So 2 Canadians and a S. African walk into a hostel….

If my info is correct about 250 attempt to hike the CDT every year. Compare that to the over 2000 that take on the PCT and 3000 on the AT. Seeing, well anybody, on this trail is rare. In the last 5 days we have seen only one other hiker. Top that with the fact there is no signal (what up Verizon, just sayin). You are so on your own out here.

It really hit me on that 7 day stretch between towns (I’m using that term loosly). At one point we were 2 days walk from well, anything. Have you ever been that isolated?

I have to say I’m glad to have Kelsey to hike with. She’s a great hiker, done both the PCT (where we met) and the AT. She knows how to work the digital maps that I’m still figuring out. (I’ve always just used paper maps, old school).  We get on each others nerves at times, we are from vastly different worlds and all. But she has a good sense of humor. When things go bad out here (getting lost, running out of food/water, being wet for hours, freezing….) It helps big time to have someone to laugh through it with. Our common phrase is: this is gonna be funny later.

We made it to Pie Town, I think there maybe more Hikers here than towns people. But they are nice people, they have pie and a nice hostel called the Toaster House. Some of the Hikers even helped a neighbor with some yard work.


So the other hikers, right. There is Fun Size she’s from Alaska, Treeman showed up he went Trail Days(an annual thru hike CDT kickoff in Silver City) so we got ahead of him. He tells us there are a bunch of hikers about a week and half behind us. (Guess nobody is eager to face the San Juan snow) There is also Canadian brothers Ian and Liam hiking with Kate from S. Africa. So international…..The Trail Unites Us! Oh and Jordan who is road tripping his way to AT trail days. So the hostel is fullish.

We all decided to take a zero day (no trail miles) and just kick it at the hostel. The Canadians convinced us, hmm. The closest grocery store is 20 miles away. But yeah Jordan is taking us to get ‘supplies’. Looking forward to a rest day, cards (spoon tournament) and socializing.

Cold snap

Things have not been going all that well since this seven days stretch started. It was chilly waiting for Doc Campbell’s store to open, but we needed to get our packages. Glad we had them as it would have cost a small fortune to resupply there. I left there feeling I still had things to do, I did. Like my phone and pocket battery both were not fully charged, couldn’t make any calls (no signal only wifi), and no laundry, sink showered put back on dirty clothes.


So first off it’s been REALLY windy and cold. We took the High Route, as it had only one river crossing, but was crazy windy. Seriously the wind has been going full blast for like 3 days. Oh did I mention I dropped my phone, yup, landed right in a stream, great. It was kinda wonky for a bit, all the wind helped dry it I think. It’s mostly working except my GPS map won’t show my location, agh. [Update: changed a setting and GPS maps are working!]

Just when I thought I could deal with the wind came the cold. It was so cold on the 3rd day, I hiked ALL DAY in my puffy jacket, rain coat and all my clothes. (Btw, I forgot my wool cap, darn it) With no phone signal we really had no idea about the weather.  So as we’re walking along this jeep road, headed for the hills a guy in a truck pulls up.

Guy: you girls ok?
Us: yes
Me: how’s the weather? (pointing to dark clouds gathering in the distance)
Guy: oh, storm coming….snow in the high country, bye.
Us: well great

mmm, tasty water
You never really know what to expect out here. Last week I was melting in the desert, this week, snow. People have made fun that I carry cold weather gear the whole hike. But I was so glad to have my long pants, gloves, and multiple shirts….i wore them all to bed the other night! See we got to camp setup our tents….that’s when the thunder started, then the hail, then the snow. Turns out the low that night (at close to 9000 feet) was 30°!  New Mexico, prepping us for Colorado I suppose. We are about 50 miles from Pie Town our next resupply stop. Can’t wait….I need a weather break, and shower.

Trail lesson: things might be tough today, hang in there, a change is gonna come.

Embracing the Brutality- New Mexico

So we left Silver City (did you know Billy the Kid was jailed in Silver City? Geronimo ran in this area too!!) It’s like being in a Western out here! The pine trees smell so good, not like Pinesol or a Yankee candle pine….real pine.

The terrain keeps changing, rolling hills, deep canyons (I did not know that was coming). You can mountain bike these trails, we met a nice couple out for the day.
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There was a real steep climb Sunday, twice! What a day. There are many alternate routes on the CDT, it’s very choose your own adventure. We are hiking the Gila alternate route to a place called Doc Campbell’s. After the climb we came all the way down, slowly on loose rock. Finally ended up at the Gila river. Now I was a bit concerned about crossing this river. As reports had put the water depth at chest deep in some areas. FYI, I DO NOT, like river crossings. Just to keep things interesting we had to cross multiple times! The trail basically goes up the river so you cross back and forth sand bar to sand bar. Man, I had to break out my other trekking pole the current was strong. At one point both Kelsey and I are both just standing in waist deep water trying to figure out which way to go! Too funny.


Suffice it to say we didn’t get washed away. Finally found a camp, my shoes are soaked and full of sand. But wait we have cross that river AGAIN the next day! We were in the river from 7:30 am to 4:30 pm. I basically hiked a canoe trip. This is the Gila Alternate Route, only cairns, no CDT signs. We hiked up stream on the banks, when there was no bank we crossed to where there was.

I was wet, hot, and beat after only 14 miles. But boy was it fun! I’m better at crossing rivers, a little bit anyway. I kinda liked finding our own way. Then we camped at the hot springs…..that had Baby goats!! There was a real nice hippy couple camped there also. They extended an invitation to come over and drum with them….um, I passed.

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Heading out on a 7 day leg next, longest yet. Still haven’t decided which route to take -The High Route or Low One (probably high route I’m over the river right now).

Happy trails!!

Gila National Forest, Silver City

What a difference a day makes out of the desert into the Gila National Forest which has trees that provide shade!! There was also Trail Magic ( Trail Magic, is an unexpected act of kindness, and is a big part of the trail experience for many long-distance hikers).

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Heinken and Goldfish great fuel for the 5 miles climb we had ahead of us. We climbed up to 7000 feet, which led to a pretty chilly morning wake up. Stayed in my sleeping bag an extra half hour waiting for the sun to warm things up!

We’ve gotten lost like twice en route to Silver City. Only like 700 yards off trail, but it’s annoying to realize you must have missed a turn or something. Then have to find your way back, preferably without any back tracking.

Oh yeah, so while we were morning hiking I heard a noise. Then heard it again…like a bugle…..Elk! Even though I sped up the trail, never did see them. Have you ever heard a Elk bugle it’s pretty majestic. I was pretty excited, we haven’t seen much wildlife except rabbits, lizards and a bjillion cows.

Even though I slept in, I was on trail by 6:45, only 15 minutes later than usual. I finally got my morning pack up dialed in. It takes a bit to get into a routine that works. Everything goes in the tent every night in the same place. Everything goes in the backpack the same way every morning. Routine keeps me from losing it and by it I mean my stuff and mind. So far the only thing I’ve lost is my shades, doh!

So after a long downhill trek (btw did I mention I luv downhill!) then treading through 4 miles of sand (come on do people really like long walks on the beach, that was exhausting) then a 13 mile road walk on hwy  180 (this trail does not lack variety)…..we got to Silver City!

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Actually after about 7 miles of road walking and running out of water I hitch hiked into town. There was a water tank just before the hwy, but the dead cow next to it made it unappealing. We’re not staying in town. Just grabbing a shower ($7 shower at the local  gym, dried off with my bandana, put back on the same dirty clothes…..hiker trash), snacks (need more ramen) and then we’ll camp just out of town. Only 3 days to Doc Campbell’s……..then a 7 stretch to Pie Town that should be interesting!

Stay tuned and Happy Trails

And they’re off….

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Leaving the border, southern terminus.

It’s now Day 2…..and we are thoroughly scratched up from playing “find the trail.” First day went great, even though it was plenty hot. I was only carrying 1.5 liters of water so I beat to the first water cache about 13 miles then camped about 2 miles after that. Water is heavy, yo. So, I like my Nemo air mattress, not love; only because I’m  concerned about popping it. It miss my Zlite I could just throw down anywhere. Got a good nights rest even with Border Patrol barreling by at about 1am, shining a spot light on my tent.

Kelsey and I started day 2 realizing were off trail. (Kelsey and I met on the PCT, hiked part of the AT together, so it only seemed right we start this challenge off together! ) We had to go through A LOT of brush to get back on trail that morning. I brushed by a cactus, ouch, they were in my shirt and my arm. Think I’ll live. Made it to the second water cache, met Youngblood, he is a young guy hiking alone, and did the PCT last year. We discussed the lack of shade and trail finding difficulties. I got 3.5 liters to get me 20 miles to the next water. I cameled up (drank 1 liter), so I should be fine.

 

Crap…..another checkpoint

Road trip to Lordsburg, New Mexico went great! How could it not, there was licorice, In N Out, good company lots of chatting and laughing. I get a bit frazzled when I’m leaving, so its good to a friend who can deal with me. It’s only about 8 hrs from San Diego, we made good time even with the stop to get me a new hiking outfit. It’s a short dress, cute and functional, but I miss my skirt. People, trail gear does not have to be expensive…what up Walmart.


We tried to make it to the hotel in time to watch Survivor, but we missed it (darn you, Mountain Time). But I did get a CDT buff from Radar! Turns out Kelsey was on the room right next to ours!! Yea, so instead of tv we got ice cream and chatted with Kelsey before the early morning shuttle.

Oh there were a bunch of checkpoints on the 8 & 10 highways, FYI.

One week out…..

In one week I’ll head off to Lordsburg, New Mexico to start my CDT adventure. I’m not gonna lie I’m a bit anxious. I’ve got a bunch of little things to do….you know pack, unpack, repack….weigh pack for the bjillonth time. Seriously I can’t believe it’s just around the corner.

Last weekend I got to have a Bon Voyage Campout with a bunch of friends! It was great and chilly, we were up near Mt Laguna. But my friends know how to camp so we were all good. Most of us car camped, but there were some hard core tenters! There was smores, champagne, meats and cheeses, music….and hiking both day and night. Even a fire ranger stopped by to personally give us a permit and, of course, have some of our tasty grilled meats (on our not supposed to be there grill!). Thanks Pat for getting it all together!

like they hike
we going hiking!

I’m really gonna miss everyone. Everyone has been SO helpful and supportive. Now I better get back to packing, again.

 

Pep talk

With a month to go it’s time to kick the training up a notch. Actually just get more outdoor hours. Up to this point most of my training has been in the gym, with short hikes outside. I feel like I’m in pretty good shape now that I got my running back up to 4 miles. That’s 4 miles on the treadmill, I don’t run outdoors. I’ve tried, it’s not my thing.

So I got some extra weight in the ole backpack, blu and I are headed out for some 20 milers. (yes i just randomly named my backpack blu!) I have a really good training loop that has flat stretches, hills and I haven’t done the whole loop in awhile. San Diego has had quite the wet winter, which has kept me indoors. That and my favorite area tends to flood.

In other news I got my maps this weekend! They are huge 11×17 color maps. The bulk of it along with my other gear sent me into kind of a panic. Maps, resupply, gear….Oh my! The enormity of it all was a bit much for me yesterday. Reached out to some friends who reminded me…..it not about the WHOLE thing….it’s one step at a time.

So I took a break and spent the afternoon yesterday on the treadmill watching the Iowa State Cyclones win the Big 12 tournament title!!

“There is more story to write,” he said. “That’s what I told them in the locker room. Stay humble. Do the right thing, and let’s get ready for next week.” – Steve Prohm ISU coach

Great advice coach……thanks for the pep talk!  Go Cyclones!!! Go Me!!

Stronger than I am now

“The most difficult thing is the decision to act, the rest is merely tenacity.” ~ Amelia Earhart

With the tentative date of April 8th closing in fast I’ve started to kick my training up a notch. Let’s face it I’ve put on some weight over the holidays (mmm meats & cheeses) and I’ve used all the drought ending rain as an excuse for not getting outdoors. So, what does my training look like?

I hit the gym about five times a week, on the treadmill I alternate between walking at an incline and jogging. When I’m at the gym with the stair climber I torture myself with that (working my way up to 30 mins, for now at about 15 mins my motivation tank runs out). When I’m feeling saucy I grab some weights and fling them around. I’ve recently been trying out some Yoga (don’t laugh) it can help with improving flexibility and balance. The CDT will no doubt be the hardest thing I have ever done, so covering all the bases.

The best training is hitting the trail, I know, that is about all the information you’ll find online, too. Basically it’s my belief you can adequately train with long hikes and hilly terrain. So I’m making this up as I go. I’ve met a lot of people who use the get in shape on the trail plan. I’d rather put in the work now (even on that stair climber) and recover at home. When I do get outside, on weekends, I have a nice 20 mile loop to pace myself on backpack and all.  Thinking about hauling my backpack over to the gym!

What makes hiking the CDT so physically demanding? Well, Walking mile after mile 3000 miles give or take. That’s 18-25 miles per day elevation following the Continental Divide of the Americas. Oh and weather lots of weather snow, heat, rain, cold you name it. The CDT stretches from Canada to Mexico, and crosses Montana, New Mexico, Idaho, Colorado and Wyoming. Yea, Embrace the Brutality.

(side note: my wonky ankle is doing pretty good, been doing strengthening exercises. I can run for 30 mins and not be in pain afterwards…yea,me)