CDT Days 28-31: The End of New Mexico

The final days in the state, and New Mexico really turned up the scenery. As we left Ghost Ranch we climbed out of the desert for good, into the high altitude mountains as we moved closer and closer to Colorado. Our bodies have been feeling good, our spirits have been high, and we’ve officially completed our first state!

Day 28: 28 Miles

It was a beautiful day today. We began this morning in a desert canyon of red rock, and climbed steadily. We climbed up out of the canyon and climbed some more, up over 9,000 feet elevation. We went from cactus and sagebrush to aspen, grassy meadows and wildflowers. We spent much of the day on trails, some of which seem recently built. Other sections are in sore need of some maintenance, with quite a lot of deadfall. A mile or so felt like an obstacle course. It doesn’t look like a fire, so we wonder what has killed so many trees. In the afternoon we followed a creek higher still, and are camped at the edge of a meadow at 10,500. We ate dinner while watching several elk in the meadow. We’re just about 60 miles from the end of New Mexico. Life is good.

Day 29: 29 Miles

The beautiful high altitude scenery continued today. It was cold this morning, but the sun warmed us up pretty quickly. We descended down to around 8,500 feet before climbing back up over 10,000 again in the afternoon. It was cloudy and we got a few raindrops, but nothing sustained. We saw herds of elk and saw many birds and chipmunks today. We crossed meadows of grass, dotted with yellow and purple flowers. We crossed creeks and streams. We walked under pine and aspen. Tonight we are camped at the edge of another meadow, huddled under the trees to avoid condensation in the tent with this cool night air. The thrushes sing to us from the trees and the coyotes howl in the distance as the sun sets.

Day 30: 26 Miles

Our last full day in New Mexico sure was beautiful. We spent most of it over 10,000 feet, climbing ridges, passing lakes, and crossing meadows. We had great views of the surrounding mountains as we moved in and out of the trees. We took frequent breaks to stop and enjoy the scenery. The final few miles to the border are near 11,000 feet, and the trail is steep and windy. We stopped to camp at what looks like the last flat ground, plus there is tree cover to guard us from the wind. We’re at 10,800 feet and less than 6 miles from Colorado.

Day 31: 8.5 Miles

Despite the altitude, it was a warmer morning than the last few. We had a short climb over 11,000 feet and an easy few miles to the Colorado border. We stepped over a broken barbed wire fence and out of New Mexico. We had great views for the final miles to Cumbres Pass, where we hitched a ride into Chama, New Mexico, the closest town. We got a motel room with a kitchenette to take advantage of a full day off tomorrow! It will be our first true zero day of the trail.