day after day gets old. The best coping mechanism? Turning that struggle into appreciation, which—as you might have guessed—turns out to be good practice no matter the circumstance.
Appreciation for not having to take down a tent this morning. For the ease of packing up from the edge of an actual mattress. For the coffee that we didn't have to make ourselves. For the adorable kitten that saw us off. For the speed that walking on a road allows for. For the cold Coke at lunch time. For the roads that are not paved in wobbly, billiard ball-size volcanic rock. For the ease of gathering water from a gushing roadside spigot. For the dappled shade when the road finally entered a forest of trees. For a warm dinner of Pad Thai. For our bed of pine needles beneath the Ponderosa.
Maybe this road walking isn't so bad after all...maybe.