CDT Day 146 — November 18
Lordsburg to Cedar Mountain
Final Town Camp to ISS Spotting Camp
Miles hiked: 13.7
Total miles: 2644.6
The Safety Kids started the day with serious questions about the end of the trail. Would the coming rain actually show up? Would it make the roads to the border impassible? Would they need to hike 27 miles back to the nearest paved road after reaching the border? Would they be invited to join a Mennonite enclave? Robbed by mysterious, shady characters? Many of those questions still exist, but the important one about 27 bonus miles was resolved with a phone call. Good vibes came with the good news and the crew made use of the easier schedule by taking it easy. Late start, early end. Heads in the stars.
I joined Rooster and Crunchberry at the motel breakfast buffet around 6:30am after an alright night of sleep. My mind and heart were still a little twisted, but I was confident that what sleep brain couldn’t figure out, hiking brain could handle. Hiking will fix this. A hiker’s portion of mini waffles and oatmeal left me feeling awful. Hiking will fix this too. Spice went out to put the finishing touches on her resupply while I made some important phone calls, then we joined the dudes in the motel lobby, packs packed, ready to get going on this final 85 miles of CDT. At 10:30am, we got going.
The sun was on full blast, but the morning was still cool as we finished our walk through scenic Lordsburg. Spirits were high and the desert looked beautiful. My heavy pack full of soda and yummy food dragged me down, straining my shoulders and giving my feet a little something extra. I told myself that I was a heavy boulder, a being of the earth, and that this feeling was a good thing. How is it that my heaviest pack of the trail came on the last section, a short section?
We turned off the road onto gravel trail, a large CDT crest and map kiosk marking the junction. It quickly disappeared into a plain of tall desert bushes, widely spaced for easy travel. More CDT signs poked above them at regular intervals, marking our way. Pyramid Peak scraped the sky ahead, slowly moving closer. Like Lordsburg yesterday, it was pointless to use intuition to guess the distance. The desert stretches miles, but if the trail is straight then those miles disappear with satisfying rapidity. I knew we would be on the other side of the mountain eventually. Some time in the future. I didn’t worry about it too much.
My phone rang as we were passing through a fence. Jeffrey, the dude who shuttles hikers to and from the border and stocks the water caches of this section, was returning my message. With significant rain in the forecast over the next few days, we were concerned about how the condition of the rough dirt road would be affected. My parents were planning to grab us from the border. Under the best conditions, extraction would be an adventure for their subaru. Mud might make it impossible. Without a ride, the crew would potentially need to reverse the last 27 miles to the nearest paved road. That’s a lot of bonus miles. We were prepared for this, part of the reason why my pack was so heavy, but would need to plan accordingly by hiking harder now. The conversation with Jeffery was entertaining and eased our concerns tremendously. He told us exactly what we wanted to hear. Someone would get us from the border. My parents, Jeffery himself, or border patrol if it came to that. He also warned us about the risk of gear theft at the border. Don’t get drawn across the border to hang out with Mennonites. Someone else might steal your gear. Got it. Cool, so now we had plenty of time to get to Mexico. We sat down on the spot for a break.
It was hard to mobilize once more. The warm sun sapped our energy, filling us with lethargy while draining us of moisture. By the time we realized what was happening, I was already a little sun delirious. A little Oreo delirious too. I laughed at how instantly useless we became once our mission lost urgency. Once we were on our feet again, we found a dirt road to follow parallel to the trail. Gronk bumped the tunes as we hiked together, Pyramid a little closer now.
A tire trough full of water and slime provided entertainment, nothing more. Fortunately, reports on the next source allowed us to skip that one with confidence. Two hours later we were on the other side of the mountain, scaring away cows, climbing a ladder to fill our bottles with clear agua from a pipe. Lunch in the shade of the tall tank, shoes off, sitting in the dirt. Eventually we became overwhelmed by cow farts, or maybe our own. Time to hike again, I guess.
We were 10 miles in at this point. Even with our easier schedule, this level of leisure left us shocked. Shocked, but not concerned. In fact, we decided to camp early, with the sunset. This decision had roots in necessity as well as laziness. The dirt road persisted for an hour after the water, but the trail then broke right to sign hop once more through the brush. This style of hiking was easy going with daylight, but inefficient in the dark. The signs would be difficult to find by headlamp and we were all about keeping things casual now, not difficult.
When the high clouds transitioned from high white to golden glow we found a flat spot with minimal pricklies to call home. Crunchberry used some magic app to track the International Space Station across the sky for some dinnertime entertainment. There are humans in there. That little dot of light streaking across the stars. Amazing. Are they closer to us now than we are to the Canadian border? *head explode* With my head in the sky, I felt small. Interestingly, the feeling made our accomplishment feel larger. Small things moving across a large distance. I thought about ants trekking across a kitchen floor or across a sidewalk. We are the ants! All of a sudden, it hit me that there are only three days left. It felt like a week to go just yesterday. What happened? That did it for me. Too much thinking. I put my head down to gaze at the stars, then shut down instantly. No more thinking.