April 13:Miles hiked – 14.8
Current Mile – 14.8
After a restless night at the EconoLodge in the glorified truck stop that is the town of Lordsburg, New Mexico, I woke up at 5 AM with at least two hours of sleep. The shuttle that would take me to the southern terminus of the trail left right from the hotel at 6:15 so I took one last shower, packed my stuff up, and went down for breakfast before it was time to go. Six other hikers are on the shuttle with me, all good people from what I can tell so far. The ride takes three hours, mostly down a gravel border patrol road. Instantly this trail takes me to the most remote place of any, there’s literally NOTHING out here since we left Lordsburg. The CDT seems to be living up to the hype.
We arrive at the monument around 9 and all take turns taking the obligatory pictures. The land beyond the monument is flat and treeless, just like the entire drive down, and before long we each set off into it at our own paces. The trail is faint and overgrown, and within the first mile I’ve lost it and ended up bushwacking to the signs that I can see in the distance. The first few steps of any Thru hike are a surreal feeling, it feels so good to be back on trail! Low hills begin to rise alongside me as I hike into the Big Hatchet Mountains. The trail begins its first roadwalk around mile 5 and it would be like this for the rest of the day! It’s unpaved though and actually pretty enjoyable as I stay low and watch the land begin to rise around me. By noon it’s blistering out, much hotter than I remember the beginning of the PCT being. I’m happy to have brought my umbrella along even though I wasn’t too impressed by it last year, it does the trick perfectly and on I hike until I find a slightly shady spot beneath a bush and stop for lunch. My first meal of the trail is a peanut butter bagel, YUM!
I decide to try and hike on in the heat but it’s too much and before long I find another shady spot to rest in, this one much better than the first. The first hiccup of the trail, I accidentally brought the twelve book in the series of unfortunate events when I’m only on the eleventh! It may seem minuscule but I assure you this is a tragedy! What happened to the Baudelaire’s in the grim grotto???
It’s still hot at four but I hike on to the first water cache, where treeman, a hiker from Germany is packing up to go. I’m pretty beat, the sun wore down on me hard today, but I decide I’ll push on one more mile and find a better spot to camp. When I head north from the cache to trail vanishes and I’m left walking completely cross country. From my maps I can tell I’m supposed to flank around the side of the mountain in front of me and I make my own way, a very cool part about this trail. I find myself a spot and set up a cowboy camp before cooking up some chicken and rice with duck sauce, red pepper flakes, and spicy tuna. Young Blood is on trail and it feels so good!
High of the day: navigating through the desert and feeling like a badass for it
Low of the day: realizing I brought the wrong book!
Miles hiked – 20.5
Current mile – 35.3
I woke up earlish today, 6 in the morning, to hopefully beat the sun but it never really got very cold last night so it was pretty warm already to begin the day, even with the cloud cover that there was. I watched the sun rise above the valley in front of me while I packed up camp, the worst part of Thru hiking! The cross country section continued on with the wooden posts becoming more and more intermittent.
There was a pretty wide variety of vegetation in this area but each one was covered in prickly thorns that completely tore my legs up. Without knowing exactly where to go I continued to flank around the base of the mountain range next to me for hours. I kept finding myself on the edge of a canyon and had to maneuver my way down and then back up to continue on the other side. I hiked for a brief period alongside Emmy and two other guys who’s names I’m drawing a blank on but totally good peeps! Unfortunately with there not being a defined trail we each were making our own way so it was long before we became separated and it was back to walking by my lonesome. It’s only day two but I want a trail fam! I can’t wait to catch up to Frank from the PCT who is only days ahead of me, or for scrapbook to catch up as he’s starting in a few days from now. I especially can’t wait for Ella to come and hike for a while sometime later this summer, sounds pretty dreamy as she would put it.
Eventually I make it through the cross country section and find myself in a vast flat valley where the soil is red and the shrubs are a bright green, contrast at its finest. The clouds have dissipated now leaving the sun beating straight down on me as it was just about noon. I don’t remember Southern California EVER being this hot, it feels more like NorCal without the shade! By the time I reach the second water cache, 11 miles from where I camped, I’m so drained from the cross country and heat that I collapse in the tiny bit of shade beneath one of the scraggly shrubs and set my umbrella up so it’s covering my legs. Nap time! 5 of the other hikers who were on the shuttle with me show up but Treeman must’ve made it here last night according to his entry in the logbook, what a racehorse! I read and smoke and eat before filling my bottles and heading on into the barren desert of New Mexico. As I’m crossing highway 81 just after the cache, a car comes screeching to a halt just so they could take my picture once they confirmed I was hiking to Canada. One of the cool parts of being a Thru hiker, I’m famous!
There’s a faint trail alongside the signs north of the HWY and before long I’m following a dirt road which I couldn’t be happier about! I push myself another ten miles into the hills and find myself a nice spot to call it a day in a wash alongside the road, not the most scenic spot but it’s flat! There are no designated campsites on this trail it seems so finding a spot has been a challenge both nights so far. I’m beat, time for bed!
High of the day: having a car stop and talk to me like I was a celebrity
Low of the day: the heat was pretty unbearable today
Miles hiked – 23.2
Current Mile – 58.3
Day three. Day three is always the hardest. I wake up at around six again and pack up my things quickly before hitting the trail, it’s still second nature so it doesn’t take long at all! Part of me feels like I never really lost the Thru Hiker mentality after the PCT which comes in handy now but not so much off trail. Not even a mile in I run into Treeman and Kathleen, a section hiker headed to Lordsburg. We hike together for a while down the jeep road the trail is following which is really nice after mainly solitude since the border. After three miles we make it to a water tank operated by an electric tank and I break off from them as they still have water but I’m all out. The water flows from a pipe into a scummy cow pond, but it’s colder than what’s been in the caches so I’m happy! I stop for a while and cook breakfast, dehydrated scrambled eggs and bacon mmmmm. I find myself much hungrier than I was at the beginning of my prior hikes, less nerves? Seems unlikely cause the nerves are definitely still affecting me! I spend the 6 miles leading up to the water cache questioning why the hell I’m out here. It’s hot, there no shade or trail, and hardly any people to meet. Surely just becoming a triple crowner isn’t worth this, is it? I’ve always said I don’t really care about the triple crown, I just want to be in my happy place, but so far this trail has honestly been the most miserable hiking I’ve done. I tell myself it’s still early, that I didn’t even start having a good time until nearly Mile 200 on the PCT. I hope this will be the same case this year.
At the water cache I stop briefly to camel up but there’s hardly any shade so I continue on. The trail continues cross country on the other side of Highway 9, and at the height of the day I’m forced to whip out the umbrella until I can find a decent spot to chill. The infamous Mesa’s of New Mexico start to display themselves, the first real “sight” of the trail so far.
Eventually I find a slightly shady spot to lay down for an hour or two. I only have 8 more miles planned for the day so I have plenty of time to kill as it’s only about 2:30 and the sun doesn’t set till 8. I read and eat and think. “Will it get better?” I ask myself. It has to.
When I start hiking again I’m hit with my first wave of endorphins that goes hand in hand with pushing yourself to your physical limits. I feel strong, I feel capable, I feel like a Thru Hiker! I dance and sing my way along the jeep road the trail is following, high up on a plateau with mesas and rolling hills surrounding me. This is why I hike. Because it gets me in the best shape I could possibly be in, because the trail will bring you places that hardly anyone else will ever see, because at this point I feel like it’s the one thing in this world that I’m actually kinda good at. The euphoria is real and I crush the miles to the next water cache where I set up camp with Treeman and Kathleen. 23 miles today! I am once again a mile slaying badass! I’m so beat by the time I get there that I lay my pad out and immediately lay down for a few minutes before getting ready to cook dinner. This is where I realize my second “uh oh” of the trail, I left my stove somewhere today! No bueno. Treeman let’s me use his for the night but there’s no outfitter in Lordsburg so I won’t be able to cook until I get to Silver City, around 100 miles from here. Doh!
High of the day – grooving my way down a jeep road in the desert without a care in the world
Low of the day – realizing my klutzy stove error
Miles hiked – 20
Current Mile – 78.3
I let myself sleep in a bit today while Kathleen and Treeman pack up, yesterday wore me out so I felt it was well justified. The water from the cache was a little cooler than normal after sitting out all night but still nowhere near refreshing. I pack up and head out, cross country once again, through the desert. The scenery was more of the same, flat with low scrubby bushes covering every inch of earth in sight. The signage is more sporadic today than it’s been which makes it harder to stay on track but I manage and eventually find myself the nicest tree so far about five miles into my day which makes for a perfect breakfast spot. I sit here for a while, unconcerned with miles and how much time I have to make them. I’m planning twenty miles for the day which at one time may have seemed like a push but after two hikes it’s just another day on the trail!
Further on down the trail I run into a water tank filled with green sludge. Thank god for the water caches otherwise I would have had to drink this scum! That’s New Mexico for you though, and there’s only one more cache before I’ll have to rely on sources like these! I’m rocking both a steripen and sawyer this year, at least for NM, so I should be ok.
It’s about noon by the time I hike on from the tank and starting to heat up as usual. The heat is really the only thing that makes me start to doubt and question being out here. I seriously start to consider calling it on a Thru hike of this trail, only four days in. I have it set in my mind that I’ll hike for 500 miles and if I’m still miserable, which surely I will be, then I’ll go jump back on the PCT. I know this is wrong though, even if I did get back on the PCT my experience will be nothing like it was last year. I need to embrace this trail and its differences from the others, even if I’m pretty sure there’s no way it could possibly equal last year. It will get better after Lordsburg, when I head up into the high desert and the heat isn’t so intense. There will be trees and shade and when I get to the Gila there will be water for miles and miles and miles. I just have to push through this part, the trail can, will, and must provide!
The self defeating thoughts continue for the rest of the day which makes the miles drag on. There’s really not much to say about the hike other than that. I make it to the final water cache around six and cheer up a bit with the companionship of Kathleen and Treeman. We talk about everything we’re going to eat in town tomorrow, and I even get a text from a hiker named BreadNButter who has picked up my stove! I introduce the two to highs and lows, I don’t know if they were too into it but it made me smile thinking about all the nights we spent going around the circle on the PCT sharing these moments, which became more and more ridiculous as the trail went on. 7 miles to Lordsburg, what a walk that was.
High of the day – playing highs and lows in camp!
Low of the day – self defeating thoughts for hours