Southern Terminus to Lordsburg
Well, we are doing it. Oftentimes I giggle and smile to myself when I realize we are out here hiking the CDT. A trail I have read about for years. Crazy stuff.
My brother and I started our northerly walk on April 30. The shuttle from Lordsburg to the Southern Terminus was long and rough. It was about three and a half hours of driving to get to the middle of nowhere. Both shuttle vehicles were full, ten hikers in total riding the CDTC shuttle. Large trucks are used because of the rough road conditions and they are necessary. These shuttles are operated by the Continental Divide Trail Coalition and are one of a few ways to get to the border. The terminus is basically in the middle of nowhere, obvious because the border fence is a basic hip height barbed wire fence. Kinda comical when compared to the fence in other areas.
After photos and everything we started our northern walk. Everyone was giddy with excitement as we headed into the desert of New Mexico. Our first destination was the first water cache. The fee for the shuttle also goes to filling the water caches that the CDTC operates during the season. Before we knew it we had finished the first 14 miles and reached that water cache. After the typical hiker banter with the other CDT newbies Brian and I headed out to finish the day. We found a lovely little campsite to cap off day one, 17 miles into the journey. Campsites on this trail aren’t as prevalent, and sometimes they are hard to find among all the rocks and pointy plants.
We elected to cowboy camp to avoid setting up our tents in the wind and to enjoy the views. Cowboy camping is when you sleep without a tent; cowboys did not have fancy Cuben Fiber or Silnylon tents like we now do. If there’s no chance of rain and I’m in the desert then I’m probably cowboy camping.
Day two started off beautiful. We have gotten lucky with the weather it seems. There was wind and dust in the forecast for our first three days, but that is better than the heat. I remember we had lots of flat walking and the breeze kept up all day to keep us cool. Everyone from our shuttle was grouped up and often I could look up and see a line of six thru-hikers spread along a half mile. We hit another water cache during the morning and we filled up, hydrated, and took cover in the little shade there was. Our days in the desert seem to be motivated by two things: water and shade.
We finished the day after 22 miles. We joined some friends and camped near one of those typical CDT water sources. A well and trough in the middle of cow-grazing land. Yes, there are lots of cow pies all about. It was a little windy so I decided to set up my tent to see if I could get out of the breeze a little bit. It didn’t work, and everything ended up covered in dust. Now I’m also worried about my tent zipper failing because of the dust getting stuck in the teeth; another reason to cowboy camp.
Day three was a lot of fun. At this point we are at the back of everyone that started on the 30th. That’s quite alright because we are forcing ourselves to go slow for the first week or two. It’s smart to ease into a long hike instead of going out there all quick like and getting hurt. Hiking 20 to 30 miles a day is not typical and takes some getting used too. Some people we have met already have done warm-up hikes and they are crushing miles. Sometimes people will go hike a short trail to get in shape for their longer thru-hike. This is a great idea, but we didn’t have the time. So in order to limit ourselves to 20 miles a day we have to take many breaks throughout the day. This relaxing attitude and schedule is making me feel at ease.
We actually had a couple of little climbs today, which granted us some spectacular views of the desert surrounding us. What a place! In the evening we ran into our first trail magic. An older gentlemen by the trail name of Apple had a neat canopy set up and was handing out sodas and snacks. I enjoyed my first soda there as well. I never drink soda in the real world, but out here the sugar liquids are welcome. We obviously had to take a long break at the trail magic to burn some daylight and eventually we left and continued on.
This day we finished after 21 miles and found campsites in a small gully. The gully provided shelter from the wind and was only three to four feet wide so we laid down in a line. I don’t think I’ve ever slept in a gully before. I felt like a little ant, but I did sleep well.
Brian and I decided to sleep in today to get a later start. Instead of the typical 7 a.m. hiking time, I was hiking by 7:45 a.m. It does become hard to sleep in out here on the trail. You have no choice but to live with the rising and setting of the sun. Usually we wake up between 6-6:30 a.m. and we go to sleep around 9 p.m. or whenever it is dark enough. It’s a more natural schedule.
Our plan for day four was to do enough miles to set us up for a short walk into Lordsburg so that we could take care of our town tasks and also give us a shorter rest day. It seems as though all the hikers are starting to spread out. Today we only saw one other thru-hiker and we also stopped and talked to Ed, who is a rancher in the area. He gave us some fruit as well after we helped him load a trough into his horse trailer. The morning consisted of a lot of walking on dirt roads and a little climb to go around Pyramid Peak. We reached the last water cache at about 4 p.m. and took a break there. To finish out the day we needed to find a spot to sleep. We meandered a few miles farther and dusted out spots in the dirt to sleep. The day was all finished after 19 miles and set us up for a quick six miles into town.
Today, day five on trail, we did the short miles into town with light packs. We are currently knocking out town tasks. Most town stops include eating real food, figuring out the next section, and buying more food to head out. Everything is going well and we are hoping to do five or so more miles out of town today.
Our bodies are feeling good so I think we should be able to up the mileage for the next section. I’m looking forward to the longer days and we should pass the 100-mile mark tomorrow. Our next stop is Silver City in about three or four days. We are just out here doing it.
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