Day 1 – Saturday May 9th.
Roughly 30 miles
I got in around midnight to lordsburg and quickly got to bed in the econo lodge. I set the alarm for 5:45 am in order to be ready by 6:15 as stated in the shuttle. Juan, a local to the area, helps shuttle hikers for the CDTC. As the miles flew by, I realized I would have to walk all of the way back to lordsburg. The area we drove through was desolate. Only some ground vegetation and some mountains scattered far apart with vast, open nothingness in between. This is no pct desert, I’ve heard. This is the real deal. As we slowly make our way on a beat up two track to the border I fee myself itching to get going. I need to hike!!!
The border is so much better than the pct’s. It’s only a little barbed wire fence, nothing obtrusive to the landscape. I’m with five other hikers, grapenut (who I hiked with a bit on the PCT last year, rest stop, viper, mud kit, and Eric. We take a group picture, I get a few more, and within ten minutes of being dropped off I’m hiking north, to Canada!
It feels good. The sun is warm, the breeze is at my back, and I’m on the trail – finally! It’s flat, easy hiking at first, and my knees are happy for that. I’ve never had knee problems before, but man have they been tender since the Zion 100k a month ago. It has me worried for sure. After a few miles we enter the big hatchet mountains via a drainage, an stay low between high, dry summits above us. I talk with Grapenut about his winter, why he’s doing the trail, and what he’s most excited for. He’s got tiny hot pink shorts this year, which surprised me. It’s awesome!
Eventually we get to the first water cache about 15 miles in. The CDTC stocks the water caches for the first 85 miles to lordsburg, and they’re spaced roughly 12-20 miles apart. This makes the water hauls minimal. Shout out to the CDTC and al their volunteers for this! Although it doesn’t feel like I’m really embracing any brutality here, rather getting pampered. I’ll take it!
I leave the water cache a bit earlier than grapenut and mud pit, and find myself hugging the lower flanks of hatchet peak. It’s beautiful, tall cliffs stretching into the warm sky. I pass the next water cache only 12 miles ahead around 5:00 and refill on water before heading out. To the east is vast, open desert. The nearest bumps must be 30+ miles away.
Much of the day there is no real trail. I would say 25% of the hike was on two tracks, maybe 40% on trail, and the other 35% was just going from market to marker however you please, with no distinct trail. The markers are spaced nicely though – so it was very easy to follow all day.
I hike through the sunset and watch the colors fade as the stars start to reveal their light. I set up a nice cowboy camp in a little wash that is shaded from the wind, which has been blowing pretty steadily all day. It’s just me out here, laying on the ground, stars above me. I can’t remember not smiling today. Not once after I hit the trail. How nice it is to be back.
Day 2 Sunday May 10
Roughly 41 miles
I rise at 5:45 to the first light. I’m groggy. But the kind of groggy that only happens when you sleep like a baby. What a great night! I quickly pack my things and down a liter of malto for breakfast. Maltodextrin is something I’m trying on this hike. It’s roughly 400 calories per bottle the way I mix it. Drinkable calories, great for the desert! Handy Andy turned me on to it this winter. It’s delicious. I hike an old two track past the little hatchet mountains when I catch what looks like a snake in my next step. I quickly jolt backwards, avoiding stepping on what I soon find out is a rattle snake. A smaller guy, maybe 2 feet or a little less, who is soaking in the first light of the morning. He didn’t even rattle! I could have stepped right on him, that little jerk. I wonder if he’s ok (probably saving energy from a cold night, so I touch him with my pole (from a distance) and the snake goes nuts! He coils up, puts his head high, and rattles like crazy. He’s alive! I apologize and scold him for not warning me the first time before I take some videos and pictures. Cool – a rattler!
The rest of the day is a cruise, it’s hot, but not too hot. I hike through the coyote hills, and through a great open expense where I can see pyramid peak in the distance. The landscape is unreal. There is literally nothing here!
As the sun starts to set I get to a road under pyramid peak. I’m happy, because the open expanse would have been impossible to navigate at night. However, the road under pyramid is easy to follow, and the countries of the mountain make it easy to understand where to hike. I end up hiking only an hour or two in the dark before calling it quits. I’m pretty spent, but aside for my knees my body feels fantastic. I’m loving this desert experience! Navigating and doing it all on my own has been a real treat. I stop every five miles or so, make a thing of malto, rest my feet, re pack my food into my fanny pack, check the maps if I need to, and make sure my water is full on the outside of my pack (if I have a 2 liter platypus full, I keep it in my backpack, so I like making sure my external water bottles are handy for when I’m moving). It takes maybe ten minutes, all the while I have my feet elevated and resting. It’s worked well so far!
Day 3 – Monday May 11th
Miles hiked – unknown
I wake up early and head out. Soon I see a wagon and a little farm. I may or may not have nosed around, as I was interested. The wagon had a bed and some food supplies – it looked awesome. A little rancher tent of sorts. I wonder who last used it that way? It was unlocked, but there were no cattle or signs of people around. Strange. I spend the rest of the early morning hiking to lordsburg, getting in before noon. My knee is flaring up real bad today – super tight in the morning. I should probably relax and slow down, but I feel like a kid at a candy store out here. I’m so wound up – so excited to hike! It’s beautiful, and I want to see more! Plus, this malto is giving me great, consistent energy. It’s awesome. I’ll take off today, in hopes of getting 15 or so more miles to put silver city within a day and a half hike. I’m excited to get there. Maybe take a nearo? I hear the brewery is great!
At the border!
The first of literally hundreds!
Desert hiking. Hot. So dry. Perfect!
Looking back at big hatchet mountain as I begin to hike into the night on day 1.