Dyer and Riches: CDT Thru-Hikers

Mount Taylor

June 1, 2000—Day 28, 464 miles, Cuba, New Mexico —You meet all kinds of folks out here. We are currently hiking with a boy from Tennessee, a real live hog raising, hillbilly southern boy who is also heading north to Canada. They call him"Coyote Proof" on the trail. We just call him "Seven Grain." He's got himself some kind of weird seven grain secret formula that he cooks for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Apparently this brew has been handed down through Seven Grain's moonshine-running, banjo-playing family tree. Something his great-great-grandmamma used to feed the hogs, we're guessing.

Anyway, old Seven Grain caught up to us in Grants. The boy's been making good time, so we are letting him hike with us for a while. We're trying to find out what's in that grain mix, but he ain't giving much away. We're going to have to let him hang around a little longer.

Our first day out of Grants was grueling, for poor old Milky at least. His body was rebelling against something (probably hard work), and he was vomiting and feverish all day. We were forced to abandon him at the Ranger Station and forge ahead. We had to meet Tom Bombacci that night in order to get some information about water availability on the flanks of Mount Taylor. The next morning Milky caught up with us. The boy had come good, but it was a couple of days before the British bulldog was back to his usual self. At least the trail was nice and quiet without his babbling.

We hiked over our first substantial mountain in this section. Mount Taylor, at 11,301 feet, offered tremendous views of the El Malpais and the mountains of the Gila far in the distance. Surrounded by spruce and patches of snow, Seven Grain and I ate a hearty breakfast on the peak, while Milky managed to eat (and hold down) his first solid food for 2 days. He even managed a smile despite still looking a little green around the gills. Its amazing what a mountaintop view can do for the spirits!

The land has greened up considerably since Grants, still dry but not as dry as southern New Mexico. In spite of this water finding is still a challenge. South of Cuba, we had a long 30 mile stretch with no water, but a group of friendly cyclists pedaling the Divide provided us with an unexpected water gift.

The number of whinging poms in the party doubles this week when we are joined by Mark Ayre, a mate of Milky's from Northampton, England. Next report from Cumbres Pass, Colorado!


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