Day 20: The Road to Pie
Saturday, May 14, 2022 11:04 pm
Location: Pie Town / Toaster House (333.5 miles)

Today brought me to Pie Town, the third trail town on the CDT.

It was again cool overnight, but it was much warmer than it was yesterday. Despite cowboy camping on the ground in the “shelter” at the Davila Ranch, I was not too cold.

We had a bit of a slow start today. Simple and I cooked eggs and potatoes; I had some of Walking Home’s excess pork and beans; and we all in general ate more than we’d normally have on the trail.

Simple, Dog Bite, Plus One, Patches, and I finally left around 8:30, as the sun was getting into position to roast us on the rest of the 13 mile dirt roadwalk into Pie Town. Shortly after we started, I commented how weird it was to be in the middle of nowhere, not even coming from town, and yet be clean with clean clothes.

Hikers on the Road
Hikers on the RoadSimple, Plus One, and Dog Bite lead; Patches and I trail behind.

The roadwalk was mostly uneventful; only a small handful of cars passed us. After our first break, with their feet tired of the roadwalk, Plus One and Patches managed to get a hitch into town.

Later, we passed two large drainpipes that had been buried under the road, and which emptied into deep gullies. During monsoon season, the gullies must be absolutely awash in water.

A Drainage Ditch
A Drainage DitchA deep gully formed from monsoon season runoff.

We took three breaks today, at roughly one hour intervals. Just as Simple and I were finishing our third break, about three miles outside of town (Dog Bite had gone on ahead of us, and we’d lost sight of him when we stopped), a car approached from the direction of town. In it were Sasquatch, Tiempo, and Plus One, handing out sodas and beer.

The first bikepacker of the trail also passed us shortly after we got our sodas. Simple (who has hiked the Colorado portion of the trail) said there would be lots of bikers in Colorado, and they wouldn’t all be nearly as well-behaved as this bicyclist was.

It occurred to me today that the CDT has, so far, had many roadwalks individually longer than many full days I spent hiking on the Appalachian Trail. There roadwalks are great for making distance quickly; but they’re mentally and physically very taxing.

Just before two, Simple and I arrived in Pie Town, at the Toaster House, a donation-based hostel whose front entrance is decorated with toasters and toaster ovens of various types.

The Toaster House
The Toaster House
On the Road to Steak
On the Road to SteakLongstride, Mr. Freeze, Patches, Stickman, Plus One, and Dog Bite. Not pictured: Wagon, Tiempo, and Simple.

Almost as soon as I arrived in Pie Town, I was on my way out. Nine of us (Tiempo, Simple, Wagon, Plus One, Dog Bite, Mr. Freeze, Patches, Stickman, and myself) piled into a car borrowed from Nita, who owns Toaster House, and headed half an hour out of town to a steakhouse. I got a T-bone steak, which was good (though I’m not sure was worth what I paid for it). I also got a Pecan Pie, which was excellent. (I still need to actually get a pie in Pie Town, but that’ll have to happen tomorrow.)

One of the topics of discussion are the ongoing fires in New Mexico. The news so far seems to be that many of the forests and parks to the north in New Mexico will be closed to entry because of fires, and also the extremely dry conditions which make new fires very easy to start. This shouldn’t present a problem hiking to Grants (the next trail town), and might not be a problem for getting to Cuba (the town after), but it looks likely to be problematic north of Cuba. But apparently, the CDTC is working with the relevant authorities to work out an alternate (since that’ll be better than a whole lot of hikers blazing their own paths). My current plan is to continue on as usual, and reassess once I get to Grants and more information is available.

Back at Toaster House, I spent most of the afternoon being lazy, and set up my tent outside because there was no space inside.

Sometime after dark, Nita showed up and chatted with seven of us who were sitting at a table outside. A fan of tequila, she offered to share several different bottles of tequila with us. They all tasted nice.

We listened to her varied stories with interest. We learned that she’d hosted her first hiker in 1981, and has been hosting hikers ever since; her children being raised with the occasional guest from afar. (Back then, traffic on the CDT was tens of hikers per year; now it is tens of hikers each day.) Fortunately, in all those years, there have only been a few incidents, and she continues to let hikers use the house. (She no longer lives here, having moved a few miles outside of town. Instead, a live-in caretaker manages the house.)

Places like Toaster House are wonderful parts of any long-distance trail, and we are all fortunate to have them, and such wonderful trail angels that go out of their way to provide them. Thanks, Nita, for going out of your way to allow the Toaster House to be such a nice place for hikers during their adventures!