I didn’t manage to get to sleep until after 1am, but I still managed to jump out of bed and get the coffee started at 5:30. Bathroom time and my last shower for 5 days wasn’t done until 6:10. And despite having to fill my water bag, wolf down “breakfast,” and panic briefly over where my wallet was (already in my pack), I made it down to the lobby well before the shuttle was leaving.
The later part of the Gayheart family was already there, so I met Doug and his daughter Jess who were starting their first long distance trail that day and therefore had no trail names.
The trip was 2.5 hours long to the monument, including a brief stop at the Hachita Store and at the first water box to leave another six gallon can. The road was in surprisingly good shape for being a dirt road to a wire fence with the border in the middle of nowhere. We were able to go 25 mph or better for much of it. But the only other vehicles were Border Patrol trucks and the van of Jerry from Biker Ranch coming back from a drop-off.
At the Crazy Cook Monument, there was a flurry of activity from all of us: taking pictures in every combination, stepping across the border to be able to say we really started from Mexico, and I had to reorganize my pack and dress and sunscreen for hiking. I was also starving and mixed up a proper breakfast smoothie to give me the energy to get started.
The Gayhearts and I started out together for the first three or four miles, just chatting. The trail was basically a flat plain and, aside from the beautiful flowering Ocotillos we occasionally passed, not too exciting. The weather was great though.
We saw a jack rabbit next to the trail and walked through an old run down corral straight out of a Western. Jess collected four rocks in the first three miles. They found messages left by the half of the family that had come through earlier. But then it got hot and we split up. Soon I passed another guy out hiking as he was crawling under a bush. But I had read in the Guthook comments about a big tree a half mile ahead and kept walking.
I found the tree at noon, down from the trail in a dry wash. I ate lunch and then just laid down and napped until 2:30, moving when necessary to escape direct sunlight. It was only ever a light doze, but it helped with the lack of sleep I was suffering from and beat hiking in the hottest part of the day.
When I started again, I stayed in the wash and the trail came down to join me. It wasn’t long before I came to trees offering far better shade than the one I’d been under. Under one of them was the same man from before, who Jerry had dropped. He was from my neck of the woods in GA and working on finishing up his triple crown as well.
It was still hot, but there was a good bit of leapfrogging of him, me, and the Gayhearts throughout the afternoon. I would stop in a shady spot and Whitewater would join me and we’d leave together, or he’d go ahead and then stop and I’d pass him.
In the end, I reached the first water cache about 15 minutes before him. He decided to camp there while I decided to cook my Pad Thai and keep hiking. While I cooked and he made camp, eventually the Gayhearts arrived, intending to camp there as well. I started packing up.
Soon I noticed the hose had popped off my water bag and my pack was full of water. I had to refill the bag and dump all the water out before I could hike out into the sunset, and still the water dripped down my legs for the next mile.
I stopped when it was clear that I would need to pitch a tent under head lamp light if I went further and there happened to be a clear spot next to the trail. The wind was picking up as the sun set and setting up in the wind is hell, but there were plenty of rocks around to secure things.
I finally crawled inside the tent and laid down on top of the sleeping bag (still too hot to get inside) around 9pm. The wind vibrated the tent guy lines all night long but I was dead tired and hardly noticed.
Trail miles: 14.5