The Border to Lordsburg: The First Days on Trail
As we left the border, five of us, a group of hiking vets, we expected to quickly find our hiking grooves. This proved to be true for the first bit of trail, which was well-packed and well-blazed. We happily passed the first miles chatting and observing nature, not worried too much on our footing. We soon realized that this would not always be the case. By midafternoon I found myself dodging cacti and narrowly missing the ocotillo branches that were hidden by my sun umbrella. The blazes had turned to posts that were few and far between. Our pace had slowed and it seemed that we would never get to camp. Finally, a dirt road appeared, marking our stopping point for the day, and we scoured the land to find decent camping. We found a spot that would shelter us from the wind just enough to pitch tents. Sunburned, scraped, and sore, I ate dinner and crawled into my tent.
Morning two the maze of cacti and cow trails continued. Krafty, Blackbird, and I hiked together and often found ourselves way off trail. The density of the plants amazed me! As you look about the desert it seems nearly impossible to believe that a trail passes through the area. After a while the jungle disappeared, giving way to more flat open desert. We continued on in the heat to the next water cache. When I arrived I realized that it was nearly dry. I was able to squeak out a liter of water. That in addition to the half liter I still had from the morning would have to take me the next 13 miles to the next water source. In the heat of the afternoon that would be a challenge but it would have to do. Hiking on, we reconnected with the rest of the group that had hiked out of camp first. We spent the afternoon hiking a dirt road that had lots of small ups and downs. We took a break in the shade, which is like gold out here, and snacked before making the last push to camp, logging our first over 20 mile day. As we settled into our tents Tall Boy and I discussed the need for our rain flies. Considering the windy conditions we decided to keep them off even though we could see lightning flashing in the distance. Shortly after our discussion the rain began to fall and we jumped out of our tents to put on the rain flies. We spent the night being serenaded by rolling thunder and raindrops pelting our tents.
When we awoke the next morning it was still raining and very windy. My tent was really struggling in the force of the wind so I packed up and ate breakfast under an evergreen that offered some shelter from the rain. On the plus side, the storms had brought cooler temps, which I much appreciated. I hiked out of camp alone that morning, taking in the beauty of the dark skies and the sun trying to make its way through the clouds. The trail passes first through a field before going slightly up along a dirt road. From this road you could see an abandoned dwelling in the distance. Scenes like this remind me of the history of the land we are hiking through. The rest of the day passed quickly as the miles ticked away. The clouds stuck around and a steady breeze kept the day cool. Around 3 p.m. we reached the last water cache for the day and there was a sign for trail magic another 1.5 miles up the trail. Obviously, we continued on to that point. Here we met a trail angel named Apple who had an amazing spot set up. He had water and fruit and a shaded area for hikers to sit. We were also met by Blackbird, who had left the trail at the last highway and who brought beer and chips. We spent the afternoon indulging in the magic and settled in to camp there.
Even though we all had more than a few beers we still woke up early because miles are more important than hangovers. We once again found ourselves in miles and miles of flat, open terrain. In this landscape you can see mountains looming in the distance but they never seem to get any closer. The nice part about the terrain, though, is that the miles pass quickly. So as we traversed through ranch land we hiked quickly and realized we had done eight miles in just a couple of hours. We decided to stop for a break in a wash along the trail. Our goal was to head to the next water in about four miles, but somehow we all missed the water and realized we were abut 15 miles in for the day. We found a nice patch of shade and decided to stop for lunch. I hung out at the spot for the longest because I thought I only had about four or five miles left of the day. After relaxing for a while I set out again to the next water cache. This day was hot and I was baking even under the shade of my umbrella. The trail switches between following a dirt road and moving through the desert floor. I moved as fast as I could through the stifling heat. I arrived at the last water cache to find everyone waiting for me. They informed me that there was not enough water in the cache for all of us to dry camp. The most logical solution was to grab a small amount of water, leaving some for those behind us, and head to town. The rest of the group took the dirt road and I stuck to the trail. I played another round of scavenger hunt with the trail markers till I arrived at the road. A little beat up after not taking a break since lunch I limped into the veterans park in Lordsburg and settled in for the best night’s sleep I had on trail to date.
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