CDT Day 147 — November 19
Cedar Mountain to Coyote Hills
ISS Spotting Camp to Dead Giveaway Camp
Miles hiked: 23
Total miles: 2667.6
The desert flowed by today, either by signpost or dirt road. We exited the hills, crossed a flat, then climbed(for the last time on the CDT for sure) into some more hills. The day started warm, but the weather has shifted and by the end of the day, puddles covered the trail. The rain is here. Lunch featured a pair of Youtube videos that I fear will stick with us for the rest of the hike and I spent the rest of the day looping them in my head. While today seemed routine, these final days feel anything but. Each view, meal, water source, or moment is one of a diminishing number. No more taking them for granted.
The night treated me well. SpiceRack and I snoozed as long as we could until we could ignore the others’ movement no more. The glorious colors of the sunrise began painting the sky while our gear was still in an ordered mess on the ground. By the time we caught the first direct rays on our faces, we were on our feet, packs on, in between CDT signs, headed south.
We left the hills around Cedar Mountain behind, following a straight line to the next layer of distant lumps on the horizon. Bushes gave way to lumpy brown grass and patches of bare dirt. Though there was zero tread to follow, walking was easy and, between the four of us, we had zero trouble locating the next sign in the vast landscape.
To the north, the weather looked pretty darn good. To the south however, reports of a storm system blowing up from Mexico were looking accurate. A cloud ceiling moved in, casting the desert in shadow except for a few dancing pillars of light hanging from the quilted gray. And it sounds crazy, but the air smelled like Mexico to me. I think it was the raised humidity. I might have imagined it, but it fits the narrative darn well. With my thermometer pushing 80°F, the clouds brought welcome relief from the sun and appreciated drama to my pictures. Clouds rule.
Another nasty tire trough filled with green slime came and went. Pyramid Peak diminished behind us. We crawled under a few barbed wire fences, handing our packs carefully across. After three hours on the move and one such crossing, we stopped for a tea break that quickly transformed into a classic session of getting dehydrated in the sun. Sundrunk and rested, we threw rocks into a muddy cow puddle that got in our way. Ahh, simple pleasures.
Trouble found us when we tried to get clever by following a dirt road instead of the trail. It’s a trick that has worked in the past, but this time we ran into a clearly inhabited collection of ranch buildings. Getting across the private property was going to take a healthier dose of trespassing than Crunchberry or I were comfortable with. The dog welcoming committee didn’t inspire confidence either. We both turned around without discussion. Spice and Rooster followed, but I had a feeling they would have gone for it. The dogs turned out to be total sweethearts, and we found our way back to the trail by trespassing across an emptier part of the property without trouble. No problemo. A short stretch across orange sand put us at a paved road, then the first of the water caches that the CDTC maintains for hikers. Lunch.
Lunch was the highlight of my day. Crunchberry and Rooster showed us two videos(1,2) that they’d been talking about for days, providing all the comedic material we’ll need for the rest of the year. Those combined with a reading from the romance novel kept the laughs coming as I got down on some yummy things and a green chia drank. Spice also got her first baby Dr. Pepper, selflessly sharing it with the rest of us even without knowing that there are plenty more to go ‘round. Now that’s friendship!
The lightning and thunder started just in time for us to follow the trail up to an exposed metal post at the start of the Coyote Hills. I gave Rooster and Spice a little extra space ahead of me just in case they got zapped. The rain came with the light show. The others put on their rain jackets and I put up my umbrella. Its total ineffectiveness against the sideways blowing rain was noted. My right side was soaked in short order(dead giveaway), but the warm temperature kept me comfortable so I put my umbrella away. Let it happen. Now you’re liquid cooled. It felt gooooood. The rain kicked up a cornucopia of rich aromas as well. The desert transformed all around us. Dust to mud. Mud to puddle.
The signs led us to a dirt road as the rain came and went. It finally went for good after about two hours, though the sky remained ominously lumpy and dark. We echoed each other with misremembered lines from the videos endlessly.
Was dry roasted.
In the peanuts.
Dead giveaway. We eat ribs with this dude!
and so on. Crunch climbed a ladder for pipe water, then we dodged puddles out of the hills into the next flat. By the time cloud darkness transitioned to real darkness, my clothes were mostly dry. Again, we were concerned with struggling through bushes by headlamp, so we set up camp on the trampled flat around a trough. And not too soon. The raging storm and rain returned as we piled into our tents. Lightning flashes and the tent vibrates. Coyotes cry in the distance through the cacophony. Dead Giveaway loops in my brain. Cool day. Awesome weather. Dead giveaway.