Transcript: Podship Earth Episode 018: GHOST RANCH

JARED BLUMENFELD: Welcome to Podship Earth. This is your host, Jared Blumenfeld. This week my cousin, Yair and I endeavor to hike a 200-mile section along the Continental Divide Trail from Cuba, New Mexico, to the Colorado border. This entire trail system follows the spine of the Continental Divide from Mexico to Canada, and as we hiked, to our west, all the water drains to the Pacific Ocean and to the east, the water eventually gets to the Atlantic. Unlike the Pacific Crest Trail or the Appalachian trail, the Continental Divide Trail is largely unmarked, far from even small towns and extremely rugged. During our eight-day adventure, we didn't come across a single other hiker on the trail. There were trail angels that provided water at critically dry locations in the desert. They were much missed on this trail. My goal was to get away from it all and on this, the Continental Divide Trail certainly delivered. The scenery was stunning and the animals on the trail acted like they'd never even seen a human. I'm so glad that I had company, my cousin, Yair. He had been a paratrooper in the Israeli army and he was a fantastic hiking buddy in this hot demanding terrain. Here's President Johnson in 1965 establishing the national hiking trail system that led to the creation of the Continental Divide National Scenic Trail. 

 

PRESIDENT JOHNSON: When the day seemed particularly harsh and bitter, the land was always there, just as nature had left it, wild, rugged, beautiful, and changing. Always changing. Well, in recent years I think America has sadly neglected this part of America national heritage. 

 

JARED BLUMENFELD: Everyday, we recorded our Podship diary at the end of the day.  Sometimes we'd stop and record when we saw something cool. Okay. Here we go. So, we're in Cuba, New Mexico. The Del Prado motel. So, I'm here with my cousin Yair. He and he and I hiked on the PCT for a month together in Oregon, and we had a blast. So, we're doing it again now on the Continental Divide Trail. Are you excited to be back out? 

 

YAIR: Oh, I'm very excited. I am indoors most of the time. I run every day, but I am indoors. So yeah, I'm very excited. The desert is, you know, I grew up in the desert, so I feel comfortable here. I love it and I can't wait to be on the trail. 

 

JARED BLUMENFELD: Where did you grow up? 

 

YAIR: I grew up in Israel. I was actually born in Sinai, which is the southern tip of the Negev desert in Israel. We're carrying everything on us, so this is unsupported. Everything is on us except water, so eight days of food is pretty heavy.

 

JARED BLUMENFELD: We got a little motel room and we start in the morning.  So, after a long day on the Continental Divide Trail, we untangled all the wires and recorded this.  Literally, we left the town of Cuba, New Mexico, and then it was just like literally up, up, up. So, it went from six and a half thousand feet to 10 and a half thousand feet. So, I got like, I haven't got altitude sickness in a long time. Now we're sitting in a really great campsite. It's been a beautiful day actually and we just put our tents up next to us next to a spring. The spring is really beautiful, and water is incredible.  You don't need to filter it. All the flowers are out -lupine, roses. Even just around us right now, a little wild rose bush. I had a hard time focusing my mind because I was just so fucking tired today. 

 

YAIR: Like as you crossed the ridge, looking to the horizon, it was amazing. So, it's great. 

 

JARED BLUMENFELD: Day one, we did twenty-one or twenty-two miles. 

 

YAIR: Twenty-two miles I think.

 

 JARED BLUMENFELD: That’s not a bad, day one. Do we even know where we're going tomorrow? 

 

YAIR: No idea. I know we're doing 25 miles, but I have no idea exactly where. We'll figure it out. Oh yeah, we crossed some beautiful meadows and we saw two big deer over there. The meadows were amazing, flat, soft grass. 

 

JARED BLUMENFELD: How long have you been thinking about getting out here?

 

YAIR: I mean we talked about it when we were on the PCT 18 months ago, when was that, almost a year and a half ago? So, my wife was pregnant… 

 

JARED BLUMENFELD: And so, we decided on the Continental Divide Trail. So, the Continental Divide Trail is like the Pacific Crest Trail and the Appalachian Trail. 

 

YAIR: No, this is perfect. 

 

JARED BLUMENFELD: So maybe we should get an early start if tomorrow we're going to do 25 miles. 

Day 2 was a challenging. We got lost and ran out of water.  Today was a pretty intense day in the desert. 

But you seem really at home. You seem to like it. What’d you like about the desert?       

                                     

YAIR: The landscape, the temperature, the dryness. 

 

JARED BLUMENFELD: So hot today. 

 

YAIR: It was very hot. Yes, but it's fine. I prefer that over snow. 

 

JARED BLUMENFELD: What about when we ran out of water? 

 

YAIR: We found water eventually. I was sure we're going to find it. So, it was hard, yes. Yes, the map was completely wrong, and we went the wrong way and we were looking for water for two hours and it was like right under our nose. So eventually we found it. I think you were happier than me. 

 

JARED BLUMENFELD: I was ecstatic. I was so fucking thirsty. I thought it was going to die. The heat, the altitude, the altitude sickness really kicked in for me. So, I was just like completely fucking delirious. 

 

YAIR: I’m used to it. I wouldn't say it was easy. It wasn't easy at all. And we were climbing, I mean the beginning of the day in the morning we climbed what, 2000 feet? Remember the steep part? It was crazy.        

 

JARED BLUMENFELD: Most of the day I was just like surviving.

 

YAIR: Surviving.

 

JARED BLUMENFELD: Yeah. I mean not really surviving but attempting to survive.

 

YAIR: Only mentally. Struggling. 

 

JARED BLUMENFELD: I've never had altitude sickness. It sucks. 

 

YAIR: Yeah. I've had altitude sickness. I was in South America 20 years ago and we did a lot of mountain climbing in the Andes and I've had mountain sickness and altitude sickness and it's hard psychologically. 

 

JARED BLUMENFELD: It feels like a sickness. 

 

YAIR: They're saying the only cure is to go down and we are going down. 

 

JARED BLUMENFELD: Yeah, not down quick enough. But the water, it added a lot of weight to our packs. Our packs are heavy.    

 

YAIR: But you brought it together with what? Five pounds of chocolate almonds?

 

JARED BLUMENFELD: I’m fucking throwing these chocolate almonds away. And you're like..

 

YAIR: “What are you doing? I'll eat them.” So, I ate a few, but still you'll had like three pounds of chocolate almonds in your backpack. Last time we hiked together on the PCT, before the hike we met at this house, right? And Jared made me take out all my stuff out of my backpack and went through everything and threw out, literally threw out like half of the stuff I had in my backpack. So, I was terrified before coming here about weight. And I weighed my backpack like 10 times and got rid of maybe half of my food. Didn't bring my flip flops or anything because I was like, if I bring something, Jared is going to throw it away and I need it.

 

JARED BLUMENFELD: Day three in which we got lost again and found the Ghost Ranch. We got lost twice today. Getting lost is, seems like we do a pretty good job at that. The GPS kept saying that we were on the trail and then by the time we got to the end of the river, it was like 10 feet deep. Boiling.

 

YAIR: Rapids that there was no way we can cross. So, we went back, it took about an hour and a half, we found where we were, and we went back on the trail. 

 

JARED BLUMENFELD: But it was like 95 degrees, just blistering heat. 

 

YAIR: We were on the road. Right? So, the ground was so hot too, and Jared was walking behind me with his sunbrella. Sunbrella. 

 

JARED BLUMENFELD: I got to say anyone who ever wants to hike in the desert, if you don't have a sunbrella, which is basically a silver umbrella on the outside so, it reflects all the UV and then black on the inside. It's a fucking lifesaver. I'd be dead. Yair, he grew up in the fucking desert. Me, I grew up in England.

 

YAIR: But it was hot. 

 

JARED BLUMENFELD: And then I was like, I'm just going to sit by the shade of this tree and die. So, then we get picked up by this cool guy, David.

 

YAIR: Who was a pastor, right? I mean he looked to me like some navy seal or something, big bald guy. 

 

JARED BLUMENFELD: To me it was like a sign that I should convert to Christianity because this guy had come from a monastery. He was a pastor and he picked us up just at our moment of greatest need. 

 

YAIR: But I think it was his sign to convert to Judaism, and Jared kept cranking up the AC in the car. 

 

JARED BLUMENFELD: Oh my God. It was like literally being picked up by a pastor and going to heaven. Like the AC was so fucking cold and nice. I just couldn't get enough of it. So, our destination, like on the map was the Ghost Ranch, which is where Georgia O'Keeffe, the artist, lived for most of her life. Georgia O'Keeffe's paintings - the poppies, Jimson weed, cow skulls, red hills and bones have come to define the southwest. She fell in love with New Mexico in 1929 and lived on the Ghost Ranch until she died in 1986 at the age of 99. O'Keeffe's painting of a white flower number one recently sold for $44 million dollars. Here's Ms. O'Keeffe talking about how she dealt with the elements at Ghost Ranch. 

 

GEORGIA O’KEEFE: I've been hearing all kinds of weather. I've worked out here in the wind when the wind blew so that if I got off my chair it would blow away. I don't know how I kept my picture on the easel, but I've painted onto here when it was very windy. On the other side, there's a strip of color. You don't see it because it's in shadow now, but there's a strip of pink, red and yellow. It goes all along over a very long way that I've put in at the foot of my hill. 

 

INTERVIEWER: Didn't it get pretty hot here? 

 

GEORGIA O’KEEFE: Well, it’s usually been hot when I'm over here and sometimes the Indians would be - there's a bunch of trees down there. The Indians would be under the trees and there wasn't any place for me to be in the shade, but under the car. After I did my lunch, I worked in the car usually, but if you wanted to be out of the sun, you lay under the car and that isn't a very nice place. Better than nothing though. The cliffs over there, you look at it and it's almost painted for you, you think, until you try. I tried to paint what I saw. I thought someone could tell me how to paint landscape, but I never found that person. I had to just settle down and try. I thought someone could tell me how, but I found nobody could. They could tell you how they painted their landscape, but they couldn't tell me to paint mine. It's especially fine place to climb around in. 

 

INTERVIEWER: Have you climbed over these? 

 

GEORGIA O’KEEFE: Certainly, wouldn't you? Wouldn't you climb if you were here?

 

JARED BLUMENFELD: Leaving Ghost Ranch, our adventure quickly resumed.                   

 

YAIR: So, before we knew it we were climbing some pretty serious, you know, hills or mountains, and at one point, Jared fell and broke his hiking pole. So, we've been hiking for twelve and a half hours, minus the one and a half hour or one hour, let’s say that we were at the ranch. 

 

JARED BLUMENFELD: I was just like, fuck this. I have hard enough weeks. So, like when we planned this, I 

wanted like a nice, cool, you know, climate wise, cool, beautiful stroll, hike. This was like the worst part of the PCT. My mouth was like fucking cotton balls. 

 

YAIR: Jared was like, I'm not going anywhere. I think we're just going to wait for the bus and go to Chama, which is an hour and a half north of us, close to the Colorado border. 

 

JARED BLUMENFELD: Because I thought it'd be cool. I mean it's like 12,000 feet. It would be cool. But the more I looked into it, the more I was like, you know what, if this place is good enough for Georgia O'Keeffe, it must be good enough for me. So, we kept on hiking. 

 

YAIR: Jared has a tendency of forcing the map. 

 

JARED BLUMENFELD: What does “forcing the map” mean? 

 

YAIR: So, “forcing the map,” when I was in the military in Israel, we had a term of “forcing the map” and means you convince yourself that you are somewhere where you are not.  You're like, I am right over here on the map, but it's not even close to where you are. So, we did that a lot today, “forcing the map” until we were like, okay, let's just follow the trail on the river and we'll get there. 

 

JARED BLUMENFELD: I mean life generally, I think people force the map. They think they’re somewhere they’re not, and they just keep telling themselves, “I am here, I am here.”

YAIR: And they look for reinforcement clues to convince you that you are right and everything you see is a sign. The first rule of orienteering or hiking is you just go back to the last place you know where you were, and we didn't do it today. We just kept going and going and going, believing that we're going to get there. 

 

JARED BLUMENFELD: Tomorrow morning will be great, and then like at eleven, it'll just be blistering again. 

 

YAIR: Yeah. So, I mean I was thinking maybe we should plan on starting early and taking a break during the hot hours. You know, taking that two-hour break in the middle. We can work on getting lost a little bit less.

 

JARED BLUMENFELD: Day four in which we drink a lot of water, not fit for animals. We turn around the corner and we see the water source that's on the map and tell us what it looked like.

 

YAIR: So, we see a little pond, I don't know, maybe twenty feet in diameter, and it's like surrounded by cow poop and mud and like all sorts of stuff inside, and on top of all of it, there was a dead cow right next to the water. I mean, it's been eaten already, but there's a little bit of stuff on the bones, and it's just there. 

 

JARED BLUMENFELD: I mean this was like our only, we didn't have a choice, right? We had to get the water because the next one was like four miles.

 

YAIR: Right. I didn't want to get the water there. I mean I was like, I'm going to wait and see what Jared is doing. I mean, I don't want to get water there. I’d rather walk another four hours without water then trying this.

 

JARED BLUMENFELD: So, I get the water. I walk out, there's a little plank, and I walk out onto that. So, I come back and I'm like filtering it, and I'm like, dude, are you not getting water? He's like…

 

YAIR: I'm like, I don't think so. I don't want to even say what it looks like. And so, Jared got water, I tasted it, it tasted okay. And then I got water too. So. And we had water. 

 

JARED BLUMENFELD: We had just enough water to get to the next place which was on the map, which was like seven miles.

 

YAIR: Which when we got there we saw was not much better than the first one. 

 

JARED BLUMENFELD: Yeah, no, this one, the cows were actually drinking from it. Okay. So then kept going, keep going, keep going, keep going. 

 

YAIR: And what I see on the trail is basically a pond, a puddle inside tire marks. So, these are tire marks of like a tractor or something that drove here, and inside the tire marks there is a puddle and that's the water source. I mean you can imagine like how many mosquitoes and mud and like some other weird stuff there was in it.

 

JARED BLUMENFELD: And it was like six inches deep. 

 

YAIR: And I look at Jared and I'm like, the next one is three and a half miles.  It’s 7:00 PM. I just sat down and waited, and Jared went on this expedition. Jared walked up about half a mile and then I hear a shout, good scouting by Jared, and we found a little source of water with, you know, flowing water. So, I figured that he's calling me to get the bottles or the water bags or something. 

 

JARED BLUMENFELD: So, we had three water experiences today. When you haven't had water all day, it just becomes so precious. 

 

YAIR: Right? I mean I was thinking about when we think about when we were filling the bottles tonight, like how careful we are with every drop that is going in the bottle as if it's gold. For me, the biggest lesson is not to panic. I 

 

JARED BLUMENFELD: I mean, I didn't ever feel panicked in the day, but I did feel just so drained, so weak, you know. 

 

YAIR: We worked very well together and it's good being with a partner that knows what he's doing. And here we are.

 

JARED BLUMENFELD: So, tell us about how many people you've seen on the trail?

 

YAIR: Zero so far. We've been on the trail for four days. We haven't seen a single soul. 

 

JARED BLUMENFELD: So, the funniest thing is Yair met this guy at the Ghost Ranch, and Yair asked him, “so, what's it, what's it like the next 20-mile stretch?” And what did he tell you? 

 

YAIR: It's flat. It's cool. And there is lots of water. We climbed 4,000 feet since yesterday, so that's his flat. We haven't seen any water. That's his plenty of water and it's been 92 degrees. That's his cool. So, thank you for this gentleman that gave us instructions in the Ghost Ranch. It's been amazing.

 

JARED BLUMENFELD: We’re just sitting right now on this bluff overlooking aspen trees all around us. And the sun's just setting and it's glistening against the bark. Yeah, there's irises, wild irises everywhere, birds, an amazing sunset. And we just ate - I had Thai curry. What did you have? 

YAIR: Lentils and cous cous. 

 

JARED BLUMENFELD: So, we're eating like champions. Day five in which we finally find clean water. Amazing, right? So, we’re here by a beautiful stream after days of just the worst water ever, just pools of, puddles of crap. We're next to an absolutely stunning little stream.

 

YAIR: And we're going to refill our bottles with amazing water. 

 

JARED BLUMENFELD: What are you doing? 

YAIR: I'm putting my water… I just found a nice spot where I can put my water in, kind of like an angle where I can fill it up. So, I'm putting it in. 

 

JARED BLUMENFELD: It looks actually clear enough that we don't need to filter it. What do you think? 

 

YAIR: We absolutely don't need to filter. This is amazing water. Better than any tap water, I would say, anywhere in the United States. 

 

JARED BLUMENFELD: Very cold too.

 

YAIR: Cold and fresh. Amazing. You want to try? 

 

JARED BLUMENFELD: Yeah. Hmm. Nothing better than getting water from a stream.

 

YAIR: Oh my God, this is the best. Hiking for me is about being in the unpredictable. My day to day life is very predictable, very organized, with a very simple routine. We live in New Jersey. My wife and I - my wife is Jared's cousin, by the way - we live in New Jersey, we have two children and our day to day is very simple. We drop the kids in school, I go running, I come back, I work from home, I cook. We pick up the kids and that's pretty much the same thing every day. And to me hiking as about having something different every day, not knowing what to expect after the next turn, not knowing where we're going to get water later. So that's what's hiking is to me about the unpredictability. I also run long races. So, going into a marathon or going into an ultra-marathon is the same feeling for me. You don't know what to expect even if you ran the same race a few times before. And I think that it took us four days to understand where we are and be better at predicting what we need and be better about knowing where we are. So, I feel this is maybe, you know, the first day that we are at our element. I feel that today was the first day that we are in sync with nature. We know where we're going. We carry enough water. We had good conversations and here we are waiting for our apple cobbler to be ready.

 

JARED BLUMENFELD: This is like the most elaborate. My daughter Anya and I make apple cobbler all the time, and you put apples in, you make the pastry, it works really great. This thing, which came from a packet, has taken 40 minutes already to concoct.

YAIR: With 40 steps which will be ready soon. It looks like an apple cobbler that somebody already ate. For me, for some reason, physical effort often requires some sort of a food reward at the end. I mean, I don't know why, but even on my long runs or when I race, my motivation many times is food. So, my motivation for this hike is that huge burrito either in Chama or in Santa Fe where Jared promised me he will take me to. 
 

JARED BLUMENFELD: Day six in which we get into the groove of being long distance hikers and arm chair psychologists. We’re right next to little babbling brook. It’s pretty sweet. So, you were saying on the trail that someone that doesn't have roots in life becomes kind of, it's a difficult thing to not have roots. What did that mean?

 

YAIR: Sometimes people that are having a hard time finding their identity, knowing who they are, don’t have roots connected to something in the past, something that grounds them. They keep trying to get reinforcements from the outside to who they want to be, and they can be very aggressive sometimes or angry when they don't get the reinforcements they need.

 

JARED BLUMENFELD: For me, it is a struggle. It's not easy to know who you are. Everyone assumes you must know who you are. But getting rid of all the societal bullshit like what your parents think you should do, all the neurotic cramp, is hard. For me, being in nature just strips away all that bullshit and you are left with who you are. That's why some people I think have a really hard time in nature because it's just so exposing. 

 

YAIR: Oh yeah, I agree. I mean nature is exposing, especially hiking. It is very alone. You have a lot of time to think and doubt and talk to yourself. 

 

JARED BLUMENFELD: So how much time do you think you think about when you're walking the destination versus the journey?

 

YAIR: I try to be in the journey, especially when we walk such long distances in nature, but I do have the tendency to focus on the destination. In life in general, and also in hiking, whether it's the end of the day or the end of the hike when we ended in Colorado. So, as much as I try to be in the journey, I find myself sometimes focused on the destination too much maybe. 

 

JARED BLUMENFELD: You’re a marathon runner, so you spend a lot of time preparing for the marathons, running every day. 

 

YAIR: For me, training, running is not very enjoyable in the moment. I've been running for so many years, hundreds of miles a month. It's painful in the moment, but the overall experience is what is satisfying to me. To complete a training plan, to finish a race, to subscribe for the next race, that that's what's rewarding for me. And I find that as soon as I have something on the calendar, my volume picks up, my intensity picks up, my motivation picks up because there is something on the calendar that says that in three and a half months I have a race. What about you? How do you feel about the journey versus destination?

 

JARED BLUMENFELD: Well, on the PCT, the thing that I discovered is that if I only focused on finishing, I never would. And if I didn't focus on finishing enough, I would never finish. So, it's that balance between if all I did was think about the moment, I wouldn't have the stamina or the concentration or the drive that you describe by putting something on a calendar. So, when I started the PCT, I wrote a little diary of how much I was thinking about journey versus destination, and really journey for me is just being present, right? Being in the moment, not thinking about the past or the future, but just thinking, wow, this is an amazing moment to be alive. And it was so hard for me to get there. So, I started I think being generous to myself - like five percent present, 95 percent distracted, mainly about the future, destination goals - where I'm going to camp and I'm going to get water.  And then by the end I got to where 55 percent of the focus was on the moment and it has to be like for me, the teeniest little sound, the smell. It's not the big panoramas necessarily. It's just focusing on where you are at that moment. So, I would've thought in nature is really easy to get back into that. But today was the first day, day six, that I feel like I could even be present.

 

YAIR: Maybe that's why you got lost today. Right? How did it feel? 

 

JARED BLUMENFELD: I mean, I loved getting lost because there was nothing at stake. I knew I'd find my way back. I was just walking along a river and.. I mean for me daydreaming, which I do a lot, isn't being present, it's another… it's not present, not future or past or…then you came up behind me the other day and I just jumped. 

 

YAIR:I thought you were faking it. I thought you were aware of that. I'm was there, and I called your name and you're like, whoa, I'm like right here. 

 

JARED BLUMENFELD: You got two young kids, real sweethearts and another one on the way. But when Daphna and Avehu, who wanted to go and get some toys at the local Toys “R” Us –

 

YAIR: We are Israeli. We speak Hebrew at home and sometimes our kids pronounce English words differently. So, for years, we were not correcting them because we thought it's very cute. They call Toys “R” Us, Toys Are Ass. They didn't like the idea that the toy store is closing. 

 

JARED BLUMENFELD: And why is it closing? 

 

YAIR: It’s the Amazon effect. Everybody is buying on Amazon and the stores are going out of business. This was one of the triggers for me to decide to buy less on Amazon. I just started talking to my aunt and said, what happens if they close the supermarket because everybody's going buying their groceries on Amazon? So yeah, I'm buying less on Amazon.

 

JARED BLUMENFELD: Day seven, super windy, our last full day, the beginning of the end.

 

YAIR: Our last day. We passed our highest point for the hike, right? What was it? 

 

JARED BLUMENFELD: 11,000.

 

YAIR: It was 11,000 feet and the wind was just unbelievable. And I mean, it wouldn’t stop. So, this was quite an experience. 

 

JARED BLUMENFELD: I loved the wind. Even though it was hot, the wind cooled us down and most of the time the wind was pushing us in the right direction. That time I was really cruising. I was like, I'm ready.

YAIR: I stopped to go to the bathroom and Jared was just flying. Usually, I don't have a problem catching up with him, but today, yeah, the wind was pushing Jared, filling up his sails and pushing him forward, so – 

 

JARED BLUMENFELD: You can hear it right now actually, right around us.

 

YAIR: Yeah, we're in a campsite in a forest, also high up. Probably close to 11,000, maybe 10, 500. 

 

JARED BLUMENFELD: I'm sad because it's been so fun to hang out with you and to hang out in nature and tomorrow I get neither. So, you had a wildlife experience today? 

 

YAIR: Oh yeah. So, coming out of the woods about three or four hours ago, I saw a beautiful coyote, which turned his head and looked at me. I guess he was maybe 100 meters away and made a beautiful jump into a creek and ran down. I've never seen a coyote, so this was my first, and yeah, it was pretty amazing. It was cool. I have a question. You seemed irritated or impatient or angry for the past few hours until we got to camp. What happened? 

 

JARED BLUMENFELD: Every day, my blood sugar goes down around five, and I'm a hangry person, the minute I get hungry. We probably burned 500 calories a day, right? And we probably consumed a maximum of 2000 and the first few days I was doing 1000 calories a day. So, my blood sugar, even at home, if I haven't eaten fruit or something in the evening, I'm a horrible person to be around. So, you're just finding out who I am. And the wind somehow, when it's in your face and it's just battering you over and over again, it takes a little bit of your stuffing out.  Here, when you know you're not on the path, sometimes you think you're on the path, but you're not. And in life in general, it's really hard to work out if you're on the path. The nice thing about hiking in nature is that the path -you're either on it or you're not. I kind of love that. 

 

YAIR: Yeah, it makes it, in some ways it makes it easy. Like we're walking on a path and that's where you need to be. You don't need to think about anything else. So, it makes it easy. But you think about other stuff because you don't need to worry about where you are unless you get lost and you go back. But yeah, I agree. 

 

JARED BLUMENFELD: But what we've done better each day is look at where we think we are relative to the path, and so, we've been lost a lot less long. There's a learning curve to each hike and with eight days - we had all this weight with our food and we were going to be unsupported for eight days. Now we're at the end.  We have zero food, pretty light backpacks, and we’re much stronger. We know what we're doing. I'm ready to stay out for another two weeks. 

 

YAIR: Definitely. I was just thinking about it. I feel that both of us are now 100 percent comfortable out here. Like, this is nothing right? We eat, we camp, we get up, we go, you know. So absolutely, I think it took us three or four days to get to a real comfort level, both in where were we are going and how we're managing ourselves outdoors. But yeah, I mean that's why we're going to plan the next one. I'm going to miss everything. 

 

JARED BLUMENFELD: Okay. That's it for our last night on the trail.  Day eight in which we escape a forest fire and make it to Colorado. 

 

YAIR: I had a bit of a weird dream last night. We were camping somewhere, and we woke up in the morning surrounded by fire.

 

JARED BLUMENFELD: And then this morning, we both woke up pretty early. It was freezing. Been a pretty windy night and then we looked out, and I'm like, it's kind of smoky. We go out to the lookout point, and there’s smoke all around us. It's pretty hard to breathe right now. 

 

YAIR: Yeah. We're walking up north towards the Colorado border.

 

JARED BLUMENFELD: Racing, because we don't want to get caught in whatever it is. I think we'll make it out. It's kind of scary. Tell us what we see around us. 

YAIR: Lots of fallen dead trees, lots of dry trees too, which is probably not a good sign. 

 

JARED BLUMENFELD: They look dead actually. 

 

YAIR: They are dead. A lot of dead, dry trees. Yeah, so we are heading north. 

 

JARED BLUMENFELD: Okay. So, we managed to make it out of the forest fires, managed to make it to Chama, then take buses and all kinds of transportation through the blazing desert to Santa Fe. We had an amazing time in Santa Fe, and now of course, at the end, we end up at the airport. But poor Yair’s flight is canceled. But you're looking like a cowboy. 

 

YAIR: We went shopping yesterday. I got myself new cowboy boots, a shirt, a pair of jeans. So, the real Santa Fe experience. 

 

JARED BLUMENFELD: Tell us about the boots. They look awesome. 

 

YAIR: They're awesome. Yeah, brown boots, real leather. 

 

JARED BLUMENFELD: They're like a thousand dollars boots you got in a secondhand store. 

 

YAIR: Everything we got at secondhand store. So, Jared got a set too, no boots but boots for Alex, which is good enough. 

 

JARED BLUMENFELD: Red boots for Alex for our wedding anniversary. It's been a really awesome time Yair. Thank you so much for making it happen. 

 

YAIR: Thank you. Jared. It's been amazing. It was unbelievable. Definitely an experience, and we'll do it again. 

 

JARED BLUMENFELD: Thank you to Yair for putting up with me and for Alex for giving me the space to go hiking for so long. Also, a big thank you to all the volunteers that maintain the Continental Divide Trail and who are starting to put up signs. I was amazed at the number of emotions and the speed with which they came and went on the trail. One minute, I felt like I couldn't go on, the next I was ready to hike another five miles. By day six, I felt like I'd become fully reacquainted with an old friend - nature. She isn't always the easiest friend to get to know. She can be extremely demanding, but through our days together, I became much more grounded and present. I already miss the trail a great deal. The nice part of section hiking the trail, is that there’s still another 2,800 miles left to complete.  What I took away from this week's episode is how valuable nature can be in helping hit the reset button. I came back feeling so much lighter, both physically and emotionally. Next week, we examine how your zip code has a bigger impact on determining the health of your life and how long you will live than your genetic code. If you have time, please review the show on Apple's Podship Earth page. Thank you so much for being part of the Podship Earth journey. From the entire Podship Earth crew, sound engineer Rob Spate, producer Nancy Ferranti, executive producer David Kahn, and from me, Jared Blumenfeld, happy trails.