Monday, May 6, 2013

Hit the ground running!

Well kids, here's the first update I know you've all longed for! I'm currently in Silver City, approximately 145 trail miles from the border. For under 6 days of hiking, that's really good. And really brutal.

I'm hiking with two fellows, an Aussie named Clint (Sweet As) and a lad from Chattanooga, Kevin (Aquaman). Our adventure started at the train station, where we all met up, along with Dave (Trip) a kiwi who is currently just behind us. From there we Amtrak'd to Lordsburg NM, shoutout to the awesome train conductor that shooed us off the train! (we looked for you on Saturday, no luck) Then we met the incomparable Sam Hughes, a darling 84 year old man that allowed us to sleep in his yard before delivering us mostly intact to the border- we had a slight run in with a bush when Sam got a little off track. Sweet as, Aquaman and I got to the border just before 10 am for a quick photo session, then hit the trail. The terrain was easy, meandering desert, but the temps were rising, so we cruised onto the water cache we had placed earlier. After a short siesta under one of the few shade casting trees in the area, we pushed on through the heat of the day, though the trail disappeared and we spent a few hours playing "hide and go seek" with the trail cairns. We opted to go for a 26 mile day to be able to camp next to the second water cache, but it was dry when we arrived, so we ended up hiking another 3 miles in the fading light to a windmill with water. We were all losing our sense of humor at this point in the day, but once we were properly hydrated, life improved and we had some good laughs about the misadventure. It seemed an appropriate start to the journey.

The next few days passed uneventfully; big mile days, with long siestas and lots of ibuprofen. We've had foot pain, joint pain, scratches from run in's with the heroin bush (as we like to call it), a infected cactus needle wound, chafing in some "delicate" places, and just all around soreness. We have, however, made great time, having hiked good distance and managed to keep spirits up!

Last night we pulled into camp at dark, exhausted after a long 28 mile day, one of the first with significant elevation changes, and we tossed our gear to the ground and promptly fell asleep to starry skies. Around 2am I woke up to a drizzle on my cheek but in my half asleep state just hoped it would go away. It didn't. As the raindrops got bigger, panic and swearing ensued and we popped up tents. Well Sweet As and I did. Aquaman just wrapped himself in his tent and went back to sleep. We managed to fend off the rain and stick to our planned 5:30 wake up, and packed our soggy camp and hit the trail. We missed our turn, although we actually followed the trail signs, but apparently the signed trail was the wrong way? Anyhow we got on the right route and worked our way into Silver City, with a lovely 12 mile road walk that pounded our feet, ankles and knees. The heat held off though, so it was an easy enough stroll into town, where I happy rewarded myself to a medium nonfat latte! And in true hiker fashion, we had a motel room, showers and laundry done in no time. Our room assumed the all too familiar role of drying rack for wet tents, sleeping bags and ground cloths.

Our bodies are appreciating the rest, but tomorrow we will be off again into the wilderness. Next stop: the Gila river and cliff dwellings!

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