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La Ventura Rim Trail, NM


We crossed the lava of El Malpais and camped on the Rim Trail near La Ventana, a natural arch. Right as we crawled into our sleeping bags for the night, we heard a gunshot go off–RIGHT NEXT TO OUR TENT. We packed up quickly and booked out of there. Unfortunately, the gunshot sounded like it was coming from the trail, but there was an alternate trail for that section along a highway. So we jumped on the highway even though I feared walking in the dark along a narrow shoulder. I also feared that the shooter would be in a truck on the highway and could easily find us by following the headlamps bobbing along the road. A car passed us, and then it turned around right by us. Someone saw our headlamps. It had to be the shooter coming back for us. Ready to run for it into the shrubland, we watched the car pull up right by us. “We were so worried about you!” the driver called out. It was the Mumms–trail angels from Grants who saved our kitten the day before! They gave us a ride back to Grants and we had two real meals and a shower before hitting the trail again!

Liz "Snorkel" Thomas

Liz Thomas is a well-traveled adventure athlete most known for breaking the women’s unsupported speed record on the Appalachian Trail in 2011. She has completed the Triple Crown of Hiking–the Appalachian Trail, the 2,650 mile Pacific Crest Trail, and 3,100 mile Continental Divide Trail–and has backpacked over 15,000 miles across the United States. While not on trail, Liz lives in Denver, Colorado.