First 85 Miles and Damn It’s Hot Outside!
Southern Terminus to Lordsburg, NM
Planes, Trains, and Automobiles
Literally, this is what it took to get to the Southern Terminus of the CDT. A plane to Tucson, train to Lordsburg, and a three-hour shuttle to the monument at the ST of the trail.
I was a little nervous, as I always appear to be at the beginning of a thru-hike. We took pictures at the monument and off we went into the desert. Although we were lucky with the weather, it was still hot, in the mid to upper 80s. With expected temps to reach the 90s next week. I pity the fools starting next week.
So, About the Desert….
Coming from New England, I’m thinking, “Yeah, it’s hot, but it’s a dry heat right?” Well, lemmee tell ya, the sun in NM bears down on you with the unrelenting gaze of a sailor coming home after a six-month stint at sea. Very unrelenting, and compounded exponentially by the noticeable lack of shade.
And nothing in the desert is friendly. Every plant is built to protect itself. Our legs get shredded by cactus and all manner of aggressive bush!
Let’s Talk About Trail Markers
The CDT has always been more of an adventure in navigation than the PCT or AT, but as of last year, the entire trail has been tagged! That being said, it can still be a bit of an adventure. The markers here in the desert are tall, to be seen across long distances and above the cactus and brush. There are sections, however, some at very critical intersections, when they inexplicably disappear. On one occasion that left me wandering in the desert for a solid 20-30 minutes. Just before having my “Jesus take the wheel” moment, I found the trail.
Generally speaking, there isn’t always a trail, per se. You just walk from marker to marker, with everyone meandering their own way. You inevitably walk one way, then see the marker in another direction, then just casually (to make it look as much on purpose as possible) make your way over to that marker.
Mostly cows, and jackrabbits. There are a lot of jackrabbits in the morning, but mostly cows.
Two days ago, I was walking across a large stretch of brush. There were two cows ahead of me that eventually ran away (even though I was very cordial and said hello). Next, I see this bull staring me down as if to say, “Why are my bitches runnin? It’s too hot out here, who the f#@k are you.” Anyhoo, I went wide and outside to avoid that big fella.
I am doing better than expected.
Day one: 22.2 miles. Blisters form.
Day two: 23.2 miles. Blisters worsen.
Day three: 25 miles. I really dislike blisters.
Day four: A mere 15 miles and in Lordsburg by noon!
I do feel better every day, but still struggle to get my trail legs back. In the heat it is critical to take breaks in the shade as well. Beat time to catch up with friends on the trail is under that one friggen oak tree that you were able to see over the brush from two miles away! Some intrepid individuals brought along Sunbrellas. A Sunbrella is an umbrella with reflective material. It’s like carrying around your own private oak tree! Makes those carrying then easy to see as they hike in the distance like little silver aliens.
On that note, have met some great people. We all spent the last four days essentially together, as we navigate to and camp at known water sources. We will undoubtedly go in separate directions as we no longer have to rely on critical water access and our mileage begins to vary, but for now it has been pleasant. I am currently bunking down at the Lordsburg Econolodge with Eli, Armstrong, and Bartender.
Tomorrow will bring what it brings, but tonight my belly is full, the beer is cold and the company divine. Good night, as it is 9 p.m., otherwise known as hiker midnight, and I need to rest up and do it all over again.
Cheers until the next time.
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