Well, I’m finally here. I’ve made it back to Deming after completing the first 56 mile section of the CDT. Its been an amazing experience already and am happy that I’m out on the trail doing it. I’m no longer dreaming, I’m doing.
My arrival into Deming was good because I had my family with me to wish me well for the trail and it was great to have everyone here. At 8 am, Saturday April 20th, I was picked up by local trail angel Keith to take me down to the border. He’s been helping hikers like me for many years and is great resource not just to get to the trail but for rides around town and to stash water for you as well. On our way down, he showed me important intersections and introduced me to some of the people who I could take water from when I got there. I encountered a great collection of local people with big smiles, great stories and colorful personalities.
After a 30 min drive we finally arrived on the border. It’s not what you would expect from all that you hear on the news about it. It’s pretty much a couple of buildings, a big long fence and streams of cars coming and going. Keith talked to the border patrol to let us walk up to the international line to get some of the traditional pictures of me standing next to it and the plaque that all hikers want to get their picture next to. I wanted to take more pictures, but I was told that they will confiscate your camera if they think you are taking pictures of the government buildings and I certainly didn’t want that to happen to my new camera. After some more pictures, I said goodbye to Keith and started walking. I have to admit, as soon as I started walking I started to cry. I was overcome with joy that I had set a goal for myself to hike the CDT and here I was actually doing it. It was a powerful feeling to be doing something that I had sacrificed so much to be able to do. It’s an amazing feeling that I hope everyone might get to experience in their life, and I know that I will never forget it for as long as I live.
The first 56 miles is walking mostly on 4×4 roads back to Deming. First was the town of Columbus, which looks like an old abandoned mining town that has no reason to be there. Oddly, there are a bunch of people driving around in really nice trucks but houses are ugly, so it makes you wonder what kind of business they are in…. just sayin’. I passed by a older lady in Columbus who was watering a couple of trees and she waved over to me and said ” I hope your having a great day” and I stopped and waved back at her and said “Yes, I’m having a great day”. She looked so happy and I was happy for her. About 1 mile outside of Columbus I walked up to a border patrol car that was out looking for a pair of illegals who had walked around the border fence. According to the border patrolman there aren’t that many illegals crossing in this area because the land is very harsh south of here; you mostly get illegal drug activity. I told them I hadn’t seen anyone. Honestly, had I run into them I would have probably just helped them any way I could, and wished them well on their journey. Being an immigrant myself, I can’t talk bad about someone else trying to make a better life for themselves in a new country.
On my first day I walked about 15 miles total, following a fence and then a 4×4 road to my first water cache that was not easy to find. Since I decided to not use GPS on this trip, I didn’t have a waypoint to plug in, only a dot I had made with my pencil indicating the general area of the water cache. I was happy to find it 30 mins before sundown where I made camp to get out of the 40 mph winds that had been hitting me all day. The sun, wind and sand takes a toll on your body that you don’t realize until you’re out here.
Day 2 brought a gorgeous sunrise that made me feel ready to tackle my first full day on the CDT. I packed up quickly eating my typical 2 Clif Bars for breakfast, as I walked the 3 miles to Willie’s house where I could get water. Willie was an old Vietnam Vet who has been helping hikers for many years, giving them as much water as they need. After chatting with him for a few minutes and taking just over a gallon of water I started the 10 mile cross country walk to the back side of the Florida Mountains. I was certain I would see plenty of rattle snakes during this section, but I didn’t see any, which was fine with me because I hate snakes. I’ll be happy if I don’t run into any this entire trip.
My only water source out here is the water provided by the wind mills that are for the cows. So most of the water sources I found either smelled of cow poo or were swarming with bees. I know that I have to drink out of these disgusting troughs but I can be a little picky when I know there are more options ahead. To treat this water I have both Aqua Mira and a Sawyer filter system and this is the only way I’m drinking any of this water. I finally found some good water towards the end of my day and decided to stay the night there because my right knee had started hurting pretty badly. My knees had never hurt before on hikes so I didn’t want to push it and hurt myself early on this trip. I setup camp and watched the sun set over the vast horizon with its stream of reds, oranges and pink. For a place that has very little, it shows off a lot.
On my third day I was happy to be heading towards Deming and getting out of the wind. I had only about 18 miles to go to get to town and 3/4th of that was road walking which doesn’t take much time. I walked through the Florida gap to another trail angel that let me take water from their hose which was much better than the water I had gotten from the tank the day before. After tanking up there and taking about 2 liters with me I made the final road walk back to Deming. I’ve decided to take a zero day (no hiking) at the American Inn Motel which is only $39 a night to let my very sore knee rest. I have had to make changes to my plan after hearing that the resupply in Mimbres is no longer there, forcing me to do a 8 day carry to Doc Campbells versus the 3 days I had planned for. I’ll head to the local Walmart and get some food for this next long carry.
All things considered, I feel great and am excited to finally be out here walking the CDT. I’m already enjoying my time on the trail and am looking forward to putting in even more miles. I have to stay focused on staying hydrated and injury-free so I can make it to the end. Now I’m off to get some good local Mexican food, because it can’t get any more authentic than this! 🙂