CDT day one: I feel/about/because

May 5
Mileage 25
25 miles from Mexico

There is a sleep deprived flight, Tuscon full of heat lightning, reunited with my nice dude-friends Spark, Track Meat and Mehap, all grown slightly older and wiser and I guess I have too. We walk delerious through sunday-night Tuscon, which is full of drunk hipsters, until we find pizza. There is a half-sleep in a narrow hostel bed in a too-warm room, waking up throughout the night thinking the cat is sitting on me, the cat is sitting on me, but of course there is no cat. Morning comes and we board the amtrak to Lordsburg- the Sunset Limited. The train ride takes twice as long as it should and I can’t nap and the conductor keeps coming on talking about this and that with too-long pauses between words and it’s like surrealist comedy. In Lordsburg I think I’ve lost my wallet- later I find it. We eat large quantities of cheap mexican food and settle into out hotel room. Topics of discussion: the proper way to blow up a whale carcass; whether one would or would not eat a steak made from raw sewage that’s been turned, in a lab, into fake meat; the F.A.B. method of discussing one’s feelings (I feel ____ about ____ because ____); where to find sombreros at this hour.

This sleep is better altho not by much. Continental breakfast is at six a.m.; I eat three hardboiled eggs with chipotle tabasco and two bowls of fruit loops in protein powder “milk”. (For the ppl who hate on thru-hikers who like to eat junk food- there’s a study floating around the internet that shows that athletes have faster recovery time with junk food than with bars and such. Give it a google.)

Juan from the CDTC ferries us down a long, rutted dirt road towards the Mexican border. (Thank you Juan!) The ride takes 3.5 hours. There are 3 other hikers in the rig besides us 4- William, Josh and Buck-thirty. After the obligitary monument photo shoot I set out cross-country into the Ocotillo desert, my heart pounding like a bag of hammers. Seriously, I think I’m going to faint from nerves. What if I can’t hike? What if this is all a dream? What if I don’t get to spend four more months in my special happy place and am forced instead to return to the land of traffic lights, concrete and computer work? Ha ha! You think you could escape!

I just have to get far enough into the nature, I think. Then it’ll feel like this is actually happening.

The saying for the CDT is “embrace the brutality”. Today is not brutal. Today is gentle cross-country walking through a breezy lush desert where the ocotillos are in bloom and the clouds are doing pretty things with the light. We reach the first cache and take a break, happily eating our shitty junk food and also other things, like dried kale soaked with instant curried lentils. Track Meat has macadamia nut butter he made from dumpstered macadamia nuts and MeHap has a smashed ziploc of dried tangerines. Spark is pouring a gallon bag of peanuts into his mouth.

12.5 miles later we roll out our bedrolls at the second water cache. I’m sore as fuck- from my shoulders to the tips of my big toes, everything twangy and yelling at me. Ibuprofen and magnesium powder and ruffles potato chips and GF cookies. The stars come out and I realize my anxiety is gone- I must’ve lost it back there, somewhere in the desert.

Photos on instragram