I took my time leaving Silver City. Had a long, relaxing breakfast and slowly packed the clothes I had washed. I knew that I had a few long days ahead where there would not be much in the way of towns. I would have to try to make sure I had enough food and water to be comfortable between the restocking possibilities and hope that the stores marked on my map were actually still in existence and open.
I wanted to get some distance covered and had set my sights on walking to Cliff, or rather just past. It was easy going and nice scenery. Green rolling hills, a reasonably wide shoulder to walk on and not too hot weather. I have been lucky with the weather so far. It has not been anywhere as hot as it can be during a typical southern summer. Although I have had some hot days, I have not had day after day of 40+ degrees. Not complaining, it’s made life a lot easier for me!
I rolled through Cliff as the sun was starting to set and began looking for someplace to camp. Not much luck and it was getting darker and darker. I finally spotted a small road of to the left that led over a cattle grid and had open pastures on both sides. Pastures might be a bit of an exaggeration, there was some sturdy brush and a lot of sand. I turned of and 20m down the road I camped behind a small fenced enclosure. It was a cemetery….
Next morning I started early and had my sights set on making it to Buckhorn, where there was supposed to be a store, and have breakfast there. I was there by 9 and walked in to “The Last Chance” store to find a group of elderly locals having morning coffee. I ordered a pizza, grabbed some coffee and sat down for a nice rest. The pizza was great and I ended up ordering one more, I was hungry! After spending some time talking to the owner and buying supplies for the coming day, it was time to continue. I had decided to try to make it to the New Mexico – Arizona border before stopping for the day. There was also another important line to cross during the day, I was just about to pass the 10,000 km mark!
In fact I passed that point just 3 hours later, at the intersection of road 180 and 78. I haven’t been celebrating the 1,000 km marks the way I did early on during the-walk, but this felt like a big deal. I sat down, enjoyed some drink, fruit and biscuits and reflected on the journey that had brought me here. Here I was, sitting on a lonely corner in New Mexico, in the gravel, with close to 16 months of walking behind me and innumerable experiences. The thing is, I am not even halfway yet! Whatever happens from here, I have come to realise that I am proud and content with what I have done so far and I am still very much looking forward to future adventures. It was hot sitting in the sun and there was no shade, so I sat with my thoughts for a while and then hopped up and started walking towards Arizona!
I spent the afternoon walking through some rain storms, nice after the heat, and finally arrived at the border just before the sun started setting. I headed into Arizona, the second last state on my USA crossing, and found a nice campsite in the state forest. Nice that is, apart from all the bugs!
Next day, sunday, I walked over the mountain through some really nice scenery and made my way down to Three Way. Along the way several cars stopped to talk to me and ask what I was doing, loneliness is not a problem! I resupplied at Three Way and walked to the ranger station. They have a nice picnic/camping area set up for bicycle riders and I sat at one of the tables to enjoy some food. Before I knew it, the wind was blowing hard and there appeared to be a big thunderstorm heading towards me. It arrived with a lot of smattering on the roof and I realised that it was not just a rainstorm, it was hailing. Talk about luck! I have essentially been without shelter for the last 3 days and the first time I sit down under a proper roof, it starts hailing.
It was already late in the afternoon and I decided to stay the night at the ranger station even though I had only walked a bit more than 30 km that day. Shelter from the rain, toilets and a water tap to wash under was to much luxury to pass up….
I spent a comfortable night, sleeping on soft grass, and spent monday walking from Three Way to Safford. A long day but I spent the night in a hotel, feeling luxurious.
Tuesday I set of towards Fort Thomas, where I was hoping to restock before a long stretch without shops. I spent the last 2 hours walking through a very heavy thunderstorm. At one stage I was taking one step forward and being blown 2 steps back! At least it wasn’t hailing. I Finally arrived in Fort Thomas to find the store closed. I hid from the rain under the shops’ awning and tried to figure out what I was going to do for food and water during the next day, not to mention that evening. I had enough water to get by if I was careful and would have to survive on nuts…
When the rain finally stopped, I headed out. I had only walked a few steps when a car stopped and a friendly couple looked out. They had brought me some dinner! Talk about timing. Warm potato soup with cheese, some bread, drink and snacks. Just what I needed. I told them that they had made my day and sat down at the local park to enjoy!
Heading out of town I found a Family Dollar store at the edge of town that was not marked on my map and I was able to restock.
It was getting dark and I did not walk far before finding a camping spot behind an old ruined building. Spent the night looking up at the stars and listening to the cattle.
Next day I passed through Geronimo and Bylas, Apache country. It was a long hot day of walking and I wandered off the road just before Peridot to try to find a campsite that was a little bit secluded. I ended up amongst the shrubs, 100 m or so of the road. Another night looking up at the stars, they really are something special here in the desert.
Peridot to Globe was an easy day, cloudy and not to hot but the next day was far from perfect. Globe to Superior. The scenery was great, hills and sandstone mountains, up and down, plenty of variation. The problem was the traffic and the lack of a wide shoulder to walk on. I had to swap sides to walk on depending on which side was wider, if there was one at all. I hate walking on the right side of the road, not being able to see oncoming traffic is not much fun, especially when they are roaring past, just inches from you.
I made it to Superior unharmed and was able to check into a hotel to get some solid rest in preparation for what I expected would be a long hard day the next day.
The road was a lot better to walk along the next day, but the scenery was no where as nice. Not at all bad but not as spectacular. The shoulder was wide and there was plenty of room to walk safely and just enjoy.
I made it to Gold Canyon and stopped at yet another hotel. Not good for the economy…
Sunday was a slow walk into Mesa and the end of another map. I now only have one map left before I reach the Pacific ocean. 3 weeks of walking before I reach an ocean I thought I would see first when I had walked through Asia and parts of Australia.
The next 2 days where hot walking through Phoenix and surrounding towns. Interesting as a change from the more rural walking I have been doing lately. No need to carry a lot of water and food accessible almost all the time but I did not cover as much distance as I would have liked because I have been feeling a bit tired.
Hopefully I will be a bit rejuvenated tomorrow after a few easier days, time will tell!
Now for the big question… Do compression socks work?
Yes, they do. I have been trying them on and off to get an idea of what they do and don’t do. After a long hard day I don’t necessarily feel less tired, the big difference is the next day. Less swelling and soreness. A hard day of walking can leave my calves very “pumped” and a bit sore the next day, but with the compression socks there is nearly no pump at all and much less soreness. They do look a bit dorky, but they work. I’ll just have to remember to push them down every time I get my photograph taken!
But they will hopefully help me to keep walking….
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