Today is 60 days since I broke the toe. It doesn't hurt at all, though it feels odd and stiff and will occasionally twinge if I step just the wrong way in hard shoes. It still doesn't look normal, though. It's only a little less swollen than in the second picture in my last blog.
But it's no longer stopping me from doing anything. In fact, two weeks ago I climbed to the highest point in the state of Texas! It was part of a trip north and west of here. I went to Guadalupe Mountains National Park-- a beautiful place if you're ever in the area; it's right next to Carlsbad Caverns and not far from White Sands National Monument, lots of National Forest land in New Mexico, El Paso and Las Cruces. It's also sort of on the way to/from Albuquerque, the Grand Canyon-- basically, if you're ever doing a Desert Southwest road trip, think about about adding GUMO. Just be aware that it's really isolated and there's no gas or food available in the park.
I took a decidedly weird route to get there. My main excuse for the trip was shopping in El Paso. My boots were pretty much worn out, so I went to El Paso first, spent a day shopping, and then drove back east to the park. I expected to get there before dark and have a short hike that night, but just as I left El Paso it started POURING rain and I had to drive 45 in 80mph zones most of the way there. A 2-hour drive took me over 4 hours. It was actually pretty scary driving blind through mountain passes! And by the time I got there, it was too late, too wet, and too dark to set up my tent, so I had to sleep on the seat of my truck.
Which reminded me that the last time I was there, 19 years ago, I also slept in a truck. I had gone with a friend at Spring Break, got there after dark, and the campground was full. The campsites have room for multiple tents, so if you're there early you can usually find someone who will share, but you can't wander around in the dark asking people without scaring them s**less. (And nowadays, without risking getting shot. It's no longer illegal to possess a gun in a national park; they sneaked that through in a credit card bill. Morons who think they can defend themselves against a bear with a handgun are allowed to try. So far there have been multiple self-inflicted gunshot wounds and two murders of Rangers, but no successful self defense attempts.)
Last time I went there, I was 45 pounds heavier than I am now. I did make it to the peak that time, but I was so exhausted I got sick. I always used to say, "I've been to the highest point in Texas, and I have thrown up on it."
So I did it again, and there was no vomit involved!
It did occur to me, though, that the last time might not have been entirely because of the exertion. It might have been partly nerves! There's one spot that's just terrifying, shortly before you get to the peak itself. This is what the trail looks like:
You have to step over that edge, onto a curved ledge about 2 feet wide with a sheer cliff on one side and a dropoff on the other. A few feet further along that ledge, there's a vein of harder stone that sort of flows across the trail so there's no flat surface to walk on; you have to crawl over this curved surface, still with a thousand-foot-plus drop on your left.
I had vague memories of something scary on that hike, but if I'd had any recollection of it being that terrifying, I never would have done it!