CDT NM 1st Section

Day 9: Lordsburg

It was a bit cooler this morning so harder to get up. Nonetheless, the motivation was there to get going, and I was on the trail and going before sunrise.

The first few miles were along a road through the Pyramid Ranch. Even when the sun was just barely getting up, I dunked my arms in a tire trough once the cows cleared out enough to let me do so.

I stopped in the shade of a tree for my first morning snack and to apply sunscreen, then climbed up to the second Pyramid corral and watering hole. The cows seemed a bit more nervous and protective of this one, so I walked on.

At the electric Pyramid Well, I soaked my shirt and head, and from there it was just a couple more miles down to the fifth water cache box, now leaving the road and following a barbed wire fence.

I stopped for another snack break at the water cache, filled up on Starburst and water. The trail went back through the barbed wire fence (via turnstiles this time) and set out straight across the middle of the expanse between there and the road into town. There were a few key road walks, but a lot more hills to climb and washes to traverse. It was only 4 miles to town and I didn’t want to stop.

And I didn’t, except to occasionally spit water onto my sunward sleeve. The sun was getting high and hot but not as bad as previous days and the breeze was cool and continuous. Even when I lost the trail I didn’t lose much time and caught it again further down.

I made it to the Econolodge before noon and they already had a room clean and available, so I moved in immediately and got straight in the shower. After that, I brought my dirty clothes to the lobby and got everything cleaned for 5 bucks.

An hour later, I could put my going out clothes back on and cross the street to the Kranberry’s restaurant. I had some jalapeƱo bottle caps with ranch dip, a big beefy taco salad, and at least 3 glasses of root beer, plus a peach cobbler to go to have after dinner.

Back in the room, I started making preparations for the coming section, then went to the convenience store next door to get some supper for later. I realized I was low on Starburst in the resupply I had left at the hotel, so I bought a few bags at the Family Dollar.

The rest of the night, aside from eating dinner (with the family disappointing peach cobbler), was tied up in phone calls and other trivialities. I got most of the way packed, but it got very late and some would have to wait until morning.

The next day looked to be a scorcher. With a heavy full pack, it was not going to be a big hiking day.

Trail miles: 13.3

CDT NM 1st Section

Day 8: In the desert

I overslept and didn’t start walking until well after sunrise.

The first destination was the fourth water cache only 6 miles away. I had plenty of water still, and a large size breakfast smoothie. But the first part of the trail involved climbing steep hills in direct sunlight, so I stopped for a snack in the shade of a tree as soon as I made it over the saddle.

Coming up on the road where the cache was, I crossed the old railroad bed. The blackness of the rocks stood out from the surrounding desert, even in comparison to the road. Jeffrey had told me the berm was piled with high grade ore from the smelters, that this very railroad route was the reason for the Gadsden Purchase, and that the silver mines here were the cause of the inflation that brought about the end of the silver standard.

Anyway, the water cache was right past that, so I filled up everything and more, and used some of the provided sunscreen as well. I have to keep my knees well coated because I am hiking in shorts.

Less than four miles later, I came upon a water trough filled with cold water. I took off my Buff, dipped it, and squeezed it out over my head and shoulders. Then I dunked each elbow up to my wrists and shoulders so that when I extended my arms into the air, the water ran down the sleeves and down my sides. Very refreshing, though the shirt dried within 15 minutes. I kept dousing my sleeves by spitting water from my bag. The continuous breeze all day combined with the water kept me mostly cool.

I should note that this day involved more instances of the trail going directly through a barbed wire fence with no gate or turnstile than I’ve seen before. I get the impression someone doesn’t like hikers much.

Right after the trough, I found myself getting very hungry. I stopped under a shady bush and had the first half of lunch. It was too early for the full lunch siesta, and there was word of an even better shade tree 1.5 miles further on, so I kept walking.

The next shade tree was everything it was promised to be. A huge patch of shade. I ate the other half of lunch and then napped for an hour with a towel over my knees and my headnet on to discourage the flies.

The next section of trail was flat and boring, with only the occasional barbed wire fence or washed out ditch to liven things up. But I just kept walking, trying to track the scarce markers, looking forward to the next trough coming up in five miles.

This one was a big tractor tire full of cold water. So I sat on the edge and laid back, submerging my head and shoulders. I drank most of a quart of water, ate some Starburst, took another dip, then walked on.

It was only a couple more miles to the oasis where I would stop for dinner. A giant tank of water that provided plenty of shade from the evening sun. I ate and lounged a bit, refilled my water bag from the tank, and walked on.

I stopped randomly beside the trail at 8pm, set up camp, crawled in bed, and finished blogging before civil twilight had even ended. Lordsburg and shower tomorrow!

Trail miles: 19.5

Distance to Lordsburg: 13.3 miles

CDT NM 1st Section

Day 7: Hachita

I started out the morning routine hours before sunup, and was already on the trail just before sunrise. The only water I had left was in my half portion breakfast mix. Yet I had a 7 mile trek to the next reliable water source. As such, I wanted to get there as quickly as possible before the sun got high and started sapping me.

Yet still I couldn’t resist lying in a cool wash under a shady embankment for half an hour after a steep climb. I ate a few dozen Starburst and a chewy bar to fuel up for the remaining march.

It was mostly boring road walk, but now completely out of water except what my remaining limes contained, I was motivated to speed across the humpy flats.

A sea of cows flowed away from the water tank as I approached. A shady, cow pie free bit of ground next to the tank and near infinite amounts of fresh well water coming out of the hose on the other side. I was tempted to jump into the little pond down the hill, but I was able to cool off enough just lying in the shade for an hour and snacking some more. I went back for several refills and even ran the hose over my head before hiking out again through the herd.

The next water cache box was only 6 miles further on, so I could be totally profligate with the water I was carrying. Every time it dried, I poured water on my shirt and my head again. The latter seems to have permanently muted my “water resistant” headphones. Thanks a lot Sony.

The trail remained easy to follow and not usually too sandy, so I was moving out. Just before noon, I found a nice tree and stopped for lunch, then just laid underneath it for an hour. Then I packed up and put the speed back on.

I reached the water cache box before 3 and nearly walked right by it, distracted by an enormous dust devil in the distance. When I opened it up there was a phone number for the Hachita Store. I filled up on water, but then I turned my phone off airplane mode–3G signal available.

I was so far ahead on time, I decided to call. Jeffrey came out with a truck and carried me to the store. On the way, he informed me that he had picked up the Gayhearts at the second water box the day before. Jess seemed in high spirits but her dad was complaining of heat exhaustion and making excuses for giving up. They were on their way to Silver City already. An hour and two root beers, a Gatorade, a burrito, an ice cream, and a real toilet later, Jeffrey brought me back to the trail.

It was a little after 4 and still pretty hot, but the wind was stronger than ever, trying to tear my hat off my head. Also, the flats were the most boring to walk on yet. But 3 hours of flat desert and road walking later, I was at the Vista Rim Tank and oasis. I threw my Tyvek down on the humpy grassy ground and made supper. What I had eaten at the store had only given me enough energy to go five miles or so. But lying in the shade waiting for supper to cook, I was ready to pass out and give up for the day.

Nonetheless, after dinner, I refilled my bottle from the tank, packed up, and hiked on down the road into the sunset. It was all roadwalk and mostly downhill, so even though I was out of energy, I got one more mile done. When the sun was gone, I found a nice area to camp in, and forced myself to get the tent set up.

Overall, it was a nice day, hot but easy walking, and the trail being so much easier meant I could get more miles in before my legs gave out.

Trail miles: 19

Remaining miles to Lordburg: 32.8

CDT NM 1st Section

Day 6: In the desert

I don’t have the trail stamina I had five months ago. Even with hours long breaks in the middle of the day, I’m cruising in late with my legs and glutes totally shot and my energy spent.

I woke up well before dawn, slept in, and finally dragged myself awake an hour later. I got started hiking a bit after sunrise.

The first bit of trail was slow going, trying to spot posts from a distance, many of which had fallen. I lost the trail frequently and had to use the GPS to figure out whether I was above or below.

I came out onto the flats and passed the Gayhearts just before noon. They had taken the road walk instead of the trail and so had it a bit easier. But they were already curled up under two umbrellas. I hid behind a bush and made lunch. I kept going, passed Whitewater doing his umbrella thing, then continued to the second water cache. I filled up and continued across the road.

Here there was a CDT info sign casting a sizeable shadow. I laid in it for 2.5 hours. Near the end, a man my age parked his truck to come look at the trail. His oversized Philmont belt buckle gave him away as a Boy Scout. We chatted, he took some pictures, did not offer any cold beverages, and left.

The shade was running away under a barbed wire fence and done clouds were rolling in, so I started packing up soon after that. I set off across the flats again just before 4.

An hour later, I stopped in the shade of a bush for a snack and a drink, and accidentally lost a pint or two of water when the hose popped out of my bag again. I had already passed another water tank and it was another ten miles to the next water source. I seemed to have a couple liters still, so I crossed my fingers and hiked on.

I stopped again around 6. I was feeling a bit sick and weak, so it was clearly time to refuel with supper. While I was cooking, a big cloud came by with five minutes of rain. I wished it had poured hard enough to collect some.

Even after supper, I wasn’t feeling super energetic, but I walked on a couple more miles as the sun set and didn’t stop until I was well into civil twilight. The trail was easy to find here since it followed a rocky road.

The wind wasn’t as bad as the previous evening when I went to set up, but I was all out of energy. Even so, I managed to crawl into bed before nine. Energy gone, feet all ripped up. I wanted to leave the vestibule open to cool off in the breeze but it started raining again and I closed it up. Not much water left and seven miles to the next source. But a definite repair plan in mind for the troublesome hose. Hopes the trail would stay easy so I could get to the water before it got hot.

This was not enough miles. Siestas might need to be shorter. Snack breaks more frequent.

Trail miles: 17

CDT NM 1st Section

Day 5: Southern Terminus

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