Continental Divide Trail – May 2nd, 2009
This morning was very exciting. Five miles out from route 90 I came across actual, groomed TRAIL! It was like being on the PCT, with gentle ups and downs through dry, desert landscape. I was able to stretch my legs and hike – no slashing by sharp needles, searching in the distance for faint, markers, and rolling my ankles across loose, sharp stones that I could not see beneath the brush. Good trail was a luxury on this southern section of the CDT.
I could hear traffic as I approached the road, and realized it was pretty light. I reached the side of the road, walked down to what looked like a small pullover, and dropped my pack. I took off my sunglasses, and worked to appear as pleasant and non-threatening as possible. A few vehicles passed me, and many would slow, smile and wave, but none of them stopped. That was a little odd, as typically drivers that did not stop would not make eye contact and speed up as they passed me.
After waiting for about 30 minutes, a small red car pulled over and an interesting looking woman with shoulder length blonde hair and huge white sunglasses hopped out, hurried around her car, and popped the trunk on the little Chevy. She was very friendly, and gladly offered to take me into Silver City.
The ride into Silver City was interesting. I’ve hitch hiked a lot, and sometimes found that people willing to pick up strangers on the side of the road are occasionally a little colorful. Francine was no exception. Five minutes into the ride she announced “I guess it’s obvious I am Transgender.” I had noticed a difference, but had really not given it a lot of thought. I was not exactly sure how to reply, so I just smiled and said “Oh really?” Honestly, I didn’t care, but did not want to be rude. My lifestyle (walking for months on end) was not atypical, and I was certainly not going to judge another person’s. My response appeared to open a flood gate for her, and I listened for the next 20 minutes as she talked about her challenges, beliefs, and what she wanted out of the lifestyle she had chosen.
I mostly listened, and responded politely, on the drive into town. I got the sense that she was excited to have someone to talk to, even for the brief few minutes she had my attention. I did not ask, but wondered what it must be like to live in this part of the country, struggling to be accepted, desperate for any kind of acceptance, even from strangers you picked up on the road.
Francine dropped me off at the motel where I had booked a room via my phone the day before. Pulling my pack out of her trunk, I turned to her and smiled. “Thank you for the ride, and good luck with everything.” She beamed back at me with a huge smile. I watched her drive away, and hoped she would be able to find what she was seeking, and that her journey would not be too hard.
I checked into my room, and jumped in the shower before heading out to run chores. Silver City was spread out, so in a fit of laziness I called a local cab to take me to the PO, that was all the way on the other side of town. From there I walked to the “Hike and Bike,” where I was able to get some shorts.
Arriving back at the Room, I saw Ron coming out of his room. He was staying in town for a few days and doing some day hiking. We agreed to meet for dinner, and it was good to catch up. He was going to wait around on Mr. K., and the others before heading out. He preferred to hike with other hikers, and found solo hiking boring.
I headed back to my room to pack up and get ready to hike out the next morning. I also needed to scope out a place that served an early breakfast. I tried never to leave town without one final meal, and if possible, a Subway sandwich to carry along for lunch and dinner.