As soon as we start walking this morning, Dillon’s feet are hurting very bad. His Achilles on both feet are being rubbed raw by the thick plastic in the back of his La Sportiva shoes. He tries fixing it by cutting off the “stabilizers” which are just thick plastic pieces but it’s still hurting him.
Early in the morning we make it to a riparian area which is essentially a wash that still has a little stream of water running down it. It’s nice cold and clean water too. After a break there were have to walk down the wash for many miles. It’s very slow going because the terrain is loose gravel which moves and gets into your shoes. It’s pretty awful to walk in. Eventually we are able to bypass some sections by following dusty cow paths. There are cows everywhere in this area. Some moo at us while others don’t even seem to mind us getting 15 feet away.
Our little stream is barely alive
Around noon we make it to a dirt road that eventually leads to the highway. Just before we get to that point we see Roswell eating lunch. He’s the first hiker we’ve seen since Lordsburg! We eat with him and then we all start the long 13 mile road walk on the highway. It’s real hot and sunny and brutal on our feet and bodies. Walking on pavement is the worst thing for a hikers body. For some reason it just shreds tendons and breeds blisters. It takes hours to walk on the road and by the time we make it to town we’re ravaged.
This is the striped whipsnake 37 trillion. Poor little guy was run over by a car
Butterflies like to suck on turds for their mineral content
I book a motel room for the 3 of us and then we drink some mimosas as a celebration of our completion of the section. Then we go and get an 18 pack of beer and start shotgunning them. It gets a little crazy and we start reenacting fight club by punching each other. Then we finally go to the only bar in town open late. It’s some dance club out in the middle of nowhere and there’s a whopping 4 other people in this place. We get some beer and start playing pool. We befriend the only other people there and hang with them all night. Then we hitch a ride with them to McDonald’s but when we go inside there’s too many cops staring at us and we decide to just walk back to the hotel to crash.
It’s a cold and cloudy morning but we both slept pretty well. My leg is hurting pretty much right off the bat. This makes me sad and I look at several different “out” points. I can get off at the highway and then a few miles after that at an RV campground or something like that.
We stumble up to the highway where we see a sign indicating trail magic! And it is some serious trail magic! Sodas, bread, peanut butter, veggies, snacks, etc. a sign says it’s trail magic from Genie. We delightfully eat some peanut butter and mustard sandwiches which turn out to be a pretty good combo! Just as we’re about to leave a truck pulls up and out hops Genie the trail angel! She’s super energetic and is reloading all the snacks and putting in some cold beers. We each take a Budweiser which we will carry until later. Genie tells us how she’s going to pick up an injured hiker from some road and then back to Silver City. Revitalized by the snacks and with morale high I decided not to hitch into town but to push through the pain.
There’s a 2000 foot climb up Burro Peak, an 8000 foot mountain, our first one, and it’s steep. It’s still cold and cloudy out and we crush up the mountain. I think the varied terrain is good for my leg muscles. Constant flat walking is miserable. We power up to the top in no time and I’m feeling pretty good! At the top we take a long break next to a huge anthill. We toss some crumbs and food bits in their path and watch them team up and slowly drag their treasures into the hive. I drink the Budweiser from Genie while watching the ants, it’s very entertaining to watch!
Finally in forest!
The way down the mountain the sun starts to come out and the rest of the day is a very pleasant mix of clouds and shade. We come across our first natural water source, a small creek which disappears underground after a hundred feet or so. The water is cold and tasty! My legs feel good until the evening. I find a beer sitting on some rocks near a crossing of a dirt road and take it with me.
The first natural water
We finally find a good place to set up camp just before dark. We set up our shelters and then eat a bunch of food and cheers to camaraderie with our beers. The full moon is coming out and it’s going to be a bright night.
It’s a 3 mile roadwalk out of town. It’s much cooler out today and there are lots of clouds around. The trail goes into some rangeland and then very gradually climbs the slope of the mountain range we are entering.
There are all kinds of neat wildflowers blooming in this landscape. Many seem to only grow in washes. Prickly poppies Datura are especially showy. Lordsburg is visible almost all day in the distance, slowly getting smaller and smaller.
Stinkbeetle! Face down ass up that’s the way these like to assume a defensive posture.
Lordsburg in the distance
While we’re crossing one of the washes I spot one of the coolest animals I’ve ever seen. A Gila monster!!! It’s just taking a stroll in the cool shady weather! I drop my pack and take lots of photos of it. It’s hissing loudly and striking with its black mouth wide open. If that doesn’t scare off a would be predator they’re in for a world of pain and suffering because Gila monsters are venomous. They bite and hold on while venom glands in their mouth release the pain juice into the wound. Of course I kept out of striking distance and then we let him go on his way walking around looking for eggs to eat.
The afternoon we climbed into the mountains where trees grew along the wash and on the hillsides. We looked around for a windmill that supposedly was pumping water but we never found it. Frustrating. We ran into a rancher on an ATV and asked him if he knew where it was but he didn’t seem to know. We decided to move on to the next water source with the hope it wouldn’t be dry.
By the afternoon my leg started to really hurt and that made me depressed. I really want to heal and not have to sit around in a town for days. But it is what it is. We hiked until it started getting dark and set up our shelters due to the ominous clouds and cold temperatures. It’s been straight up cold today! No sooner do we get our shelters up it starts to rain. We get in and go to sleep on a gloomy evening where it rains on and off all night.
Today we just laid around and healed up. My right hamstring has been bothering me but my feet look pretty good! Only one blister and my big toenail is dying.
I go over to the McDonalds where Pitstop and Driver are. I haven’t seen them since Hanover on the Appalachian Trail 5 years ago! They’ve since become trail beasts. They hiked the PCT last year and now are going for their triple crown.
Pitstop and Driver!
The trail world is so small.
Miles hiked: 31 miles
Total from Mexico: 85
The almost full moon made it hard to sleep last night. It was so bright against the desert rocks that you could perfectly see the colors of my gear. I had a great sense of peace and relaxation just laying in the desert moonlight, hearing some coyotes chat back and forth in the distance. Around 4 a.m. the moon finally set and the Milky Way galaxy was out in its full glory. Dillon wakes up too and we see half a dozen shooting stars in a couple minutes.
We get up extra early to beat the heat and the sun and are hiking just before 6. The morning goes by fast as the chill from last night lingers.
Most of the day is spent traversing vast expanses of open desert with miles and miles of nothingness in all directions. It’s a completely new experience for me. It’s both daunting and wondrous. There is no escape from the sun but lucky it has cooled off a lot today compared to the last two days. We are able to walk all day without our umbrellas even as a strong breeze blew. We leapfrogged with Moment and Griggs much of the day. Between the water caches are some cattle troughs which sometimes have water in them fed by wells. After finding a nasty one filled with insect larvae and algae we found a big tire that was well fed and had really clean and tasty water in it!
Wild Zora bar I brought with me from home, curry turkey flavored. It was glorious. Like Indian food mated with beef jerky.
This was one of the better water sources
In the evening we walked through picturesque Wild West terrain filled with rocky hills and cows. My right hamstring is starting to hurt. Dillon says his feet are hurting bad too. Killer blisters. We talk about all the glorious food we will have in Lordsburg tomorrow. I especially am craving a salad. I didn’t get a chance to resupply well because the grocery store in town was closed so I bought a bunch of food at the nearby gas station. It’s all carbs and sugar. I need protein and nutrients!
We get to the last water cache about 7 miles out of Lordsburg where we wanted to set up camp. But it was only 5 pm and we had hours of roasting daylight left to sit around in. We saw Radar, the guy who drove us to the border stocking the cache when we walked up. Told us about food in town. Dillon was persuaded to keep walking to Lordsburg tonight. It took very little to further convince me. We will be having salad and meat and everything tonight!!! We pop some ibuprofen, I put in my music and we charge down the trail towards town. Along the side of the road I see a big gopher snake swallowing a rabbit whole!!! Unfortunately as soon as it saw me it began regurgitating the rabbit and it went and hid in a bush, but not before I snapped some pictures of it.
A few miles from town I finally got service on my phone and did some catching up. We hobbled into town with Kranberry’s as our target. It’s a little restaurant right across from the Econolodge where we will be staying tonight and tomorrow. We both stuff ourselves at the salad at and the I eat a French dip sandwich and onion rings. This is the bliss of thru hiking. Heightened hunger.
I lost my sunglasses somewhere in the last few miles of the trail which makes me sad so I post on the CDT 2017 Facebook page asking if anyone found them when Big Sauce responds that he’s at the motel 6 across the street! I hiked with Big Sauce on and off on the Pacific Crest Trail in 2014. We notably confused the hell out of some dirt-bikers during hike naked day north of Sierra City. He swings by our hotel room and we catch up! I had no idea he was hiking the CDT this year! To top it off Pitstop and Driver, the first people Buzz Lightyear and I met on the Appalachian Trail in 2012 are going to be here tomorrow and say hi to before they start their hike! Freaking crazy.
Gopher snake eating a rabbit!!
Excited for a day off tomorrow to heal and resupply.
Dillon and I wake up before the sun rises and hit the trail just before 7. It’s so cool out and it quickly becomes overcast to add to the relief. We pass Griggs who’s still asleep near the water cache. This morning is so nice and relaxing compared to last night. The CDT follows well marked dirt roads and single track all day long. This makes us happy because we can zone out and make quick miles. Around 10 the sun comes back out and it’s full force heat.
A Cholla blooming with the big hatchet mountains, where we hiked from yesterday.
Salazon makes salted chocolate bars and they’re so freaking good. Everything a hiker wants: fat, sugar, salt and variety of flavors.
You can see the windmill far in the distance
We get to a stock tank which we could see miles and miles away and are delighted to find it has a water trough full of crystal clear water and its gushing out of a pipe! I toss the cool water all over myself and my overheating body is instantly cold in the strong breeze which has been picking up. We drink several liters each over the next hour and a half as we eat in the shade of some trees near the little pond. Finally we both feel good and happy.
Much of the afternoon is a mix of burning sun and cool shade while waking on easy flat roads. We carry more water than we think we need because we are worried some more crazy cross country travel could slow us down, but that never comes. We can see rain clouds and huge dust devils in the distance, silently swirling.
Dust devils in the distance
An ironclad beetle!
In the evening we’re both crashing and hobbling towards a big water tank when I see a little western diamondback rattlesnake coiled up right on the trail! I snap some photos and then he had enough and started rattling and went into a rodent hole. A quarter mile later we made it to the water tank where we met some new hikers! Arrow, Greenbay And Moment. They seem like a friendly bunch and we chat for about 20 minutes until they move on. We rest for about an hour and then move on too.
The evening is beautiful and the low sun plays on the mountains that surround us. We get a second wind and push to a saddle where the sun has just set. It’s got a great vista and it’s absolutely beautiful. We set up camp battered but in good spirits.
Walking through the desert
Little diamondback rattler!
I got up at 5 and grabbed continental breakfast where three very thru hiker looking folks were sitting around and talking about Crispr/ Cas9 gene editing. Turns out it people who drive the shuttles! Then a few thru hikers trickled in. Acorn also showed up! I met Acorn around Kennedy Meadows on the Pacific Crest Trail in 2014. Then she was a few days behind me on the San Diego Trans-County Trail this winter. Now she’s a few days ahead of me on the CDT. She’s going to slackpack south today, as she’s alreaidy hiked the section form the border back to Lordsburg earlier this week.
Only four of us thru hikers are going to the border today. Me and three other guys. The German guy I saw yesterday, a guy named Gibbs and a dude named Dillon. We pack our gear and toss it into a pickup truck to be driven to the border. It’s about a three hour drive, half on pavement, half on crazy remote and rough dirt roads. We see a coyote, some roadrunners and pronghorn from the car. Finally at the border we make it to the Crazy Cook monument. Is named after a slab of concrete with an inscription saying someone was murdered here in cold blood by a crazy cook in 1907. We all take photos at the obelisk and then start our hike! Gibbs is off first, then Dillon and I hike together, followed by the German guy.
- Little horned lizard!Mexico is just behind this fence! Dillon and I chat and hike together all day. It’s nice to find other hikers out here to socialize with. We find lots of cool lizards like short tailed horned lizards and then beautiful greater earless lizards which run to the nearest rock and do push-ups at us. We also come across an abandoned bicycle in the middle of the trail which seemed pretty weird. Midday was very hot, I could almost feel my brain cooking even with my chrome umbrella over me. We took a long break at the first water cache and decided we could make it to the second one about 10 miles away. Little did we know the next section of trail was ROUGH. The trail vanishes and it’s time for cross country travel. We select distant bushes and walk towards them for miles at a time and then take breaks under their shade. The routes all require you going in and out of gullies over and over which is exhausting, all the while the vegetation slices your legs up. Our mileage dropped drastically and it no longer looked like we would make it to the cache before dark.
Ocotillogreater earless lizard walking through the ocotillo for days!bullhorn!
As the sunlight faded, we took a break and prepared for about 4 miles of walking in the dark/ twilight. The moon was out and it’s actually pretty easy to see everything. We even spotted a herd of cows we had to walk through. They seemed pretty confused. We reached the cache at 9:45 pm and got all the water we need and at dinner. Cowboy camping tonight, so excited to sleep.
Dillon in the road at night
Woke up at 4:00 a.m. which always seems to be the time to start a great adventure. Flew out of the Cincinnati airport at 7:00 a.m. to Atlanta and managed to dodge all the storms in the area! Ran as fast as I could to my next plane which was already boarding when I landed (it always seems I either have 25 minutes or 12 hours between flights) and then took off for El Paso, Texas. After landing in El Paso, I got an Uber. My driver is from Ciudad Juárez, Mexico, which is directly across the Rio Grande from El Paso, Texas. She says that even though they’re right next to each other, the culture is very different. She says everyone on the American side is too rushed and frantic. Mexico is more relaxed and people know their neighbors better. It’s a lot cheaper to live there too.
She drops me off at the public library in El Paso because I forgot to print out my Greyhound bus ticket. They need a physical paper ticket, I assumed they were like airports these days. Anyways, I quickly print off my ticket in the computer lab and then have nothing to do for 5 hours. The bus station is conveniently a short walk from the library. I go to CVS and buy a little supplemental food and then mosey on over to the bus station. I know bus stations kind of have a stigma to them… I get it now. Five TVs are playing the People’s Court with all the sound slightly off and they all echo. It got a little better when five Steve Harvey’s started hosting Family Feud. One of the TVs looks like it got punched because it’s all warped and green in the center. About an hour before I board I see a guy walk in and immediately I can tell he’s a thru hiker due to the Gregory backpack and lack of face tattoos. He’s from Germany and this will be his first big thru hike. Looks like we will be on the same shuttle to the border tomorrow! Look at all that trail ahead!
The bus ride is uneventful and smells like pee and poop. After 3 hours or so the bus dropped me off at the McDonalds on Lordsburg around 8:30 pm local time. I grab some fast food and head to my motel room at the Econolodge. I sent my trekking poles and umbrella ahead to the motel a few days ago so I didn’t have to be bothered by trying to take them as carry on luggage on the planes. They have always let me take them but also always stop me and heckle me until I tell them I’ve done it before and that satisfies them. I take a shower, get my gear ready and go to bed.
It all starts in the morning.