Dyer and Riches: CDT Thru-Hikers

El Malpais

May 25, 2000—Day 21, 349 miles, Grants, New Mexico —We are resting up in the cheapest motel on Route 66 and are halfway through a tour of the many all-you-can-eat restaurants in Grants. Mental preparation for the traverse of Mount Taylor, which looms outside our window, has involved watching inane daytime talk shows. Keen to get back on the trail.

The route north of Pie Town turned out not to be the dragon we expected. We found windmills every 10 miles or so up to the El Malpais Conservation Area, and then used the water sources described by Allen Stibora to reach Grants. The El Malpais lava landscape looked completely different to anything I've ever seen before (Although the volcanic rocks found on the perimeter of the lava flow areas reminded me of home. Our farm is located in an area whose landscape was also formed by volcanic activity—Darryl). The walking has been hard this section, and we now have a few more aches to accompany the sore feet.

A day out of Pie Town we were awakened by a strange sound. We thought it was an injured animal, until we heard"somebody help me". Scared, and worried what we would find, we scrambled into our clothes and followed the cries.

We discovered a distressed young woman, holding a white puppy. She told us she had spent the last 18 hours lost after her dog had run off into the scrub. Tire tracks further up the road showed where here frantic husband had searched after she disappeared. We gave her the last of our water and hiked to the crest of the road, waiting for traffic. A couple of hours later, she spotted a familiar truck in the distance, and she was relieved to be reunited with her husband. The end of a scary situation we hope we don't ever find ourselves in.


Sign up to Away's Travel Insider

Preview newsletter »