The first day of the CDT! We (Nugio, iPod, and myself) got picked up at the KOA in Lordsburg, NM at 7am. Despite being incredibly tired from the Pacific Crest Trail Kick-Off, my spirits were high and my energy levels were topping out. I couldn’t help but beam with excitement as we walked towards our CDTC shuttle, a dusty Volvo. Pounce, a fellow hiker, took our picture as we piled into the little car on our way to Hachita, NM.
The road into Hachita, where we would switch to a sturdier car, was as straight as could be. Only one long meandering left “turn” stood between us and our exit. We each paid the CDTC 70 dollars to drive us out to the Crazy Cook border, as well as cache water for the first 85 miles. It was a beautiful and welcome deal!
When we got into Hachita we switched to an incredibly dirty old blue truck. We piled our backpacks into the trunk and climbed into the cabin. I immediately noticed the heaping mound of fresh dirt that had accumulated on the floor board. As Nug eagerly jumped into the front seat he slapped the dingy old cloth and the inside of our vehicle was instantly engulfed in a thick cloud of golden dirt. I coughed as we waited for the engine to turn over.
Our driver was great! He gave us a local history lesson as we drove closer to our destination – Crazy Cook.
He taught us about the local copper mines and the saw mill industry that used to be in the area. I was shocked that this place used to be covered in trees. Looking out onto the barren landscape, I knew shortly I would be longing for the welcome shade of the once plentiful green leafed foliage.
We drove on dirt roads for almost 2 hours. It was brutal on the vehicle. Everywhere we looked we saw car parts. Everything from oil pans to fenders littered the graveyard like path. The closer we got to the border the worse the road became. I bounced up and down hitting my head on the roof several times. With each bump and notch we overcame more dirt happily danced into the cabin. I wasn’t sure if the air was getting thicker or I was just ingesting a massive amount of dust particles. Boogers immediately filed my nose making it impossible to breath in through my nostrils. Every time I opened my mouth the dirt infused air made its way into my body and settled on my teeth creating a nice gritty layer now calling my teeth home.
The wind was blowing vigorously and only increased the closer we got. Soon our visibility was only a few hundred feet in front of us.
After hours of jostling around inside our shuttle we made it to the Southern Terminus- Crazy Cook. For the last 20 or so miles we had been following tire tracks from an illegal immigrant. As we approached the flimsy barbed wire gate that separated New Mexico and Mexico the tracks disappeared onto the other side for what looked like a successful illegal crossing.
As we got out of the truck we opened the latch to discover our packs looked like they’d been rolling around in the dirt. Once bright and clean, they like us, now had a brown sheen to them… so much for that shower I had just taken.
Our driver dropped us off and took a few pictures of us before departing back to Hachita.
While we were soaking it all in the three of us were greeted by 4 border patrol agents. 1 in a truck and 3 on quads. They said they had been following the tracks as well. I tried getting a picture with them, but they objected. After a final picture, Nugio, iPod, and I took our first steps on the Continental Divide Trail at 10:40am April 30th, 2014.
The three of us at Crazy Cook
Our route on the monument.
The walking was easy, flat, and along washes for roughly the first 14 miles. Within the first mile I stepped on an Ocotillo and the thorns pierced through the bottom of my shoe sticking my foot. Despite the pain, I was still thrilled to finally be starting the journey North to Canada.
Ocotillo aka prickly sons a bi….cats.
We made it to the first water cache and ate dinner (cold instant mashed potatoes). We then hiked another ~2 miles before laying out our sleeping bags and falling asleep under the vast blanket of stars…. it feels great to be home.
For the wonderful Michael McWilliams!
Sunset aka where we plopped down to get some shut eye.