We woke up early as usual. Our sleep is aligned with the sun. When the first rays of light peek over the horizon, we awake. When the light from the sunset fades, we are in our sleeping bags, usually falling asleep typing our blog for the day. The stars have not even come out yet.
We set out to the Pie Town Cafe to start the day off with a good breakfast. Two eggs, half a plate of potatoes and a big sausage patty (Garbelly only with the meat), and our day was off to the right start. The food was outstanding and the atmosphere just as good. We were treated as if we were regulars Our zero day was off to a great start.
After we ate we headed off walking the three miles down the highway to the Top of the World General Store. Walking extra miles on town days is never fun, so we stuck our thumbs out and wished for the best. In this case the best included anyone over sixty years of age, anyone driving a Subaru and anyone that would be considered a hippie. This is the usual group that picks up hitch hikers. After walking about a mile, a Jeep pulled over on the side of the road and an older gentleman opened the door for us. They were listening to polka and on their way to Phoenix, but they were very happy to take us to the store.
Once we got to the Top of the World General Store, we bought a ton of snacks and food we did not need and washed our laundry. One of the washing machines would not work and was full of water, but Garbelly worked some magic and got it running again. After a couple hours of talking to the owner and other customers, we had finished up our laundry and headed back to Pie Town with a hitch from a rickety white pickup truck.
When we got back we met a few new faces and soon after made our way up to lunch at the Pie Town Cafe, again. On our way we met a local Contractor who also happened to take care of most of the septic systems in the area. We talked for about twenty minutes about everything from local history to the importance of the trees in the area and about how people are starting to pay more attention to environmental issues and protection. It was refreshing to hear. In fact, the people of New Mexico that we have met have all seemed to be on the same page on that matter. From the desert hippies to the conservative gun toting cowboys (they have open carry so we have seen a lot of pistols on the hip), they all seem to agree on one thing, helping each other out and caring for the land. Stinky hikers are not exactly every town's favorite group of people, but we have received nothing but generosity and hospitality along this hike.
At lunch, Garbelly finally had a burger and fries and Critter had a cheese quesadilla. Lunch always needs dessert in the desert, so we headed up to the Pie-o-neer to get a piece of pie and some ice cream. The pies ranged from peach to triple berry to apple pie with pine nuts and green chiles (a local favorite). We saw a table of hikers there, but all of the seats were full. As we started to sit down at our own table, an older couple invited us to sit with them. We found out their names were John and Anzi Thomas and they were the trail angels we had heard about who live fifteen miles up the road.
John was a Korean War veteran who had owned a machine shop in Albuquerque. He was also the nephew of Civil War General Thomas from down in Tennessee. He and Anzi have been married for sixty-six years and had all sorts of advice for us. Heck at one time John told us he was an ordained minister and asked us if we wanted to get married. Next thing we know, we had talked for over two hours and closed down the restaurant.
When we got back to the house, fellow hiker and chef Chris had grilled up a couple steaks and some vegetables that Nita had provided, and we ate like kings. Nita even made Critter a beet and arugula salad that was DELICIOUS. All the hikers sat on the back porch and talked about plans for the next day and reminisced about the brutal sections we had all already hiked.
Today was all about the people that surround the trail. Yeah, most hikers are great to be around, but none of us could do it without the love and support we get along the trail. Not every town we get to has a hotel we can rest up at or a nice shower to wash away the dirt. A lot of trail towns do not even have cell service. In these towns, the locals always take care of us. Some of them have dreams of hiking or biking the Divide and want to hear our stories, but most just want to help out a stranger in need. Either way we cannot thank the people of Pie Town enough for welcoming us to such a beautiful place.
Cheers to the love and kindness we receive from strangers! It makes our day.
Garbelly & Critter