As I mentioned before the hotel we stayed in was straight out of the 19th century. There were old pictures, murals, paintings and everything you could imagine from from a time long gone. I spent the night tossing and turning anxious about something. I think the thru hiker mentality is starting to kick in... Go go go. This morning we stuck around for the free breakfast and took a little extra since we didn't resupply in town. I have an odd feeling we might run out of food. I just have energy bars for lunch, I already hate energy bars. On our 6 mile road walk out of town we got to see a bit more of the town. The streets were lined with art stores and eclectic coffee shops. There were several closed store fronts and we were told the movie theater closed 3 years ago. Every year in late July the town floods, because of this all of the sidewalks are raised 1 to 6 feet off the street level. Silver City is also the place Billy the Kid called home.
Half way out of of town we met a nice couple that gave us some water and apples, the husband was fully of stories. A couple miles later we were offered a ride, we politely refused. Eventually we made it to the picnic area. Picnic tables always make nice break spots. We kept on trekking for the rest of the day. Eventually we made it to our first running stream and followed it for a couple miles. At one point we came across an old sluce mining operation, long abandon. We also were surprised by a mountain biker that rolled along with us for awhile chatting it up.
Here is where things get interesting. We had a climb out of the creek and decided to get water at a spring listed on the map a little way up. We got there and decided the spring was pretty nasty. Do we hike back or keep going another 4 miles to the next spring? Keep going and make some ground rules so this doesn't happen again... I say that as I'm dry camping almost out of water. As we walked to this promising spring we noticed the trail was built very well, built for 4 wheelers. The scenery was amazing so maybe they give tours out here?? We eventually make it to the spring and start celebrating, hooting and hollering. A few minutes later a guy walks up and asks if we're Joe and Josh, why yes we are. Doug was talking to Atlas a short distance away and they heard our celebrating. Doug came to say hi, Atlas went on. How Atlas got ahead of us will forever be a mystery... Or until he tells us. Anyway back to out new friend Doug.
Doug is a Catholic hermit, he's been living out here for 16 years. He started with a tent and has worked his way up to a very utilitarian cabin. There were a few previous hermitage locations around that he told us about and showed us where he lived for a year or so. He's created a garden in a place with no top soil by moving around dead trees, it's actually pretty amazing the things he's doing to try to get things to grow. He's very excited that the ranchers are going to have cows in the area this fall. He'll have unlimited manure. Doug showed, told us about and shared some pretty amazing things. We even learned how to make an agave sewing kit, AMAZING!! Every time we though we might take off there was something else to behold. We learned about the pits they used to cook the agave, very much like an artichoke. We learned that the amazing trails we walked on and noticed took him about 2500 hours to make by hand. He leaves once a year to get supplies and that's how he gets his quad out. As he put it God provides everything he needs and continues to do so. We had conversations about everything including the Catholic Monastery around the corner, they have some relations. After 3 hours he decided to walk us down the trail a couple miles telling us about this and that. He mentioned that he has a trail name, some previous hikers told him everyone on the trail had a trail name. Since he technically lives on the trail he gets a name, Highlight. It was the highlight of our day, actually the whole trip so far. We found out that we were hikers 135 and 136. He sweeps the trail every day and counts the foot prints. Consequently those are also our new trail names, I'm 136. We asked how many hikers he talks to and he admitted that he avoids most. We were probably the 10th contact he maked, most check out his garden and move on. If they even see it from the trail. Throughout the conversation he referenced some hikers that really had a good impression on him, also one that was injured and stayed out here for a couple days.
After a long awaited goodbye Joe and I zipped up a pretty steep climb and dry camped on a flat ridge. I typed this until 1030 and called it a night. I'm finishing it at Doc Campbell's.