143 miles from Mexico
It’s cold- I sleep curled in a tiny ball in my sleeping bag and when I wake at dawn Spark announces that it’s thirty degrees. I slept amazing tho and by god, am I ready to hike. Which we do. We’re up high still, walking on real actual trail which is glorious through the cool dappled pine forest and then we reach eight thousand feet and we all feel spectacular-
“Today is so great,” says Spark.
“I feel like I’ve died and gone to hiker heaven,” I say.
Of course nothing can be good forever or in any way you can control and next comes a long hot roadwalk and that’s just the way it goes. Not that I would want it any other way.
Roadwalks are painful. If you’re a long-distance hiker you have probably experienced this- roadwalks are excruciating. The road is just too hard and flat and it WHACKs against the soles of your feet until everything is inflamed and the pain radiates up your legs all the way to the top of your head and you feel as though you’re gonna fall apart.
Today’s post-forest roadwalk into Silver City, New Mexico is five miles on hard dirt followed by twelve miles on the paved shoulder of the highway. FTW.
We take ibuprofen and we put in music to try and block out the world and we cruise. My feet ache but pop music helps, like it always does. In the distance I can watch the clouds gathering over some low mountains. New Mexico sure is beautiful. Track Meat has his book out and is bent over it as he walks, reading. Spark is a speck way ahead, trying to get to town for beer. I listen to my music and I don’t see anything after a while- not the cars, not the lonely ranches along the road. A thousand possible realities start in my brain and then stop, playing again and again in an endless loop. I find a part of the story that I like- eating some really good food, maybe, or seeing a friend I haven’t seen in a while, and an adventure this friend and I could have, and then rewind the tape over and over in my brain, altering small details each time. This is how I escape the trail during times like this. Brain TV.
We walk all twelve hot paved highway miles into Silver City. I know some people might’ve hitched this stretch, and I don’t blame them. Last year on the PCT I hitched the fire closures in SoCal and skipped a few other bits here and there, for a total of 80 missed trail miles by the end. There’s nothing wrong with skipping when you need to, as long as you’re honest about it, but afterwards I regretted those missed miles, as sometimes happens. The CDT is rife with alternates, and there is no “right” way to hike it, but my intention this year is to make a continuous footpath from Mexico to Canada, god dammit. And to take the scenic route whenever possible.
By the time we get to town our feet are beat to fuck and even though we’re hungry all we can do, once we get a room, is lay face-down on the beds as though we’ve died. Or fallen asleep. Which we eventually do.
Photos on instagram.