The tranquil start to the High Route lulled us both into a false sense of security, and it soon turned on us. Temperatures plummeted to below freezing at night, and navigation was a nightmare, requiring position and route checks every fifteen minutes. Remote would be an understatement; apart from forest roads, we saw nothing man made for 140 miles. We made it to Pie Town yesterday – dirty, smelly, exhausted, cold and hungry.
The town of Grants, seventy miles ahead, was the next chance to resupply after Pie Town. I’d planned on three days and left on my own at 6.30am to make inroads.
I soon discovered that the weather in New Mexico could change dramatically. Because of the arid environment, it is easy to forget how high this part of the world is. Pie Town, for example, lies at an elevation of 7,778ft.
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Ten minutes after leaving, and cowering under dark, heavy clouds, the CDT reared up with a sting in its tail. I was expecting the clouds to dump their contents, but I anticipated rain, not snow. A fierce, westerly wind roared across from my left, knocking me around like litter on a street. The temperature dropped and I scrabbled around for every item of clothing I could muster. My umbrella retaliated and surrendered in the storm.
The afternoon tempered somewhat as snow gave way to rain. As I hiked across a flat landscape, I scanned west to see a succession of squalls racing eastwards, a conveyer belt of storms. Trying to gauge their speed and direction, I constantly adjusted my pace in an attempt to pass between them, ofen failing. At camp the elements improved, and I took time to dry out.