Nighthiking Spooks and Drinking Poop: Days 4-6 on the CDT

If you think your town is small, you should come test your theory against Lordsburg, New Mexico. Besides McDonalds and a few dingy motels occupied my truckers and hikers, there really isn’t anything to do here but eat and hike through it. One by one, we all left the campground and made our way to eat breakfast. I scrounged some “fresh” produce from the market then hung out at the library for the better half of the day. The whole crew from last night made it there, and we talk d about our plans for the next section from Lordsburg to Silver City. After some relaxing and journaling, I stumbled into a local burrito joint to let the heat of the day pass before hiking out of town.

Being was the only customer in there for a couple of hours and the lady let me take a quick nap before ordering another burrito and continuing my journey. I thought the asphalt road walk would’ve sucked a lot more, but it really wasn’t too bad. I fell into the zone, listening to music and watching the desert landscape slowly shift towards mountains. Once I realized missed my turn off onto the dirt road, I crawled under a barbed wire fence and did some bushwhacking instead of backtracking. The Kid and Boomerang texted me, saying they were meeting up at the restaurant I just left but there’s no way I was turning around. I plan to zero in Silver city so I was hopeful to see them there.

The best place to walk on the road is right in the middle…

Let The Show Begin

The cloudy day was a perfect set up for incredible sunset and I was far enough away from the highway to enjoy it in peace and quiet. Prior to this hike, I thought New Mexico didn’t have any real mountains, but as I turned around and watched the light weave up and over all the distant ridges and peaks, I admitted my ignorance. The mountains here are big, beautiful, and dramatic. So far every night has gifted me with an incredible sunset but Tonight was undoubtedly the most spectacular. Warm hues of red, orange and pink painted the the clouds and sky. The mountains that I was hiking directly towards started glowing and left me speechless. Once the show was over and day turned to night, that’s where the real excitement started.


Of all the sunsets so far this one has definitely been the most impressive.

When The Desert Comes Alive

I saw my first rattlesnake just a couple feet off the trail. Or should I say, he saw me and started rattling to let me know I was too close. I was in my own world until this point, although I’m slowly realizing that the desert comes to life at night, and my nerves were now primed to pay attention. A few miles later I passed another snake directly on the trail and didn’t see it until I was about to step on it. I jumped and screamed like a baby although the snake was really small and clearly wanted nothing to do with me. It was now headlamp time and the clouds from today were holding back the bright, big moon. After a few more miles I looked out to my left and saw other headlamps in the distance. When the lights didn’t move at all I realized it was two sets of eyes staring back at me. I stopped and watched them watch me. As I continued walking, they didn’t really leave, but just paralleled me from the safe distance away.  It must be coyotes I thought. I knew I wasn’t in any trouble but after the snakes and now this, I was officially spooked. The map showed seven more miles to hike until I got to the first decent water supply which I would camp just after. The clock said 830 and I buckled up for some night hiking.

The CDT blazes are spread out about every quarter mile throughout this section.

Into The Night

Every few minutes I would scan the horizon out to my left, trying to find those eyes that found me but they seem to disappear.  30 months later I looked back and there was two more sets of eyes for total of four coyotes  staring back at me not really running away, just paralleling my path. I  yelled out and they didn’t move a muscle. My headlamp showed the eyes of not only coyotes but spiders. Mice and other insects danced along the desert floor. There was no way that I would be doing any cowboy camping until I got much farther north into New Mexico. Just before I entered the mouth of the canyon I looked to my left, and all my nerves stood up as high as they could.

Although the snake was small, it scared the crap out of my chafed crack.

Mexican Wolves or Coyotes?

According to the video I took, at least eight coyotes were now staring at me from what I felt was much too close, probably 15-20 yards away. I reminded myself that it was still very unlikely anything would happen. But seeing a pack that big, which was now certainly stalking me changed my spook into a scare. I hiked fast and told myself I wouldn’t be setting up camp until I found other hikers. I like to pride myself on being resilient to these kinds of scares but being out here in such an unfamiliar place by myself, I felt anything but calm. Once I entered the canyon, I felt a little bit more security.

At about 1030 I finally arrived at the water source and picked my way through some brush up to the fenced in windmill and tank. I saw what I was looking for and then I heard hikers yell out from behind a bush. They scared the shit out of me. I jumped and yelled only to hear laughter in response. “Snooze?” I heard. “Is that Stranger and Snack hole?” I asked. “Sure is! Have you seen those coyotes?” they replied. Once the pack was done stalking me, I think it worked its way up to them because they commented about seeing about a dozen sets of eyes heading towards them from the top of the hill. It was another restless night, mostly because of the heat and my dirty body.

Some much needed beauty to break up the spook

Happy To See The Light

I woke up to a sunlit landscape that seemed totally new to me. With all the spookiness of the night behind me and I was ecstatic to realize I had the fortune of walking through this beautiful place all day, once again. The water cashes south of Lordsburg were now nonexistent and hikers were forced to filter from cattle troughs and tanks. I had my first go at it and honestly it wasn’t too bad. The city water back home was probably full of worse chemicals. The CDT followed winding roads and trails through hills and mountains punctuated with big sandstone boulders, which once again made me want to climb. I played some tunes for the first half of the day and I felt like I was walking in my own movie.

Salt and MacGyver

How Not to Make Friends

The forecast for the next couple of days was notably cooler and a lot windier, which made for some very pleasant hiking. It also seems like the amount of trees outnumbered the cacti and shrub. Compared to the desert south of Lordsburg shade was abundant. I ran into a set of hikers which I thought it was Snackhole and Stranger, so I got quiet and I plan to scare them like they did to me last night. I let out a yell and jumped one of the hikers, but as they turned to look at me, I realized it was two different people than I thought…I immediately started apologizing and explain myself.

Thankfully, everyone’s pretty cool out here and they gave me a pass. We introduced ourselves then continued hiking and got to know each other for the next couple of hours. Their names were Salt and MacGyver. The hiking flew by with conversation of each other’s lives and projects back home. We took a break at the next cattle tank and finally ran into Snackhole and Stranger. Apparently those coyotes last night could’ve been wolves as Stranger didn’t think that coyotes traveled in such a large pack. I didn’t know, but the thought of there being wolves out here definitely made experience seem a bit more wild.

Cruising through the high desert

Ping Pong or Pool?

The wind picked up for our first big climb up Jack’s peak and uphill felt good after so much flat walking. Spending most of my time hiking in New England really didn’t see me on many flat trails, and my feet were starting to get tired of hitting the spot every single step. After Jack’s peak, I made the decision to hike off trail about a mile to a campground/RV park called the Borough Mountain Homestead. It was definitely the right decision. After walking a sandy road down to the campground, I came upon a free camping area, very hot showers, cold and tasty well water, and an indoor spot perfect for cooking dinner, relaxing, and stretch. It was cold that night. I cleaned off the five days of desert dirt from my body and slept amazing.

Snackhole, Stranger and I had a ping-pong tournament the next morning and then we played cutthroat pool before setting off on the trail. They’ve had some of the best vibes that I’ve encountered on trail yet and it was really nice to spend some time just having fun and not hiking. I hit the trail around 10 AM and set off and today number six I ran into the Cal pond which I thankfully didn’t have to filter water from. Piles of poop lined the circumference of the pond, and as if that hadn’t smelled bad enough, a dead cow was roasting in the heat just a few feet away.

First round of poop water, courtesy of the cows

Drinking Poop Water

About a mile later, I stopped to filter water from a trickling stream and ran into Salt, MacGyver, their friend Dr. zoom. At this point we were less than 10 miles to the road which we would walk into Silver city tomorrow and we all made plans to camp just before it set off onto the road with the cool morning temps and hopefully lack of traffic. Wide open spaces which previously captured my attention were replaced by pine forests, and while they were beautiful, it did make for a little bit of monotonous hiking. Later on, the trail popped out to a few beautiful vistas with views of the surrounding Arizona and New Mexican mountains And I was really taken back. The trail dropped away from high points and into a wash with the first steadily flowing streams.

The beautiful New Mexico mountains.

Magic Is Real!

Coming around the corner, I saw a big blue box with gallons of water and I was excited for my first dose of trail magic. The clean water made me happiest, which I boiled and cooked dinner with. Salt, and MacGyver rounded the corner with smiles on their faces, and they joined me for some dinner at the exit of the canyon. Dr. Zoom rolled up next and the four of us hiked out of the canyon and into another beautiful desert sunset. We broke up to find camping spots, but made plans to see each other once we all made it to Silver city. Apparently there’s a big bike race going on in town right now and there’s tons of tourists which means the potential of free beer and food. My fingers are crossed.

Walking through the canyon before the dreaded road walk into Silver City.


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