CDT Day 148 — November 20
Coyote Hills to Big Hatchet Mountains
Dead Giveaway Camp to Dead Giveaway Camp 2.0
Miles hiked: 27
Total miles: 2694.6
A simple day with spectacular accents. From a trail perspective, there was not a whole lot to distinguish today from the last, but timing can change everything. I could hike this trail every year for the rest of my life(haha, no) and each section would feel different every time, if not for the weather or season, then for the change of personnel, the different jokes, even the different food. And I will never be able to repeat the penultimate day on my first hike of the CDT. The trail is a stage where we lucky few act out our lives, taking what we’re given, not looking back or thinking about what could have been. That sun could have been brutally hot, the rain could have been miserably cold, I could have listened better or hugged longer. Nope, the moment is passed and by now we’ve learned to see what is in front, forgetting about what might be around the corner until we make the turn. The double rainbow deserves no less than one’s full presence in the moment, yet the double rainbow demands nothing. The same goes for each footstep, each plant and animal, each person. We make of the world what we choose. What kind of world do you choose? Because it is a choice. Which things get what they deserve?
The rain poured in fits and starts all night, mirroring my sleep. I was clammy and warm, unused to the humidity that blew in with the storm. I finally managed to find some rest in the morning, but the others’ movement told me the jig was up all too soon. Getting up was super worth it though. The rain was on hold while we packed up, but began again as sunrise hit, catching the orange light, filling the air with it. We were in the sunrise, not just watching it. In it. The full arc a double rainbow hummed behind us. It was kind of a lot to take in, but I tried.
The good views continued when we started hiking around 7am. Cloud drama. Dirt road to start, sign hopping through bushes after that. Classic CDT. We curved around the tail end of the Coyote Hills to Hwy 9 where we met a friendly dog getting ready for a muddy walk. Crunchberry and I filled our bottles at another water cache while border patrol gave us all the hairy eyeball. Four hobos walking south, nothing to see here. We stuck to the pavement for a few miles to avoid ‘shwhacking on gooey mud. Gronk tried its best, but Dead Giveaway remained on loop in my head. “My neighbor’s got big testicles, we see this dude every day.”
The ground gave us gooey going despite our efforts to avoid it when we turned back onto a dirt road. A full day of rain had finally been too much for the desert to soak in. Puddles covered the road and mud sucked to our shoes. The Little Hatchet Mountains loomed ahead. Gray curtains of rain floated around us. One of these nailed our location as we finished our tea break, but my umbrella was up to the challenge. Road to sign posts, back to road.
A surprising amount of uphill swung our way as we turned to the hills. Crunch and I hung in the back while Spice jetted ahead with Rooster in tow. It was great to see her hiking strong and fast again, and reminded me that she really can leave me behind anytime she wants. Good thing she likes me.
It soon became clear that the road was not operating with the same agenda as us. Recognizing this helped me appreciate the uphill for what it was, the last climbing of the CDT. Enjoy it while you can, dude. The clouds broke enough for us to hazard a lunch break at the top of whatever we were on. Ate a bunch, read some smut, surprised Spice again with another Dr. Pepper. She’s on to me now.
Big ol’ views grabbed my attention on the descent from the Little Hatchets. Next up were the Big Hatchet Mountains, jumping out of the flat brushland to the south. We would be there soon enough. A quirk of the New Mexico bootheel, put Mexico directly east of us, all of a sudden close beyond comfort. Stupendous light played across a landscape too big for this world. How arrogant of us humans to think that we can walk across so expansive a place. We were doing it though.
Dead Giveaway had been doing a good job of drowning out all of my profound, end-of-trail thoughts(assuming they existed), but they broke through the comedic haze now. The CDT started to feel big again. I felt the weight of the whole trail now. Not just sections or days. The whole enchilada. Start to finish, 4+ months of hiking on top of months of planning and years of dreaming. Looking at the whole is dangerous and has overwhelmed me in the past. Much safer, healthier is to focus on the next section, the next few days. Four-day backpacking trips are a piece of cake. The CDT is just a yummy cake when eaten piece by piece. But here and now, a day before the end, I allowed myself to feel the whole in a way I hadn’t yet. I don’t think I had a choice. It was a lot. Not scary, now that the end was in sight, but still huge. No sense of triumph either. The CDT is too big for me to feel like I defeated it or won something. I’ve left so much of myself on the trail, and so much of the trail has become part of who I am. I have coexisted with the CDT and only made it this far because the environments of the trail have allowed me to. Without the CDT, I don’t hike from Canada to Mexico. I don’t even think about it. I needed it. I need it. We did it together.
Dead Giveaway rose again, returning me to the blissful boob I was a paragraph ago. I hiked hard to keep up with the others, down and out into the flatlands again, fast track to the Big Hatchets. Gosh, it was beautiful. We hit Hwy 81 around sunset, but the clouds made that hard to judge. We filled up at yet another water cache, then split to cover the remaining sign-hop before dark made it too arduous to be casual. The signs disappeared, but we just about made it. From there, another dirt road kept the walking smooth for as long as we could handle. After a few miles, my legs were lead and I needed to stop. The others obliged. We found enough flat spots just off the road to fit our three tents and set ‘em up. Arts and crafts kept Spice and me from dinner, but the results were worth it. Two crowns for the soon-to-be Triple Crowners, cut from our foam sleeping pads. Finally, couscous. The final couscous? Finally to sleep. The final sleep? Meh.