People I met on the way - New Mexico


This is a “visitors’ book” of the people I met on my travels: inhabitants of villages and ranches, hikers and holidaymakers, course mates, etc. we shared a few hours or days, smiles and laughter, our stories, and they helped me on my way. These encounters were part of the rich experience of my trip and I would like to pay tribute to them here. 




Irene Weis (Yorkville, Illinois)

"I live in Yorkville, Illinois, on a small, 4-hectare farm. My husband Paul and I have a team of two mules (brothers). I came to Queen Valley Mule Ranch to buy a mule from Steve Edwards. There I met Krystèle, a French woman who had also come to the ranch to buy a mule for her adventure on the CDT. During the two weeks of my stay we spent a lot of time together, sharing dinner, training, and looking after the mules. We went to the Grand Canyon together. I really enjoyed meeting Krystèle and wish my new friend all the best. I hope that one day we will get to see each other again.

God bless you, Irene."



Joe Senz (right) and
John Gonzales (left)

Joe was my host on the eve of my departure, in Silver City, at the ranch that he runs south of the Gila Forest reserve. He takes riders on hikes in the reserve and raises their awareness about protecting the environment and Apache Indian traditions. John is also a blacksmith farrier and has worked in ranches for years. He came out to help me at the end of my second day on the trail, when Céline the mule lost her first shoe, and he gave all of her horseshoes a complete check over. Both Joe and John have Apache roots.  




I met Toby at the Gila Hot Springs campsite on my way back from the troglodyte houses. He had just finished two days of intensive hiking. Toby travelled the Pacific Crest Trail a few years ago and is preparing to do the CDT next year. He is the first “thru-hiker” (i.e. travelling the whole trail) that I met on my travels! We spent a pleasant evening together discussing hiking, Franco-American culture, and parallel stories from the “Coast to Coast” program he likes to listen to.




John Kunkel


It was nice to meet a human being after Lake Snow, which is desolate, cold and windy at this time of year. John lives in Seattle and is semi-retired. He was on a 6-week jeep trip through New Mexico. I enjoyed tucking into his cooking and fresh vegetables.




Dan and Emily Kercher (Highway 12)

Dan and his granddaughter Emily took me in with Céline when we got caught in a snowstorm and had taken refuge under their porch. We spent a warm afternoon by the stove, and Emily showed me her “coffee shop” and prepared me make-believe cups of coffee. I stayed with them until the next morning. Céline was delighted to spend the afternoon and night with their elegant black horse.



James Stephens
(trail name Ofie Toby) – met in Pie Town


I met James and his pick-up on the trail leading to Pie Town. He had set off on a 6-week bike trip, but had to stop on the first day when he ran into bad weather. He was continuing his holiday in a pick-up. A hiking enthusiast, he helps hikers by setting up water caches. I really appreciated his help when I couldn’t find water for Céline the day before I arrived in Pie Town, then further north when he left water bottles on the path for me. We camped together and spent a lovely evening at Nina’s Toaster House in the company of Jim and Nina. 


"I was just goin' down the road, bee-boppin, heading for my favorite camping place when...
There she was just a-walkin' down the street, singin' "Do wah diddy diddy dum diddy do"
Snappin' her fingers and shufflin' her feet, singin' "Do wah diddy diddy dum diddy do"
She looked good (looked good), she looked fine (looked fine)
She looked good, she looked fine and I nearly lost my mind
So natch' I stopped to say hello and the next thing I know I'm calling people, running messages, and
fetching water for a mule, cooking supper, and all kinds of things.
Whoa-oh, I knew I was losin' my mind
Now I'm so happy and that's how I'm gonna stay, singin' "Do wah diddy diddy dum diddy do".
Seriously, I was happy to help because you made it so easy and fun.
Happy Trails to you!
Until we meet again.
Ofie Toby
p.s. lyrics by Manfred Mann, modified by me"

(Trail name: Love-It Or Leave-It) – met in Pie Town


Jim was the first other hiker that I met on the CDT. He was travelling about one day’s distance behind me and he caught up with me when I arrived in Pie Town. We met up at Nina’s Toaster House, then Jim set off the next day for Grants, while I spent a day resting.

Jim wants to become a “triple crown”: a hiker who has finished the Appalachian Trail, the Pacific Crest Trail and the Continental Divide Trail, the longest three hiking trails in the USA.




Nina (Pie Town)

Nina has left her former home (Toaster's House) as a refuge for hikers and cyclists passing through. It’s a haven of peace for resting and sharing adventures with other travelers.



Michel (Pie Town)

Michel spent an unusual childhood in France until he was 18. His mother was the resistant, painter and American spy, Ione Robinson, who was assassinated in the 1980s in Paris. She frequented a circle of intellectuals, artists and political activists whom Michel knew as a child.  



Kathy and Stan Knapp (Pie Town)


Cathy and her husband run the Pie-O-Neer restaurant in Pie Town, selling (you guessed it) pies. They let my mule graze in their field behind the restaurant and let me use their Internet for two days to update my website, send emails and chat on Skype.

Check out their website:




Thomas (Pie Town)





Carol and Hugo (Grants)

Carole and Hugo were my hosts for 3 days and helped me considerably with my “mule” logistics. They adopted Céline, along with their 15 cats, 2 dogs and the birds that fill their house. Each year they provide lodging for around 70 hikers traveling the CDT from north to south. They also fill up the water caches in the Grants area on the driest parts of the trail.  



Ross and Cyndie (Grants)


Ross is a saddler and he repaired a cinch that was on the point of breaking. He also transported Céline from the veterinary centre at the start of the trail to avoid the tiresome journey across the town of Grants. His partner Cyndie gave me a piece of fur coat, which was very useful for protecting Céline’s skin from rubbing.  




Marie-Jo (Albuquerque)

Marie-Jo drove me from Cuba to Albuquerque and put me in touch with a whole network of people (including Paula) involved in the world of horses, mules and donkeys.



 Paula and her husband Gerard (Albuquerque)


I met Paula in Cuba (that’s the town in New Mexico, not the island), and she was really enthusiastic about my adventure. It was Paula who found Frog for me when I was looking for a pack mule, and took her from Silver City to Cuba. She was also the one who discovered Kitty when I lost Céline in an accident. Paula suggested that I should go and see Champ in Salida when Kitty had to give up the trip following an injury. Since meeting me, Paula has become a mule specialist! Her ranch is an animal refuge and she is an expert in special diets for horses. I saw Paula again in Colorado when she came to fetch Kitty from Creede to take her back to Albuquerque, becoming her happy owner.

At the end of the trip, I met up with Paula in Montana and together, with the mules that she bought from me, we travelled down to her home in Albuquerque.




Claudia (Cuba)


Claudia, along with Paula, was crucial to helping me fit Frog into the team. Her trade is to trim barefoot horses, and she also trains horses. She looked after Céline for a week in her ranch in Cuba, while I went to Santa Fe to bring back Frog, and then helped me train Frog for her new job.




Maud (Santa Fe)

I met Maud on the courses I took on The Four Toltec Agreements and the Woman’s Way, and I stayed with her in Sante Fe, where she took me round town to shop and show me the charming adobe houses. She came to join me with Karl, François-Marie and Eva at Ghost Ranch and took me to visit some other canyons in this magnificent region



Carl (Santa Fe)

Carl helped me with various logistics and gave me valuable help when I stayed in the Santa Fe area, about how to live in the wild and how to think out my trip. We spent a lovely day together in Ghost Ranch.


 Francois marie

François-Marie Patorni
(Santa Fe)


"I met Krystèle through Maud, who emailed me about her adventure. Until recently, I’d had two mules, two horses and four donkeys in my ranch close to Santa Fe, so travelling with one (or several) mules struck me as a wonderful idea! Mules are the ‘4-wheel drives’ of the horse world; they work their legs independently and are really intelligent (you can’t force a mule to charge a line of muskets in a battle). We spent a great day together in Ghost Ranch. I wish Krystèle a great trip.”


To find out more about François-Marie’s favorite subject:



Hike-on (trail name), Jim and Gary


I met these three walkers at Ghost Ranch, and we hiked together for three days from the ranch to Hopewell Lake. I enjoyed the time I spent with them and in particular their enthusiasm for life, their humor and the spontaneous solidarity between us. Hike-on and Jim are travelling the entire Continental Divide Trail, and Gary is hiking sections that he hasn’t done in the past. All three have already hiked the legendary Appalachian and Pacific Crest trails.

Gary’s travel blog:



Chris MASON (Victor, Idaho)


Chris, a horse rider on holiday with his horse Zef and his dog Toto, was camping not far from me at Hopewell Lake when Céline’s accident occurred. He put down Céline when I asked him to, disposed of her remains with the greatest respect, and did everything he could to help me. We met up again in Salida (Colorado), where he helped me gain confidence with my new mule Champ. Chris was an advisor and precious support throughout my trip, without forgetting that memorable pistol-shooting session with Sarah close to Jack (Wyoming)!