On Thursday I got up early to get a good start for the walk out of Lordsburg. A continental breakfast slowed me down a little, but I was okay with that. The Econolodge in Lordsburg is kind of like the unofficial headquarters for starting the CDT. Volunteers who are running the shuttle service stay for about a month and hikers beginning the trail usually stay there the night before as well as hikers who have walked into town from the border. Also some hikers are laid up there due to an early injury waiting to heal before getting back on trail. So the breakfast room was pretty busy at 5:30 in the morning with hikers eager to start which made for a fun way to begin the day. Queen B and I knew we had about 15 miles of flat, hot, dry desert before the trail started to climb into the cooler mountains of the Gila Wilderness. We also planned on crushing big miles that day (which we did) so wanted to get a jump on the day.
We ripped across the flat waterless section walking fast and rationing our water because it was a total of 18 miles to the first water source (a windmill that pumped nice cool clean water from the ground). Carrying water can be a tough balance. It’s something I’m always aware of especially in dry sections. How many miles until the next water, and how much do I have left are questions I need to know the answer to at all times. I never want to carry too much because it’s heavy but also don’t want to carry too little because I’ll dry up. I eat salty foods to help stay hydrated and look out for signs of dehydration. A liter is roughly 2 lbs and I try not to carry more than 3 at any given time. That’s pretty much my max. If I’ve got a 20 mile waterless section I’ll camel up at a water source and then take about 3 liters with me. Ideally I’d like to carry a liter or less and that’s definitely manageable in wetter areas. On the AT for example I rarely carried more than a liter and usually about half of one. I apologize for all this boring water talk but it’s a subject that’s often discussed. The rest of the day went smoothly and at 31 miles was our biggest day so far. We camped at the trailhead for Burro Peak where we met Colleen and Robert who were just beginning a motorcycle trip back and forth across the US, sounded pretty rad. Non-hikers take note.
Friday was pretty non eventful except that it was a really beautiful day as the trail rolled through Gila Wilderness. We finally encountered our first natural water sources but we never came across another human being all day, it was desolate out there. If the day was uneventful, Friday night was a different story. We dropped down into Saddle Rock canyon around 6:30 and this place was sweet! There was a water source here and the canyon walls provided coverage from potential wind while the floor was sandy soft and flat. A primo campsite, besides the fact that it was in an arroyo or a wash. The skies were clear however and we took our chances that a flash flood wasn’t coming through. Plus I had an escape route planned just in case.
Around 1 am I woke up to some rustling and looked up to see a gigantic black bear about 20 feet away, first I thought it was a cow but then realized this was a huge bear. Biggest I’ve ever seen. If I was alone I probably would have tried to yell it off right away but I didn’t want to wake QB (you gotta get your sleep out here). I watched it for about 20 minutes and it didn’t pay any mind to us but still made me uneasy. Then it moved to a ledge just behind us but out of view. I layed still for awhile and after a few minutes of not hearing anything I got up out of my sleeping bag and on my knees facing the bear who at the same time propped himself up and was staring right back at me. I think this is when he first noticed me. We stared at each other for what felt like 4-5 minutes in a New Mexican standoff but was probably more like 30 seconds. Finally I blinked, I clapped my hiking sticks together a couple times and the bear took off up the canyon while also waking up QB. I should have just done that in the first place. My adrenaline was pumping and I definitely had trouble sleeping the rest of the night. Queen B unsuccessfully attempted to lull me to sleep by reading Huck Finn but in the end she just put herself to sleep. I spent the next 4 hours trying to sleep but also looking up at the stars and enjoying tons of shooters. That was a real night; sleeping on a canyon floor, getting visited in the middle of the night by a huge bear, and being entertained for hours by shooting stars. I’ll take that over tossing and turning in my bed at home anytime.
I couldn’t sleep so around 5:30 just got walking. It was cool for awhile, hiking through Saddle rock canyon during sunrise but after about 5 miles the trail reaches the road and you have to follow that into town. It’s a 13 mile long roadwalk to Silver City, the highway kind. It was tedious and I was tired, but since we didn’t dilly dally we ended up getting into town around 1pm and were able to enjoy the rest of the day in town.
Silver City is sweet! This place is a blend of artists, musicians, hippies, eccentrics and outdoor people. We met this guy Jean-Robert who let us crash in his incredible art gallery. This place was awesome, I can’t do it justice by describing it so check it out on insta @a.spacegallery. Easily one of the coolest indoor places I’ve ever spent the night. Oh and I got a new shirt at a thrift store here in town. Lots of turquoise for the Land of Enchantment. My other one was literally falling apart at the seams, I even had to patch a big hole before leaving Lordsburg with a piece of a pillow case I found in a hiker box and some superglue.
This morning I spoiled myself by sleeping in until 7 which was nice and I’m super excited about the section coming up. I’ll be hiking along the Gila river, supposed to be awesome! So stay tuned, and follow me on insta for pics of this adventure @endlesspsummer