Adventurous Days and Cold Nights

Alright, we have all calmed down after the recent events and have now some road walking to do, out of Silver City. Road walking is terrible for the feet, hips and knees, but the CDT has apparently plenty of it.

The plan is to meet Dale again at the trailhead. It will be one of our last slack packing opportunities for the next 5 months so we very happily grab the chance!

It goes smooth, there is not much traffic.

Silver City is already behind us, in about 2 miles we will meet Dale where the road walking ends and we can go back to a (more or less) existing trail.

We take some shortcuts through the woods so we don’t know whether Dale is already at the meeting point with our stuff.

There is the trailhead, but Dale is not here. Alright, let’s sit down and wait a little.

We wait.

We wait.

No phone reception here.


Both Felix and I have a sinking déja vu kind of feeling.

A pickup drives by and the guy says:

“Have you guys seen a red car driving by?”

“No sir.”

“We are looking for a guy in a red car, he has gone bonkers and has a sort of farm tool in his possession with which he is threatening people. We try to catch him. I sure hope I don’t have to shoot him”.

“Aha… Errr, no we have been sitting here for a while and have not seen a red car. But do you by any chance have seen a dark greenish van?”

The guy scratches his beard:

“Hmmm, let me think, yes, I guess there was a green van down the road, the van is ditched into the side of the road. That guy in the red car chased him off the road.”

“What?! Oh god, is the guy driving the van OK? This might be my dad!!?”

“Yes the man seemed OK, but the van is off the road”.

Oh dear!! We hike back as fast as we can.

“Oh there is the van, slightly tilted on the side of the road!

“And there is Dale! He seems to be talking to a police officer!”

He looks rather shaken up.

Dale has apparently already called 911 (!). He has also already called the AAA “tow away” guys to get the car out of the ditch.

He tells us: “a very angry and disturbed guy in a red car came up to me, pushed me, drove in front of me, got out of his car with a sort of farming tool and threatened me. He tried to break through the van window with the tool. So all I could do is put the van into reverse and drive backwards as fast as I could. This manouver luckily startled the guy so he got back into the car and buggered off. But I ended up in the ditch. The car hit a tree and a rock. And there are lots of scratch marks from his farming tool on the van and window.

Oh man!!! Oh poor Dale!! He must have been terrified! What a horrible situation to find yourself in!

The AAA tow guys winch the van out of its misery.

Dale tests the van. How incredible! The van looks rather beaten up but is still driving!

Both Felix and I don’t feel like hiking on at the moment at all. For one thing, this crazy guy is still somewhere out here and also, we both want to drive back into town with Dale right now to make sure he is OK and the van is OK.

We say goodbye to the officers and drive back to where we came from, all the three of us still startled and shaken about what just happened here.

We drive to an auto part shop and Dale purches material to fix the damaged back-light.

Now we all need some normality so we go and have some icecream (plus french fries in my case).

Dale seems fine, so we decide to drive up there again so that he can drop us off. As we have already walked the road, we can this time drive with Dale.

I have very deep respect for Dale! How he handled both these very difficult situations! He is such an amazing guy!!

So off we go into the woods, with our fully loaded packs. We both are a little paranoid still, so after a few hours hiking we decide to call it a day and camp. There are frogs here! But Felix tells me that these frogs are intruders and killing the aboriginal frogs. Hmmmm.

We are currently on the “Gila River Alternate Route” (the CDT has many alternative route options!)

So this means, that we soon will hike in a river valley and need to cross the river several times! Apparently there is more water in the Gila River than in previous years at this time of year. This is going to be intresting to say the least!

But first, more fences to crawl under:

We camp shortly before the river, sleep, get up in the dark and start hiking by dawn (currently 6.15 am).

OK, first crossing of the river!

Oh wow: cold, hip-deep, strong current. Alright! Let’s get started! A few minutes later, we have to cross again, and then again, and again, and again. At each crossing the deepness varies. I never know how high the water is going to be!

The rocks are big and slippery, so it’s a nowbrainer that we keep our boots on.

You must cross with boots on.

Oh my, this here seems to be a tough one. Felix goes in first and turns around.

“Nope. Not possible”.

But we HAVE to cross here, there is no other option! The valley walls mark the way!

I try to go in too.

Until the middle. The water comes up to my chest. Holy shit! “NO WAY!” I go back.


Felix: “I think we have to swim the last bit to the other side. See these two grass bushes. Swim towards these and grab hold of them and then throw yourself towards the other side”.

“You got to be kidding me Felix!”

“The current is too strong! I am not going to swim, let alone with my pack on!”

“We have to! Wait, I will go first, put my pack onto the other side, wait for you by the grassy bushes, and will grab you once you get there”.

Oh my!

“I can do this”.

“I need to do this!”

So I walk into the river as far in as I can.

“Oh dear, I can’t stand anymore, too deep, current too strong!”

I try to swim towards the bushes, swallow water, cough, hang on to the grass but can’t support myself. Felix grabs me and helps towing me to the other side!

Oh holy holy shit! That was something! I am now completely soaked and ice ice cold.

The sun does not shine today (of all days!) and we are at about 2200 meter.

I am sooo cold and wet!

But onwards we must go. River crossing after river crossing.

It sure is beautiful out here (or rather in here!) but I don’t take anymore pictures, I have to concentrate on these crossings!

In the late afternoon we see the first other hikers today! It’s Wing-it and Toke.

They said they counted the crossings, it has been about 48 times so far.

What a day! I will always remember!!

“Felix, do you agree that we take the High Route Alternate tomorrow”? I am kinda done with these crossings!”

He agrees (I know he would go on tomorrow in the river route, we hear it would mean about 100 more crossings (seriously!) so I am glad he is OK with me whimping out).

We stay at Doc Campbells, which is very close to these cliff dwellings which we are going to visit.

Super intresting! It’s a good dose of history to look at and walk in!!

In the morning we hike up to the top of the valley through a beautiful forest sitting on a flat plateau. I am now dry and warm.

There is even a path here on this side route! Luxury on the CDT!

We now see the valley and Gila River from above! Wow! It’s breathtaking!! It has a Grand Canyon feeling to it!!

We camp in a magical place! Oh how wonderful it is to be out here!

But it gets soooo cold at night. It’s like 3 degrees. I sleep in all my cloths (sleeping cloths first layer, hiking cloths second layer, puffy third layer (puffy is hiker slang for down jacket), rain pants and rain jacket fourth layer, whooly hat on head. Still freezing!)

But you know what, I love it anyway! That’s the life I love!

It’s morning, time to crawl out of Maggy, pack, brush teeth, and hike.

Felix and I have decided to go “stoveless”. (Hiker slang for not carrying stove/fuel and just cold soak your dinner).


So no breakfast. We just pack and go and eat a protein bar while walking.

For dinner tonight, we filter water out of a creek (with frog eggs in it!) carry the soaking food for three hours, et voilà!

The path leads us down back into the valley, we do more river crossings, but here they are now a walk in the park! Only knee/hip deep stuff.

We reach the source of the river, where we plan to meet up with Dale again in the middle of nowhere! He will bring us some food (I ordered a Greek Salad and bread!).

Dale is not here.

Well, let’s wait.

We wait and wait.

Ah no!! Not again!

We start to worry once again and come once again up with “most likely scenarios” about what could have possibly happened that is not something bad”.

It gets dark. No Dale.

We texted him through satellite device (Felix had given him his) but there is no response from him still…”

Did he have an accident?

We joke that the biggest thrill so far on the CDT has been the “worry about Dale” experiences.

It’s way past 9pm, pitch black dark, a car comes driving on the dirt road! Oh I sooo hope it’s Dale!!

It’s Dale indeed!!

Ahhhhhhhhh! Relieve!!! Hurray!

Apparently a road was closed so he had to drive a hell of a detour! He did not send us a satellite message as he wanted to save time and get here!

I guess it’s always the case that the ones who worry wait for a message and the ones who do the action think “everything is fine”.

To all the mums out there: “don’t worry if you don’t hear from your kids! They are most likely fine and just in the middle of some adventure!

Belive me, Dale is still enjoying all this greatly! He is such an adventurous guy and so very determined to help us!

“Dale: once again, you are amazing!!!”

I eat some of the huge Greek Salad Dale brought out and go to sleep.

There is some left over salad so Felix fills it into a Ziplock bag and takes it with him to eat as a snack.

What an awesome day today! Look at these clouds!!

I keep saying that New Mexico is a paradise for cloud lovers!

We have to do some more dirtroad walking, but if it is like this, I don’t mind at all!

We will now hike somewhat 40 miles and then meet up with Dale most probably one last time. He will still hang around in New Mexico a little longer and meet up with his brother at one point and do some hiking with him. Perhaps there is another possibility to meet up in the future, we will see how it goes.

Its now only two days and we can finally have a shower, coffee, and hot food again!


We hike on a rather waterless stretch. The only source is this stuff here:


Oh my. This stuff will clog my filter badly!!

But I have to do what I have to do:

Get some of this cow-pond-brew out, filter, drink!

We are indeed on the CDT!!

10 replies
  1. Roger says:

    Love it! I followed you on your PCT adventure and quite a difference here. Love both yours and Dales attitude. Thanks for sharing your adventure.

  2. Alexandra says:

    Incredible! I just read your last post and now followed by this one – need some time for my heart to find its normal beating pattern again… I am so glad for you that Dale and Felix and you, Heidi, are alright! What an adventure already. All my best wishes to you!

  3. Kathy says:

    Hello Heidi–Your writing makes me feel as though I am there with you–and some of these experiences with Dale and the water crossings are heart stopping!! Glad everyone’s ok! And, the adventure continues! The scenery and skies are beautiful— what a great way to enjoy them!

  4. Jim & Carol says:

    Who’s having the biggest adventure, you two or Dale? Jim wanted to see you swimming across the river with your pack on, Heidi! I was laughing so hard I had tears coming our of my eyes (that was only after I knew Dale was okay). Happy trails!!

  5. Dale Pekar says:

    This was the only time in my life when I’ve actually had someone attack me. When the red car first came alongside me, I thought he was just trying to pass me, dangerously close, but then he pulled right in front of me so that in order to avoid hitting him I had to put at least one wheel into the borrow ditch. And then he came out of his car yelling, with a wooden stick and started beating on my door. It all seemed kinda strange. He had no shirt on and seemed quite angry but I’d never seen him or his car before. And a wooden stick wasn’t much of a weapon. When he started beating on my wide window I leaned away from the glass, threw it into reverse and hit the gas–figuring there was still nothing behind me. As I reversed he took off running to his car. I drove off the opposite side of the road into that borrow ditch until I hit a tree. Then I just sat there a moment wondering what to do next. I smelled something burning and so wondered if my catalytic converter might be touching some vegetation under the van so I shut off the engine. Then I wondered about whether to get out of the van. Then I got out my phone and said, “Hey Siri, call 911” And Siri said something like, “Calling 911 emergency.” And luckily I had cellphone coverage. When the police arrived they took some photos of the van door dents and scratches, measured the tire tracks in the dirt, that kind of thing, and called for a tow. After a while they checked on the tow and said the company had declined the tow–probably because we were out in the boondocks. Then I remembered my AAA membership and called them. When they arrived they told the police they had apparently had a similar encounter with the same fellow some time back, but that when they got out of their vehicle to confront him, that he got in his car and drove off. They had followed him to a wolf preserve area where he got out of his car and ran into the woods. They had never bothered to report the incident to the police. When I backed into the tree I broke the lens on a tail light. I fixed it with some red 3M tape when we got back to Silver City–before hitting the local Dairy Queen for some dairy therapy. Far as I can figure, the guy was just out to scare me. A wooden stick is no real weapon, but his anger seemed genuine. The police told us that this was April 20–420–and that people were gathering for some kind of drug event. I don’t know whether that was related or just coincidental.

    • Heidi says:

      Thank you so much Dale for sharing your side of the events!! I am so glad that you stayed calm and that all turned out well in the end! Big hug! Heidi


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