I passed ten miles, then fifteen, twenty, twenty-five and pushed on for my thirty. At 7pm, after thirty-one miles I looked around for flat spots suitable for camping. Arresting my momentum on a steep downhill, I jumped over a small creek and, before the trail rose once more, a level area beckoned to my right. It was a great spot; fallen logs offered a seating perch, and the trees thinned, lending a late sun to my surroundings.
I put up the tent as a few dark clouds threatened, fluffed up my sleeping bag and settled down to cook.
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My Mexican rice finished hydrating as I sipped on a welcome tea. Gingerly lifting the pot, my grip faltered and half the contents ended up on the forest floor. I scraped up what I could, and hoped the remnants didn’t act as a general invitation for any roaming bears.
Bears were the least of my concerns as I shut my eyes. Excited at the prospect of reaching Colorado in two weeks and completing New Mexico, little did I know that in just twelve hours I’d be off the CDT for good.
The post office in Cuba was still seventy-five miles away, requiring two thirty-mile days and a fifteen-miler on Saturday morning. I packed up and, digesting my porridge, left before 6am.
By seven my chest was hurting around the heart. My concern was not just the pain, but also the fact that Grants was now thirty-five miles behind me, and Cuba a further seventy. I blamed a pulled muscle or warming-up twinges.
Over two hours the pain increased until finally I had to stop. My breathing had become shallow, it hurt when I took deep breaths and the pain was relentless. At that moment HoJo appeared. I was convinced he was at least twenty miles ahead as he had left Grants the day before.