I wake up in a pretty good mood because we've slept at an empty campground of sorts and there happens to be a privy there. It doesn't smell bad and it's fully stocked with toilet paper. So I feel like we've really found luxury. That is, until we notice that neither of our sawyer water filters are functioning correctly. Either they're clogged up from the cow water or they froze overnight.
Luckily we're right next to a paved road. And luckily I have an extra filter in our bounce bucket, sitting at the post office just 20 miles away. It only takes 45 minutes for the first car to show up going the right direction. But he stops right away and takes us all the way to Winston. We enjoy conversation with Bo, the driver, who has taken some days off to just camp and run through the mountains.
Winston is probably the most charming of trail towns, as New Mexico goes. There is one store and a post office. Nothing else. The old lady at the post office forwards our bucket for free once we've gotten what we need out of it and the cashier woman tells me how to get cell reception.
"There's a post out there. If you walk about five steps away from it there's a black rock. Face south." And stick one leg in the air and tilt your head slightly to the left. "That's where you'll find service." She says.
The hitch back is an easy one and we're back on the trail by noon. It's a well-graded and easy-to-follow path through a pine forest. It feels like such a treat until I get used to it. Then I put headphones in and just cruise for most of the afternoon. For a moment I forget where I am. I could be anywhere, just one foot after the other, making miles.
The evening finds us walking a forest road and turning off into another canyon where we set up camp just as the sun goes down. My stove glows blue and pink against the night as I boil water for dinner. I fall asleep happy, feeling like I've found my hiker-self again.
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