CDT Day 145:
Hombrook Mountain to Lordsburg, NM
Don’t Want it to End Camp to Final Town Camp
Miles hiked: 21.9
Total miles: 2630.9
The group checked off a few milestones today. We made it to Lordsburg, the final town stop of our CDT saga, we crossed the 100-miles-left-to-Mexico line, and we completed the final climb of the trail(definitely for sure this time). In addition, I finished my bagels and pb&js from Silver City. Yep, big accomplishments. Following with recent tradition, my brain and heart battled it out, logic vs. emotion, as the end moved one day closer. I’m seeking to balance the two, but am coming to realize that riding the waves is inevitable. The balance is dynamic. What a ride.
The familiar rustling started as usual around 4:30am. The dudes were awake and making breakfast. SpiceRack and I slept in as usual, lingering as long as we dared. We were still packed up and hiking before sunrise at around 6:15am. I inhaled a bagel as I hiked fast, just because it felt right. Awake, feeling good, use it. I passed Spice and pushed hard through a maze of alligator juniper and desert scrub. Once the sun said hello, I hiked even harder up a steep road to catch the most expansive view of the sunrise that I could. Now, THIS is definitely the last climb of the CDT. Near the top, Crunchberry popped out of the bushes with a yell, successfully scaring the snot out of me. Waves of featureless humps separated by glowing haze lapped at the horizon. The scrub at our feet caught fire in the orange light.
Crunch told me about the wonders of the swamps in the southeastern USA as we finished the (final)climb. All downhill from here, for sure this time, we joked. Sunscreen application, another bagel, another poop. By the time I was done with these essential chores, the dudes were gone and Spice was cresting the hill. We began the long descent to Lordsburg on dirt road. Spice wanted to mosey, but I had too much pep in my step and preferred to get to town with daylight to spare. 21 miles? Okay, if we average 3mph(we won’t), then it will still take 7 hours to get there. 6:15am + 7hrs = 1:15pm. Add a couple breaks, we’re pushing 3 or 4pm. Gotta go, there’s not time! That’s what was running through my mind. The dudes were in agreement and we held a small intervention for Spice. That put us all on the same page, but it was another thing to actually do it.
The Safety Kids(the name of our crew. Spice and the Farts is also an option.) rolled out on a sandy road through some hills. Rooster peed a line in the sand marking 100 miles left to Mexico, and we crossed it with little ceremony. We sat in the sand near the spot for a short break. I celebrated by finishing off my bagels. The number meant little to me. Still, it gave a relatable distance to focus on. I remembered clearly mile 100 on the PCT. It seemed like a long way at the time, but by the end of that hike, covering 100 miles had become routine. On the CDT, 100-mile sections were trying in the early days, but felt like the norm since leaving Salida. 100 miles will disappear in no time. I decided not to worry about it until Lordsburg, 15 miles away.
The sight as we exited the hills was intimidating. Lordsburg spread across the flat desert impossibly close and far away at the same time. I looked for trucks on the interstate in vain. Too far away. I wanted to believe that it was near, but knew from the true mileage that it would take many hours to reach it, somehow. This will be torture. At least we have road to follow the whole way. That’s what I thought until we discovered that we had missed our turn off of the road. Nope, the trail was actually trail, sometimes. We hopped between signs spaced roughly 100 yards apart, occasionally following decent tread, mostly making our own way around the prickly desert plants. Navigation was easy though. Our route was nothing more than a straight line to those buildings way over there.
I turned on the jets, a little frustrated after the entire group stopped to chat when I pulled over to pee. My brain was still finding cause for urgency even when none existed, struggling to be at peace with the natural desire for closeness that slows groups. It confused me. I needed to hike this out of my system, replace frustration with exhaustion and I did my best. Although it didn’t totally work, remorse and loneliness got the better of me after a couple hours and I stopped for a break at a road crossing under some power lines. I laughed when it became clear that my best efforts hadn’t separated me from the group at all. Rooster was right on my tail, and the others were just a few minutes behind. I gave in. The end will not be rushed. The end should not be rushed. I ate the last soggy pb&j then kicked back for a snooze.
We all took it easy the last six miles to town, eventually giving up on the CDT sign posts, choosing our own straight line towards a water tower. A baby rattlesnake gave us something to think about, then we were crawling under a barbed wire fence and walking down Hwy 90 into Lordsburg. The depressing outskirts of the depressed town were made more cheerful when a local, Alonso, pulled into a parking lot and offered us soda from his cooler. His kindness and brief history of the area softened my perspective. Another sad decline of a thriving community in an ever-changing world.
What remained of the glory of Lordsburg was just enough for us hikers. Still carrying quite a load of food, I managed to piece together my final resupply at the Dollar General out of odd bits of candy and cookies. And don’t tell Spice, but I buried a 6-pack of mini Dr. Pepper cans in my pack for the days ahead. What? I’m so stupid. We all checked in to the Econolodge then headed for an early dinner at Kranberry’s across the road. A salad, burrito, and onion rings did the trick for a minute, but Spice and I started cooking a pot of spaghetti as soon as we got back to our room.
A shower, a long talk about feelings, a short walk through a scary place. I finally felt ready to eat some pasta and hang out. The other three were down the hall, watching Dumb and Dumber, a classic that we’ve been quoting for a few weeks now. When the commercials finally let it finish it was well past bedtime. Bed was all I wanted, to sleep off the confusion in my chest. Too much happening in my brain this evening. Time to let my brain figure it out in the night and start fresh in the morning. The last night in town as a thru-hiker. Woah.