5/9 mile 177.7 Little Walnut Creek Alternate

I woke early at the hotel and planned the day’s hike. I was expecting to only do about 13 miles to the first water then stop since I’d be getting a late start about 9 AM. Several other hikers were doing the same (or so I thought)

But first I had a package to pick up at the Post Office. It contained socks (remember the nighttime desert caper?), Body Glide (I haven’t mentioned but chafing is an issue in your delicate areas), and a tent stake (it’s like losing a sock while doing your wash, just where do they go). I got to the PO at 8:15 and waited with another hiker, One Pole, until they opened at 8:30. Since I had been fortunate to have Radar give me a few things in Lordsburg I sent back home the duplicates: USB cord and a rag. So by 8:55 I was back to the hotel, checked out, and hiking out of town.

Out of Silver City I took my first Alternative, Little Walnut Creek. This was a 8 mile first asphalt, then dirt road walk. As with all road walks it sucked. Finally we were in the forest on regular trails. Well maybe not regular. They were hilly, rocky and steep. At one point I slipped and tore the crotch of my pants. Great, another thing to fix or have sent to me. Finally I got to Bear Creek, the water stop, but no one was there. The others had gotten their water and hiked on. So I decided to continue for a few more miles. Finally I was done and set up my cowboy campsite alone in the Gila National Forest.

As I sit here and type this I’m on the top of a hill looking out on some natural beauty.

5/8 mile 161.3 Road Walk

The CDT is an opened ended sort of trail. It is only 70% complete and over the years people have mapped alternatives. Your job as a thru-hiker is to hike the CDT and any of the alternatives you wish. It’s like “create your own adventure”

Yesterday night I camped on Jacks Peak with Turbo. We were at 8000 feet and the night was chilly. He mentioned that the trail leading into Silver City was only partially complete. He said he was going to leave the trail before it ended abruptly. This would require a 12 mile road walk into Silver City on NM-90 highway.

So I to decided to do this cut-off too. And it wasn’t even an official alternative. I woke early and was on my way at 5:45. Turbo and I hike separately. I had to climb over Burro Peak in pre-dawn light and find the start of a dirt road after 2 miles. That went fine. However as I descended this road I missed a crucial turn. I continued on over a mile maybe two until I reached a locked gate saying No Entry Blasting. Then I realized my mistake. So I hiked back up the dirt road and found where I goofed. Then it as over 5 miles on this dirt road to NM-90 and 12 miles on asphalt to Silver City. By the time I got there I was beat.

While I was doing this I realized that I’d get to Silver City on Sunday and the Post Office wasn’t open until Monday morning. That means I would just have to kill time by getting a hotel room at the Palace Hotel, meeting and eating dinner with other hikers, and taking a much needed shower.

P.S. Remember to never pick-up an accidentally dropped GU packet and put it in your pocket so you can throw it out when you get to town. Being the good person that you are. And then have it leak inside that pocket causing an awful sticky mess.

P.S. Hikers who I have met so far: ThunderBunny and Swamy, Turbo, Moxie, One-Pole, Deco, ? and Lola.

5/7 mile 120.0 A day of many climbs

Today I skipped breakfast and started hike at first light. In a few miles I filtered water from a picturesque windmill and ate my breakfast then. I seemed to hike even slower today. The trail reminded me of the PCT in that it was very well built and maintained. As I looked what was ahead I realized that I had a very big climb right at the end from about 6200 feet to 8000 feet in 4 miles. I did it, but I had to stop a lot on the way to catch my breathe.

5/6 Blisters

Thru-hiking takes its toll on you. Pushing to complete 20 or more miles a day affects your body. However if you are queasy about dealing with things like blisters please stop reading.

On the second day I was hiking through fields and fields of chunky rock. As I stepped awkwardly on piece after piece my feet and ankles were taking a beating as was my balance. At the end of the day I had a quarter-sized blister on the inside of my right heel. Every step I felt it. That day I didn’t do anything about it. The next day was more of the same. By now each step was painful. By the end of the day I had to do something. So I got a needle out and drained it. The next day started better, but as time went on it again filled up. The human body is great at resealing itself after a puncture. So I had heard about this and never tried it. I sewed a thread through the blister to keep it open. That worked. Each day I change the bandages and the pain is greatly reduced. Now I hope it will dry and callous over.

5/6 mile 99.0 Lucky and clean

I slept at water cache #1 about 7 miles outside of Lordsburg NM. The wind is incessant and although cooling during the day at night it kept waking me up. Finally at 4:45 AM which is predawn I got up and hiked out.

Town days are big things in hiker life. I had made a long list of all the things I needed to do in town. As I hiked towards town I was wondering if I could get a shower at the Econolodge. As luck would have it I met Radar when I arrived on Sunday. He is delivering water to all the caches. He is also Peru’s partner who I helped with some technical details of the CDT water report. So he knew about me. Well today he offered his room and his shower while he was out on his water run. In the shower I washed not only was myself but I also hand washed all my clothes and put them on wet (they are very quick drying polyester). In addition he had a spare USB cable and a lip-stick rechargeable battery. He next said that as part of signing up for the shuttle to the terminus I had not gotten my “goodies” which included a pair of CDT socks. Shower – Luck, cable – double luck, battery – triple luck, and even socks – quadruple luck. How lucky could I be! After that I left, walked across the street to a MacDonalds and had a quarter pounder and oodles of Coca-cola. Lordsburg you put a smile on my face.

5/5 mile 77.8 Lunch and a siesta

In the distance was a pyramid like hill. I pushed myself today to get “10 by 10”, in other words, 10 miles by 10 o’clock. And I made it! It was a hot day in the New Mexico desert and after 4 more miles it was noon and time for lunch. Very luckily I found a tree (they are very rare) and decided to just eat and then wait out the heat. A siesta! At 3:30 I started hiking again and fortune would have it that clouds appeared and blocked the intense sun intermittently. At the end of the day I was hiking around that pyramid hill.

5/4 mile 57.9 The dogs are barking

I woke early so I could get on the trail just before sunrise. In the dark I reached for my shoes with my socks stuffed in them. Huh. That’s strange my right shoe is empty. So I feel around and still nothing. I get out my light and they are gone. The left shoe along with its sock is there. It looks like I had a night time visitor who absconded with my right sock and gaiter. I was robbed! So I got out my extra right sock and was good to go.

I was on trail at 5:30 AM and was doing OK. I have a blister on the inside of my left heel. It’s a nuisance and after a while I just ignore it. Today I was planning to do 20 miles. My first water stop was in 9 miles. After the stop I would be carrying about 5.5L. Heavy! I was going along well with a slight breeze, but the day heated up and I slowed down. On one of my breaks I saw that the next water cache was only two additional miles. So as the day wore on I marched along and then as the heat went up I got slower and slower. By the end my feet were just screening in pain. That is, the dogs were barking. But I made it to the next cache.

5/3 mile 36.2 Hot day

I got to the second water cache after hiking about 10 miles. At the cache were ThunderBunny and Swamy. We chatted for a minute and they headed out. I guzzled down about 1.5L of lemonade flavored water and ate my lunch. The rest of the afternoon was a death march to get to mile 36.1 and 20 miles. At one point I was getting wobbly and set up my umbrella for shade and slowed way down. At the end I bumped into TBunny and Swamy under a tree so I sat with them trying to cool off. They are newlyweds and got married on April 23rd. She did the PCT last year. After our break I hiked another mile and will be cowboy camping tonight, that is, sleeping out under the stars.

5/2 mile 16.1 On my way

I was the only hiker starting today. We left Lordsburg at 6:30 AM and arrive at the southern terminus at 9:45. The last two hours of which was on a wash-board mud road. I’m glad I didn’t get sick, but I was so excited. After a picture or two, I headed out. It was quite cool, around the 40s F, but as the sunny day wore on it got hotter. I tried to make it to 20 miles, but at about 6 PM I called it quits at 16.1 miles. My right foot is sore and I hope tomorrow that it won’t be painful.

Scared out of my mind

In my hotel room I unloaded my pack and made sure I have everything. Then I filled up my two Platypus water bags with 5L and my two front bottles with 1.4L. That’s 14 pounds of water. My pack is so heavy and big that I’m freaking out. The first day is always the hardest, but I’m very worried especially about my right heel. All I can do is try…