Trip Report CDT: New Mexico pt1

I'm Burning Up

Getting to the tiny town of Lordsburg New Mexico went relatively smoothly. The Amtrak train operator easily picked me out as a thruhiker. He had seen a lot of people head out to trail only to return a few weeks later having given up. I told him not to expect to ever see me again.

Once off the train I immediately began jumping into trail chores even though the hike had not even started. I prepped two resupply boxes and mailed it ahead of me: one for Doc Campbell's Post and another for Pie Town. Both places do not have any easy access to grocers.

I planned on spending the rest of the day in the McDonald's hoping to see another hiker and split the cost of a room for the night. Instead a local who went by the name of Bimbo started to chat me up and eventually offered an empty trailer home he had that I could spend the night in!

Waking early I rush across town to catch my shuttle that will take me to the southern terminus of the CDT. Three other hikers join me in the shuttle and it turns out the shuttle driver is someone I'd met on the Florida Trail.

A view of desert stretching to the horizon

The drive takes a few hours and is pretty remote. We briefly stop at a gas station to get some breakfast. Border patrol pulls up to ask me what I'm doing and I assure him I'm just a hiker. The drive continues are the sun quickly rises and heats the mostly empty desert landscape. We arrive at the border, get a history lesson about the crazy cook and then I blast off into the mid day heat.

Crazy cook monument Southern terminus monument for the CDT

There is one water cache about midway through the day to break up the monotony but otherwise it's just me sweating and kicking cactus as the trail continues to disappear in front of my eyes. I do about 24mi(39km) and then set up my brand new tent for the first time!

The following day is more of the same. I try to hide from the midday sun and push hard to move between water caches. The heat and my exertion start to wear me down as my inner thighs begin to chafe severely.

Desert view

In the evening clouds roll in and a large electrical storms moves in. I set up my tent in the wind and manage to break a stake while hammering it into the ground. The wind continues, whipping dust into my tent and all over my gear. I cover my head and fall asleep.

Everything is covered in a thin layer of dust in the morning and putting in my contact lenses really stings my eyes. I reach a water cache early in the morning and try to clean out the contact lens. A perfectly timed gust of wind blows it out of my hands and into the void.

Water tank in desert with cows in the background

Once again the midday is spent hiding away from the sun, this time under a solar panel that is powering a water well. At camp I realize that despite my wide brim hat and hiding in the shade I still have gotten pretty badly sunburnt. My thigh chafe is still pretty bad, my toes are beginning to rash as well as under my armpits. I long for town.

I wake in the early hours before sunrise to make miles before the sun peaks over the horizon. Getting to town early I book a room at the Econo Lodge which is apparently hiker friendly in this town. They have a hiker box and do your laundry for you for a small fee.

Desert sunset

I run into my first hikers, a pair of brothers. They are just about to quit though since one of them has extreme pain in his foot. I was hoping to have some company but it seems like I will be continuing to hike alone. I spend the later half of the day lying down and applying all sorts of ointments and creams to my various hurting body parts.

I try to leave early again and make it to the edge of town before realizing I forgot my headlamp in the hotel room. Walking back, I have to wait until they open so I can re-enter my room. So much for trying to get a head start.

Early morning road walk out of Lordsburg

After road walking out of Lordsburg the trail finally takes me up some elevation! The views begin to open up as I can peer across the expanse and water seems to be flowing at the surface. I see large clouds in the distance and then rain. I continue hiking and end up heading straight into the storm. For some reason I decide not to wear my rain pants or cover my sleeping pad. I get soaked to the bone and my wet shorts begin cutting into my already tender thighs.

Near the top of the climb I set up my tent in the rain and sit inside hoping to dry off. Thankfully the rain does end up stopping so I can air out my sleeping pad and have a cozy night.

I push hard all day and hike almost 30mi(48km) by 1500h. I spend the late afternoon hiding in shade beside a water cache. Someone drives up to see if I'm okay but otherwise I still see no hikers.

Horny toad

My paradise doesn't last long as biting flies settle in to force me up and hiking. In the evening as I near a highway I hear gunshots in the distance and camp at a road junction before the road walk into Silver City.

The highway walk into Silver City sucks. Single lane each way and no shoulder. After an hour of pavement walking I begin to stick my thumb out while still continuing forward. A RV pulls over, and Raul gives me a ride the rest of the way into town. I book a night at the Motel 6, resupply at Dollar Tree, then spend the evening lying down eating ice-cream and pizza.

I wake early to get started on the road walk out of Silver City. Thankfully it quickly turns into dirt roads and there is very little traffic. I finally run into some CDT hikers! They are caught up with a chatty local out riding their horse.

The rest of the day I hang out with Kitty Hawk and Carmen Sandiego. Kitty is an older gentlemen who handles bank foreclosures and Carmen is a girl from Croatia. Apparently they had met while both hiking the PCT.

I leave camp early by myself to tackle the first jewel of the CDT, the Gila river. Though technically not part of the official route the vast majority of hikers take this route. It's shorter, avoids a large burn area, is easier to resupply on and let's you experience crossing a fork of the Gila river over 100 times!

Crossing the Gila river

Immediately crossing the river and jumping into the snaking canyons the trail becomes practically impossible to follow. I think there was heavy flooding in the early spring and I have to constantly stare at my GPS to make progress.

Crossing the Gila river

The heat of the day is kept at bay by the constant river crossing. The water level is usually around my knee(I'm 5'8"(173cm) tall for reference) but eventually my shorts get wet and I have excruciatingly painful chaffing along my inner thighs. I grit my teeth and push through hoping for reprieve at the end of the river.

I make it to Doc Campbell's in good time. I pickup my food resupply I'd sent and order a pizza. There are a bunch of hikers here! Ping, Natty, Sporks, Jabba and a couple who are hiking the Grand Enchantment Trail with their dog. Just as I'm about to leave another hiker pops in. Yardsale, a young hiker with a small pack that's doing 40mi(64km) a day!

I try to find a place to camp near some historic dwellings that open tomorrow morning. It begins to rain and I catch Ping as we take cover under a bridge overpass. We chat all evening and decide to hike out tomorrow together.

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