“…there’s a NEW Mexico?”

5/28/22: Austin to Clovis (448 miles) (this is a youtube link, ppl)

They say blog journaling is so 2022, so here I am tumblring onto the train via a hotel room in Clovis, NM. I had hoped to be writing this poolside after the long drive, but:

Pool of Enchantment

Anyone who knows me — and for the handful of folks who actually read this — likely know I am off on another solo backpacking trip. 3rd, to be exact, and my second annual Memorial Day week adventure. For the sake of my mother’s concern I’ve decided to pick up a GPS tracker/SOS beacon that I dearly hope won’t get washed down to Navajo Lake.

Today was an initial exercise trying it out on the hot ass drive from Austin. I figure why not share it with friends who care about my well-being when I get out into the woods: https://share.garmin.com/bellwetheraudio (pw: cmburns)

The map is a little clunky — I’ve only looked on my laptop so I imagine it might be worse on a phone (shrug). I practiced placing waypoints along the way:

  • Boy & His Shadow — this was ~90 minutes into the drive north of Lometa, TX when I finally felt like I was entering this adventure. I started getting excited about what all will happen physically, emotionally, & spiritually. The Tow’rs song was playing off a collaborative Spotify playlist I made with Krystal Kay Cortez who was also going on her own adventure to Boulder this week. My first collaborative playlist and I’m proud of the work: Today’s leg ended on Townes Loretta.
  • Zephyr, TX — anyone who went to Lufkin High School since the 90’s knows of this small hill country town because of Truitt Eubank. A truly great chemistry teacher and soulful human. I just did a quick search to see he’s still teaching and, probably, still talking about coming from nowhere Zephyr, TX.
  • World’s Largest Pothole — Well, not really, but for a Honda Fit it was pretty rough this very Saturday before Memorial Day last year:
Angels in Sweetwater, TX (2021)
  • 109 Degrees and Dust Storms! — Holy shit it was hot in the Panhandle today…and on May 28th. I’m worried this will be a worse summer than 2013. Last year I hydroplaned through countless storms on US-84 into New Mexico. Today I experienced what that bizarre dude at the mezcal tasting on Wednesday was preaching to Southpaw about Dust Bowl II.

This part of Texas/New Mexico is unforgiving and the people that have made a life here have my full respect. This is a hard place to call home and I’m having a difficult time finding non-profit community groups. It feels like a forgotten/isolated community, but not in a healthy way. I need more time to understand how I can help.

Last year I booked an AirBnb cabin in Vallecito, CO for this trip. I was desiring a return to the Weminuche Wilderness. It turns out the host (Shaun) is a firefighter, emergency responder, and avid trail runner who spends a lot of time in these woods. When I booked the cabin and told him my plans he called me to talk it over. I cancelled the reservation. The reason: a 2005 avalanche destroyed the last bridge over Vallecito creek and with a healthy winter it was raging. He didn’t want to have to come rescue me and/or my body. I heeded his advice and explored the Pecos Wilderness last year instead.

This year the Pecos Wilderness has been on fire. I reached out to Shuan and he gave the green light to come this early in the season. We talked last night and he thinks I can cross Vallecito. The troubling part is I will have to cross 20 yards of waist-deep, cold water with a full pack on my first day. How to navigate that has been weighing on me during the drive today.

Plan of Record (49 miles, minus any 14er climbs)

It’s going to be weighing on me until I reach that moment on Tuesday. Next stop: Abiquiu.

Lubbock (on everything)



Armchair storyteller and universal enthusiast

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