CDT Day 143 — November 15
Silver City to who knows where?
Comfort Inn Waffle Camp to Camp Now, No Rush Camp
Miles hiked: 15.5
Total miles: 2582.6
Today we began what feels to me like the last leg of the CDT. There is still one more town between here and the Mexican border, but our finishing date has been arranged and I don’t expect many surprises between now and then. Less than 150 miles of desert left to go. What is that, one week? My backpack is heavier than it has ever been, but I’m not worried about the weight. I know that my body can handle it by now. No, I’m concerned with living each day to its fullest, soaking in the freedom while I still have it. Change is coming. The CDT will end. But there are still many steps before that happens. I can’t forget to look at my feet when I’m drawn to what is beyond the horizon. That can wait.
I slept well in a cooler room, but was still awake at 6am with no hope of grabbing a snooze. I snuck down to the buffet for another round of waffles and potatoes. I tried to ignore the depressing news that flickered by on the giant TV. Why does there need to be a giant TV in the breakfast room? Spice joined me after an hour and many waffles, then we climbed back to the room to pack up. Between the veggie sausages, tortillas, vegan cheese slices, stack of pb&js, sleeve of bagels, a salad, and five burritos, my food bag possessed the mass of a small sun. It overflowed in the corner of the room, daring me to hoist it by the fragile plastic handles into my backpack. It looked intimidating, but oh so delicious. I couldn’t wait to find myself hungry once more.
Campfire had a flight to catch in Albuquerque, so we checked out of our room and said farewell in the parking lot. She was feeling fine now after a restful day off the trail and even sounded positive about the whole experience. I was glad to hear that. It really was a blast to have her along and almost laughable how difficult that section was. We promised her that it would be easier next time.
While we waited around for the Rooster and Crunchberry to get ready, I tried not to stress out about how late it was going to be by the time we started hiking. We’ve given ourselves a cushy amount of time to make it to the border, so we can kind of take it easy. However, after rushing to beat the snow in Colorado, then rushing to beat the snow in northern New Mexico, then rushing to Taco Bell, then rushing to meet Campfire, I was having trouble making the mental switch to ‘chill’ mode. It’s okay. There is time. Breathe. Having hiked the PCT NOBO, with snow and fire pressure all the way through the end, this is my first opportunity to draw out the end of a thru-hike. It’s a different vibe. I like it, but it’s weird.
We finally did get going. Shenanigans dropped us all off where Campfire picked us up the night before. I ate a bagel, we snapped some photos, then we got moving on the trail, which was a dirt road here. At 75°F and sunny, it was genuinely warm as we walked between the cliffs of Blackhawk Canyon. I realized that maybe I would need to start thinking about water again and Spice hiked in a tank top for the first time. A few gunshots echoed off the rock, but we kept moving with an indifference that acknowledged our inability to protect ourselves if people with guns wanted to harm us. We pumped Taylor Swift’s Reputation through Gronk to get us up the sandy road.
We turned off the road up a dry wash before stopping for lunch in the shade of a shady tree. I ate a pb&j and as many sausages and tortillas as I could before reading out loud to the group from the trashy romance novel I picked up in Silver City. It was not good, but intriguing nonetheless. How will their forbidden love survive!?! Then we all continued on the trail, following CDT crests for the first time since leaving them for the Gila River alternate, winding through desert trees, occasionally on rough dirt road, mostly on smooth dirt trail. We moved generally uphill, but it was gradual and the views north to bigger hills were worth the effort. Alligator juniper stole the show from the other desert scrub with twisted trunks of bare wood and bark scales.
Spice and I lost RoostBerry when they hiked just a touch faster than us. A few hours later, we happened upon their two packs, alone on the dirt. This confused us greatly, and I ate a burrito while my brain worked out where they could be. Of course they were probably searching for water off trail, but my mind came up with some thrilling alternatives from animal attack to alien abduction. Nighttime was coming on now, so Spice and I left them there to take advantage of the fading light, hoping to see the dudes alive again.
The trail traversed a steep hillside, in and out of gullies carved by a multitude of creeks that likely only see water after it rains. Views to the north remained quality as the sunlight faded for good. And, despite the short day, we faded shortly after. Maybe it was the draining warmth, or maybe it was the heavy food on my back, but my energy dropped like a stone without wings. I suggested to Spice that we stop when the ground flattened out in a little over one mile and she enthusiastically agreed. It was just one of those days, and like I said, there was no reason to rush.
A flat spot on soft dirt was easy to find near the next dirt road. We set up to cowboy camp and watched an episode of Terrace House while eating the salads we packed out from town. Luxury. Crunchberry and Rooster were surprised to see us when they showed up a bit later. “Are you taking a break? What, you’re camping? But it’s only 6pm? I thought y’all would be hiking for a couple more hours, I just drank half of a 5-hour Energy. Heck yeah, we’ll stop here too.” And so all of us are camped early, in the warm desert, under some alligator juniper, eating salads. This whole ‘taking it easy’ thing is alright. I can get used to this.