I leave Lordsburg mid afternoon and follow the highway for several miles before the trail veers off to the east. It’s hot, and flat as can be. I pick what looks to be the side of the mountain where engineer pass is and head that way. Sometimes I find signs, but mostly I’m just walking in a general direction. My pack is heavy with water – I took out 5 liters since I’m heading out mid day, in the heat of the sun. After what seems like forever I finally hit trail and the navigating becomes easier. I still feel pretty good as I head up to engineer pass. The sun starts to set, and I’m treated to an amazing sunset. I keep hiking for an hour or two past dark as I feel good and it’s nice and cool. I get misplaced a few times but am able to find my way back to the trail pretty easily. I find a nice flat place to lay down and decide to call it a night. I can’t believe how well I’m feeling. I also can’t believe I haven’t seen another hiker on trail all day, though I did see two hikers in the econo lodge (bill and mike), but not on trail.
Day 5 – Tuesday May 12
Miles hiked – a little over 40
I have trouble falling asleep. It’s happened nearly every night. My body has had such trouble turning off. I’m so excited to go and see what’s out here that I’m not able to relax enough to get a good nights sleep. Around 1 am a huge wind comes out of nowhere. It doesn’t stop. I look at my watch and see time moving at a snails pace. It’s 3:30 am, screw it. I pack up my gear in the dark and head out. I’m not just going to sit there and be awake doing nothing.
Groggily, I stumble forward in the dark. Full zombie mode. My body feels rested and ready to hike, but my brain won’t turn on. I feel messed up, but just keep putting one foot in front of the other and continuing on. The night seemed to go on forever. I need my body to calm down. But how do I turn it off? It’s a strange feeling. I had this last year on the pct as well when I started, the only difference was my body wasn’t able to keep going. This year I got myself into good hiking shape, and it’s paid off with how I feel. Plus, I’ve heard your second thru hike is always much easier physically than your first. At least in regards to your body adapting to the rigors of hiking all day.
Finally it starts getting light out and I drink a ton of malto splashed with caffeinated drink mix. I feel better now, though still groggy. It’s overcast and windy as all get up. Luckily there are trees in this section that break the wind at least a little bit. I feel pretty beat all day, but my body just keeps hiking. Moving forward is nearly effortless, but keeping my mind sharp is a struggle. I need to sleep.
The scenery is pretty bland most of the way. I get up high next to a peak with tons of cell towers. I think I was Jacks peak. I can’t see much as the clouds are hanging low. It’s still windy, and surprisingly chilly under the clouds. I wear my wind shirt and wind pants with my fleece hat all day. It feels good. I also eat a boat load of chocolate. It all melted the previous day, but today it’s edible without making a giant mess. This diet is so good.
On the way down burrow peak my left knee starts to flare up again. It’s steep, and I think I’ve been overusing it. I hobble to the road, highway 90 an hour or so before sunset. I decide to push on the last miles into town in the dark. The road has a huge shoulder, so I feel safe on it at night. Surprisingly, the flat, smooth hiking helps my knee a bit. I start to crash, so I put in th headphones and wobble my way into town, finding myself at the palace hotel, which is the first hotel in town and right next to the brewery. I get a very cheap tiny Victorian room and immediately shower with my shirt and shorts on. A shower and laundry in one! I grab a burger and beer at the brewery before calling it a night in this tiny little place. Tomorrow I’ll be waiting on a box, so I’ll likely take close to a zero, a nearo, before heading off on the walnut route and then the Gila alternate. I can’t wait to hike the Gila, I’ve been excited about it ever since my buddy Dirtmonger showed me the map of it and told me how many times he had to cross the river in a single day (I think he said something around 100 times). Here’s to hoping I sleep well and wake up refreshed and not too sore…