CDT Days 5-8 Lordsburg to Silver City
There are few better feelings on trail than waking up in a hotel bed, walking across the street to the gas station for a large coffee with cream and a cheese danish, mostly hiker hobble free, and crawling back in between white sheets, knowing that you have the majority of the day to simply recharge.
Lordsburg, NM was already sweltering hot by 10 am and I was satisfied with my plan to stay in town until 4:30pm. After cleaning the trash out of my pack, sorting through the remnants of my food bag, and scouring the cornucopia of a hiker box at the Econolodge, I had a game plan for the grocery store: I just needed some granola bars and maybe a block of cheese.
I headed over to the small local market. I wish I knew how many miles I have walked in towns on my days “off” on my thru-hikes. Without a car to go about doing your chores, it can add up quick and I’m almost certain it would total up to a whole nother thru-hike worth of steps. I was confident in my plan and determined not to buy too much, but I made one vital mistake: I went before eating lunch.
When I got to the store, the cravings kicked in.
“Ooh, that looks good, I really should get something healthy” I thought as I threw a bunch of fresh cilantro, salad greens, and an avocado into my basket.
I sat outside on the curb drinking muscle milk with three other hikers, swapping ziplocs and oreos, empty boxes and extra packaging flying in every direction as we ripped off tabs and repackaged everything to minimize the trash we would have to pack out.
Back at the Econolodge, hikers were sullying the establishment as hikers do best. We sat on the sidewalk by the hotel entrance for hours, stinking the place up, telling our best blister popping stories, drinking beer, and earning dirty looks from any stand up hotel guests who had the misfortune of unwittingly booking a room at hiker central.
I moseyed down the highway out of this bustling metropolis around 4:30, back into the New Mexico desert, passing run down liquor stores and barking dogs on the way; back to the land of cow skulls, pronghorns, and barbed wire. I ambled by a few hikers along the way, hiking the last bit, and camping with Shadowhawk, who serenaded us to sleep with his flute, while orange light bounced off the cacti and yucca.
Back to early rising, we were on trail by 6am. The miles flew by effortlessly as Gunga Din, Shadowhawk, and I walked past old mines and up hills, talking about organic agriculture, swapping techniques and dreams for future farming enterprises. Kevin caught up at some point and he and I swapped stories about the PCT and the AT. Most hikers on the CDT have hiked another long trail before, making for easy conversation swapping notes on the other trails.
Shadowhawk got ahead of the three of us as we took a long siesta at a cattle tank so we missed out on his flute playing that night. We camped at Burro Mountain Trailhead. Realizing that we were close to a road, we got our hopes up for pizza, and almost more importantly as we were all low, water delivery from Silver City, which was only 20 miles away by the highway. We called multiple pizza places, tried to describe our remote location to confused operators, and may or may not have tried to bribe off duty delivery guys. One finally agreed to bring us much needed sustenance, only to call back 10 minutes later to cancel after realizing where we were. Just as we gave up on our pizza and beverage dreams, a Subaru pulled up to the parking lot and the trunk popped open.
“Guys! That dude’s got a cooler”
Before I could even finish my sentence, he whistled and waved us over, making a drinking motion with his hand. We walked faster than we had all day and gathered around the red plastic treasure trove, filled with ice and sodas.
“Take two if you want, I just finished up doing trail magic” said the driver in an Australian accent, who introduced himself as Moose. He explained that he had started hiking the CDT a few weeks ago but had fallen and injured himself. He was doing trail magic to kill time while waiting for a doctor’s appointment, which would determine if he could continue or if he would have to go home after only 11 days on trail. When he finished his story, he asked us, “isn’t it hiker midnight?” and we agreed. We thanked him hardily, and scurried back to our sleeping bags, sodas and snacks in hand, giggling and exclaiming “the trail provides!” along the way.
I started the day by chugging a can of coca-cola to prepare myself for the first real climb of the trail, up the switchbacks to the abandoned homesite on the peak of Burro Mountain, where, allegedly, there was a cistern full of cold water. We found out later that we found the wrong cistern, a small concrete trough with only a few inches of muddy water in it. It was cold up in the forest above 7,000 feet and for the first time in a week, I elected to sit in the sun while I ate breakfast. My legs are not used to hills yet, and I was pretty wiped after the climb. We discussed mileage for the day; there was water in two miles but then none for another 19 after that. To make it to the water source, it would be a 25 mile day and Gunga Din and I agreed that neither of us were up for it. We would either have to dry camp or take the three mile road detour to Ravenwing Farm, a microbrewery and hiker hostel of sorts, to camel up.
When we got to the road that turned off toward the farm, there were a few liters of water cached. We were tempted by a beer, but decided it would be better to get into Silver City the next day instead of adding an extra 5 or 6 miles to the trip. So, having hiked 15 miles already, we topped off our bottles so we each had two liters and set off for another 11 miles to the riparian area.
My feet were throbbing by the time we arrived at the beautiful, life saving, cow shit filled seep. We joked around and laughed while rehydrating and fell asleep under the stars, the steep walls of the arroyo jutting upwards around us.
We all slept in and didn’t leave camp until the sun was up, a first of the trip for me. It was a beautiful walk following the arroyo to a gravel road with big trees and bigger rock formations reflecting the morning light.
When we got to the road, Kevin, a better man than I, opted for the 13 mile road walk into town while Gunga Din and I spent an hour standing on the side of the highway until we got a hitch. I would have never done that on thr AT or PCT but the CDT is often referred to as “choose your own adventure” and I figure I will be taking plenty of alternates from the official route that it doesn’t matter all that much.
It felt a bit like cheating to skip the roadwalk, but hot coffee and Mexican food quickly washed any second guesses away.
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