CDT Part 1: The Mexican Border to Silver City
Hi! Allow me to introduce myself. My trail name is Sourstraws, and this year I’m hiking the CDT with my husband, Piñata. Our Kiwi friend, Jupiter, who we met last year on the PCT, is joining us on our walk from Mexico to Canada along the Continental Divide.
Getting to the Trail
We had planned to start on May 1, and my Dad planned to drop us off at the Crazy Cook monument in his Subaru. However, he was advised not to attempt the road in his vehicle. Instead, Dion of Buddy Backpacker’s Outpost offered to drive us to the border on May 2. It’s a rough road indeed, and I’d recommend future hikers make sure to secure a shuttle rather than trying to drive the road themselves.
The first 100 miles of trail crosses the desert floor with little elevation gain. It’s a land of little shade and many cows. The CDTC stocks many water caches during the first 85 miles, which is extremely helpful in this desert with no flowing water. Navigating through this section basically consists of walking from one CDT signpost to the next. Cattle trails braid the area, so it’s easy to start following one off in the wrong direction, but it’s easy to correct course. We quickly fell into a routine of hiking from one shady spot to the next. One mile here, four miles there, and so on. Crowded under a yucca or spread out under a juniper, we took whatever shade we could. We saw many bones in this section of desert, and very few other hikers.
We made it to Lordsburg on day five, excited for some McDonald’s and a shower. The McDonald’s was great, but the KOA wanted to charge $15 per shower. Instead we walked down to the laundromat, and took turns washing ourselves the best we could from the bathroom sink. How quickly we settle back in to the hiker trash life! Given the laundromat had no soap and broken (as in busted glass) vending machines, we didn’t think the management would mind. We washed our clothes, resupplied at the Dollar General, and headed back to McDonald’s to wait out the heat of the day before hiking out in the afternoon.
Alternates Are Your Friend
Leaving Lordsburg, there was one final stretch of desert floor before we started gaining elevation and entering pine forest. The shade was a welcome change. There were a few alternates into Silver City, but they just sounded like shortcuts, so we decided to stick to the official route. The final miles into Silver City included a 22-mile water carry and a 13-mile walk along a paved highway in some serious heat. The alternate would have been on a dirt road with water along the way. Once we got to Silver City we felt like chumps, and decided to pay more attention to the alternate choices on this trail.
Silver City was a great trail town. We stayed at the RV park, which allowed us to tent camp for $15 per tent. This included access to showers, coin laundry and Wi-Fi. Sadly, there was no shampoo, so I had to use my Dr. Bronner’s instead. I’ll be happy when I finally get a real shower with real shampoo. We finally started seeing other thru-hikers in town. Maybe we’ll actually see some people out on trail one of these days.
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