CDT Update: Day 7 & 8

Cactus blooms outside of Lordsburg, NM
Cactus blooms outside of Lordsburg, NM

We had a relaxing zero day (day off, zero miles hiked) in Lordsburg, NM.

Lordsburg is hiker central, at least in Southern New Mexico. Every day, five or ten fresh faced hikers arrive on the Greyhound or Amtrak and five or ten tired sunburned hikers walk in across the desert from the Mexican border.

And so, we returned to Lordsburg as tired hikers and checked back in to the Econolodge for a day off.

Deb immediately spotted a large carton of Epsom Salts in the hiker box and proceeded to soak her feet. It seems to have helped too. She is hiking pretty well now, although her feet do have an odd patchwork of tape all over them.

There is not much to the town of Lordsburg. A few motels, gas stations, and fast food places along the interstate highway. If you venture beyond the interstate you can find two Dollar stores and a small grocery store.

As you wander around town you often see other hikers and catch up on the latest hiker gossip — somebody hiked the 85 miles from the Mexican border in 2.5 days, how far is the hike really from Lordsburg to Silver City (various guides say it’s either 59 or 76 miles), and every store in Lordsburg is sold out of Moleskin blister pads.

On Wednesday we packed up and resumed hiking northward toward Silver City. The weather was cooler and the first 10 miles were relatively flat so we made pretty good time even with our taped up feet. The desert was filled with colorful cactus blooms. We passed the 100 mile mark in our journey and are camping at mile 102 tonight.

CDT Update Two: Lordsburg, NM

Deb hiking on the Continental Divide Trail.
Deb hiking the Continental Divide Trail.

We have now hiked the first 85 miles of the Continental Divide Trail from Crazy Cook to Lordsburg, NM. It’s been a great adventure so far with plenty of beautiful scenery. It reminds me a little of the Anza Borrego area in Southern CA. The terrain and vegetation is somewhat similar and the CDT is often a cross country route like many of the trips I made in Anza Borrego with my Sierra Club friends.

The CDT section in the New Mexico bootheel often crosses vast flat areas between small mountains. The land appears to be mostly BLM grazing land leased to ranchers. Almost no people live out here. Hikers share the water in the occasional troughs and solar windmills with the cattle. Except for three border patrol agents off in the distance, we saw no one except for a few other hikers the past six days.

The actual trail, much of the time, is not a trail at all. Often it is just posts every few hundred yards or few tenths of a mile marking a cross country route. Hikers can follow the posts or pick their own route as they see fit.

They may have the largest jack rabbits in the world here. You see lots of them, especially as you hike early in the mornings.

Early one morning we spooked a small herd of antelope that galloped off with amazing speed.

Odd things happen on the trail too. On our last day before reaching Lordsburg we were taking a break in the shade of a small bush. We had taken off our shoes and a bee landed on my sock clad foot. The bee walked around on my sock for about a minute and then fell dead on the ground. I’m not sure what that means.

The CDT has been hard on our feet. It must be the combination of heat, dirt, and rocks. Deb has many blisters and I have one. We plan on taking a day off from hiking tomorrow to give our feet time to recover.

It’s not just our feet either. The small hiker box here at the Econolodge has two pair of discarded shoes. After only 85 miles of hiking they are not worn out, but caused so much discomfort hikers decided to give them away. Another hiker was waiting in the motel lobby for the 3 pm UPS delivery of new shoes. Everyone’s advice here is to stop and shake out sand and small rocks sooner to keep abrasions low. And sweaty socks don’t help either.

Our CDT Adventure Begins

Deb hiking past an Ocotillo on the CDT.
Deb hiking past an Ocotillo on the CDT.

Our day began in Lordsburg where we caught the early morning shuttle run by the Continental Trail Alliance. The shuttle makes starting the Continental Divide Trail much easier since there is basically no other way to reach the southern terminus of the trail at Crazy Cook (in the boot heel of New Mexico) unless you happen to have a friend in the area with a high clearance vehicle. The last part of the road is pretty bad. Ten other hikers started with us, which is a large group for the CDT. We departed Lordsburg about 6:45 AM, arrived at Crazy Cook about 10 AM, and began hiking about 10:30 after some picture taking at the monument.
On the first day we hiked 14 miles of the CDT which was some cross country (marked by occasional signs), some abandoned roads, and some following dry washes. I’m glad to be wearing more supportive hiking shoes (instead of trail running shoes). Deb complained a little about the roughness of the trail, and walking on tennis ball size rocks in places or loose gravel does slow you down, but it was nothing compared to what we faced the next day.

PS – Our sincere thanks to our friend JJ for driving us to Lordsburg so we could begin this hike.