The PUP Chronicles, Part 5: You Can’t Always Get What You Want, But You’ll Get What You Need

The last installment of the PUP Chronicles (at least for 2020) is a compilation of 4 weekends spent in the Sacramento Mountains south of the town of Cloudcroft. I had multiple exploratory adventures lined up for us in the Gila, Pinos Altos, Gallina and other ranges of southwestern New Mexico, but a devastating fire season aggravated by delayed monsoons effectively canceled those plans beginning in early June; the smoke was heavy enough over that quadrant of the state that we’d be significantly limited in our hikes and not really even comfortable camping.

Turning to plans B and C we spent more time in Lincoln National Forest instead which allowed me to introduce Tom to places in the southern Sacramentos that Abbs and I had previously scoped out – in addition to getting to more hikes on my list. But to a greater degree than most of our previous PUP Chronicles these weekends allowed me to read. A lot. How so? Firstly, I selected dispersed camping sites based on proximity to where I thought we’d hike, cutting down on time driving. Second, we began decreasing our hiking time to 3 or 4 hours a day as both the temperatures rose and I grew more fatigued from the cumulative effects of work. But primarily, we simply made it a priority. I had begun craving the quiet time recharging in the woods that previous weekends had provided, observing that these time of rest began to rekindle my interest in absorbing new information and become more present – and I wanted more of it. I think Tom and Abby enjoyed the chill time too. Slow strolls, quiet nights, vista-sampling, and stargazing became our norm.

Though logging a solid 6 hours a day (or more) reading we did actually manage to rack up some miles under the fir, spruce, aspen, and pine at 9,000 feet – and I loved every minute of it, experiencing a familiar regeneration as I moved amidst the solace of the forest. Combined with the hours spent immersed in books while under the sun – undisturbed by phone service, internet, or other people – these walks were deeply rejuvenating.

As I mentioned, I did a lot of repeats as I introduced Tom to some of the most picturesque and interesting sections of the forest, but we did our far share of new explorations together. I used the 4 wheel drive on the truck as an excuse to get us into maybe one or two pickles, but we mostly stuck to less-challenging forest roads in our quest to knock some hikes off the list. The bulk of our walks were pretty low-key however, allowing us to experience the beauty and solace of the land at a relaxing pace. It was exactly what I needed.