April 25th, 2019
Cache 5 mm 78.3 – Engineer’s Windmill mm 100.1
Distance in miles: 21.8
I didn’t sleep very well overnight because my legs were hurting, mostly my hips. But I woke feeling rested. The morning was nice with the trail winding through the hills to town. There is a road walk that shaves a couple miles and avoids a lot of ups and downs…many take it. But I’m here to walk the trail when there is one and was rewarded with seeing lots of birds and rabbits.
I met a really nice french couple along the way. This was their first long thru-hike and also first time in the US but they seemed to be handling things well so far. Their English was pretty good at least. They had spent some time in Africa and picked their own trail names, which are in Swahili and I couldn’t even begin to pronounce or say. They translate into white hyena and clipjumper (a kind of antelope). Cool names but I think they are going to get tired of having to explain all the time and just end being called “the French couple” by other hikers. I like a trail name that needs little explanation other than pointing to a tree branch but to each his own.
The tendon in the back of my knee started hurting after awhile, which is the same ailment that has been nagging Salty and P’Diddy. It must be contagious. Suddenly I was tired of walking and just wanted to be in town. The last 2 miles were on road and a bit tedious. But finally I made it to the Econolodge and was greeted by Lisa and Ray, the managers. Tracy, another hiker, walked in and invited me to come relax in his room. I was hoping to find someone around so I could take a shower and ice my tendon, so this worked out perfectly.
Tracy’s ankle had been hurting so badly that he skipped the last 20 miles and got a ride in with Trail Angel Apple. He is older and a bit heavyset. It’s also his first thru-hike but he is very determined. He picked the CDT because all his family are spread out along New Mexico and Colorado. I can’t blame him, family support is nice.
I got my resupply box (which I brought with me on the ride from Colorado) and efficiently took care of all my town chores. I did some shower laundry but most of my stuff still seems pretty clean…it’s only been 3 full days of walking after all. I sat on the bed trying to upload blogs but was getting nothing but technical errors. There’s a plugin that is involved in publishing posts from the WordPress app and it constantly returns errors. The app also seems to be really messed up. This all just made me really pissy and want to get out of town, so I did.
My original plan was to hitch from Lordsburg to Silver City for trail days. But I had a full day before things started on Friday. Why not get some more miles in? Lisa had pointed out where the trail crossed the road on our way into town, so I knew there was a good bailout 20 some miles ahead. And there was a water supply and campsite in 15 miles, a distance that was still doable in the afternoon.
I could have easily done anything different. Several trail angels were giving rides to Silver City that afternoon. Or I could have stayed in Tracy’s room, which he had paid for but wasn’t using that night since he was going to Silver City too. My 3 hiking buddies had also gotten a room and invited me to stay. Salty had a good point that I should rest my leg.
But no, I am too stubborn and driven. Once I hatch an idea of how to get in more miles, I can’t let it go. Tracy had offered to take my resupply box to Silver City so I was all set. I loaded up one day’s worth of food, dropped by the McDonald’s for a sandwich, and hit the road at 2:30 pm. It was blazing hot. I had dunked my shirt, buff and arm sleeves in the sink at McDonald’s but the cool relief barely lasted to the city limits. It was about a 3 mile road walk out of town, every bit of which was pretty crappy. The heat was radiating off the tarseal. When did it get so hot?
I thought once I made it to the trail, things would get better. I came to a place where the fence poles were painted blue and the fence slightly pulled up but that was it. This is what counts for a trailhead on the CDT. I scrambled under the fence, getting tumble weed stickers in my hand in the process. I then put up my umbrella and have never enjoyed the relief it brought as much as I did today.
I set out through the most barren wasteland yet. It was mostly baked red earth and tumble weeds. How awful. There were few markers, almost no trail, and it was clear that this parcel didn’t enjoy the trail going through very much. I did see Peanut’s tracks, which I’ve been following forever it seems, and that gave me comfort. The one redeeming point was that I got to see a pair of burrowing owls.
For hours, my legs hurt, I was hot, and I wasn’t sure I had enough water. Why didn’t I just stay in town? I kept going with my music cranking and came across a guy, Wrong Way, huddled under what barely counts as a tree. He was feeling the same as me. “Just gotta make it to the water source!” I proclaimed and hurried on.
The landscape did improve to have more cactus, yuccas, and bushes. I was enjoying the scenery at least. With about 6 miles left to go, I had 1 liter of water and wished I had more for once. I sipped at it with reserve, making it last until the very last mile. I needed it just to wet my mouth occasionally, which had gone dry long ago. I was even starting to feel a bit nauseated. Not good. The last few miles were all up and in sand, so I was working hard.
The windmill rose in the distance, my savior. I hit the 100 mile marker just before but I was too thirsty to stop and take a picture. There was another hiker at the trough, BearMan, guzzling like crazy. A few bulls were also waiting their turn and looking pissed that we were hogging the water. Good thing they were on the other side of the fence.
Oh what sweet relief. I downed a couple liters and then pitched my tent. I still felt ill and knew I needed to eat. Once I got some electrolytes and food in me, I felt revived. At once I was happy to be out in this peaceful setting, much better than a sad, stuffy hotel room. It was worth the hot death march after all.