Day 38: 602 to 613 (Ghost Ranch)

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Sleeping by the side of the road is never a recipe for a peaceful, settled night, but when you are tucked deep into a nest of Juniper trees you begin to slip away from even your own existence. Our tent fit perfectly among the branches and throughout the night passing headlights did not get the chance to flood into the silvery walls. We had ten miles into Ghost Ranch and a warm, sunny day. Following a dirt road, we listened to a new audiobook, The Soul of an Octopus by Sy Montgomery, and lost ourselves in each step and each spoken word. We dove into the lives octopuses in a captivity and their mysterious oceanic world. Questions of their consciousness and perception of life mentioned by the author trekked through our own brains as the sun grew even higher over the Rio Chama.

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A blue blaze stood out to us on a post leading to a cross country trail. Fortunately, we checked our maps and took the lightly worn path away from the road. We were headed into the heart of the acrylic canyons that appear in Georgia O'Keefe's work and in the dreams of those that yearn for the magics of the desert.

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Bushing whacking along what seemed to be a nature trail that once was, we crossed a rickety suspension bridge missing boards of wood here and there. A group of guests on horse back could be seen in the distance. We were getting close to the ranch and even closer to a big lunch. Single story adobe buildings began appearing around us and people, lots and lots of people.  Us in our packs and days of old dirt covered our clothing. Everyone else dressed for their weekend at the ranch, chatting quietly together as their name tags dangled from their necks. We ran into the Welcome Center, where we were helped out by the friendliest employee who grab us our resupply boxes. As we repacked our bags with our new supply of food and micro-spikes, we drew signs for our hitch into Santa Fe. We bought a meal ticket for the lunch buffet, and then we feasted.

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It was now time to hitch to Santa Fe. The boys ahead of us had an easy hitch from an employee of the ranch and then a bus ride from Espanola into town the previous day. We started walking down the dirt rode to the main highway, without much luck at first. Throwing up our thumbs each time a car came rumbling down the drive, we slowly lowered them as the cars continued past. Finally, a car pulled over in front of us. We ran up to the car and hoped in. We were greeted by a very friendly couple who offered to drive us to the intersection of the highway. We were so lucky to receive such a wonderful hitch with lively conversing and even opportunities to take pictures of the canyons we passed. Pulling off on the side of the road, we got out continuing our conversation as they offered to take our picture in front of Abiquiu Lake. It is always such a joy to meet wonderful people on the road. Thank you so much for the ride, and for welcoming us into your car and sharing a conversation with us!

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Our second hitch came quickly from a man and his chihuahua. A brief ride, he dropped us off at Bode's General Store down the rode. He desperately needed gas, and as we rode with him down the highway, his jeep kept jerking forward as it ran on fumes.

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Our third hitch  was another wonderful ride. Carol and Darian picked us up after driving past and then eventually turning around. They were volunteers at Ghost Ranch, and they were conveniently driving into Espanola. Admittedly, we talked their ear off about our time in New Mexico and on the trail. We arrived in Espanola, expressed our gratitude and threw our thumbs and sign back up. This time showing the Santa Fe side. Almost immediately, a car honked and pulled over. We hopped in. Most hitches are insignificant experiences, ones that are appreciated and memorable but not impressionable. Some hitches are scary and you immediately regret jumping into the car with a stranger. Then, there are those hitches that are absolutely perfect.  When we sat down in the car, an older gentleman with shoulder length curly silver hair sat behind the steering wheel. Immediately, he warned us about the homeless and drug culture of Santa Fe. He noticed us on the side of the road as different from the usual hitch-hiker, someone you would not want to pick up, and decided to offer us a ride. Our gear and appearance deemed us as just the casual hippie, instead of the drug junkie. Thank goodness. Over the course of the car ride, Michael the River Guide, gave us an incredibly informative and detailed geological and cultural tour of the area. We were ecstatic and overwhelmed with his knowledge, and we clung on to every word and all of the questions that were becoming answered. He spoke of the volcanic remains, and the purpose of the ash in Pueblo pottery as well as the sad irony of these Pueblos in the modern world. Continuing on, he took us on detours to see the beauty of the architecture of the adobe homes and Shidoni, a recently closed sculpture studio and garden. Next, he drove us to Fort Marcy in order to show us the city from above, a bird's eye view. He continued our tour through the streets, pointing our new art installations, and finally, dropping us off near the city's center. We parted ways with the intention to see him again over the next two days, and he drove off, comically yelling out the window, " Dirty Hippies", as he smiled and waved. How lucky we were to receive what to us is the most appropriate and perfect hitch. Our minds were so satisfied with all this new knowledge of the area, and the land became even more alive. We were able to put reason and purpose with what we were observing like the importance of physiology to anatomy. From two dirty hippies to another, thank you so much for picking us up and making our hitch from Espanola to Santa Fe both significant and memorable.


We had arrived in  Santa Fe, a city brightened by culture and the heartbeat of people filling all of the spaces in between adobe styled buildings. Needless to say, we were overwhelmed. So we began to walk towards the Motel 6 to drop our packs and explore. As we walked down the street, we noticed a small fly shop, the High Desert Angler, and could not help for go inside. You can see where our priorities lay.


Once inside the shop, we were surrounded by familiar smells, sights, and the feeling of our own fly shop back in Nashville. We shared a wonderful conversation with Ed, who informed us about fishing in the area and life in the industry. If you ever find yourself in Santa Fe, you must check out High Desert Angler. There is just something so special about a local fly shop and the conversations that happen among the hackle and thread.

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With the day coming to a close and the sun beginning to set, we met up with The Boys and went to Del Charro Saloon for dinner.

We plan on spending the weekend in Santa Fe before getting back on trail and finishing up our time in New Mexico.

Cheers to riding in cars with strangers!

Garbelly & Critter