This post was written in my sleeping bag at the end of a long day. Please excuse any errors.
We’re out of the hotel by 8am, which has to be a record for us. Shake’nBake repeatedly tries to “snooze” me in the morning, but I’ve been awake since 5am and I’m ready to hike! We road walk out of town and then cut cross country. There are signs warning us to stay within ten feet of the trail. It’s funny because there’s no real trail and the only way I think I could stick that close to the trail in this section is if I check my GPS every five seconds.
We make a few detours, including scrambling up a sheer dirt cliff taller than me. I’m starting to feel woozy and lethargic so I call for a siesta. By the time we head out, my thighs are bright red. Did I forget to put on sunscreen? Big mistake! We climb up into the hills and away from the shadeless desert. There are trees and a snake greeting us! And mile 100, which has come much easier than a hundred miles on the PCT. But I’m in agony, my legs burning with every step. We stop for dinner and I pull my pants to my ankles to stop the pain. Only on the CDT could I sit half naked on the side of the trail and not have someone come around the corner. After dinner, the pain is less. We stop at a solar well for our first tricky water source, then climb high on a ridge to camp under the stars. In the morning, we take a few wrong turns, before we start to see signs for trail magic. They go on for miles and make me progressively more grumpy as the day heats up. Surely the magic is a lie? You don’t get trail magic on the CDT! And then Genie bounces around the corner. She tells us she has fruit and beer a few more miles down the trail. Then she tells us about a bike race in Silver City and offers her house to us in case we can’t find a hotel room. We continue down the trail, stopping at her trail magic. The trail climbs a few thousand feet, but I’m slowed by a drip of water on my legs. My platypus! My new backpack is mostly waterproof and there’s a half liter of water sloshing around in the bottom. I pull everything out, dump the water, then continue up the mountain. We climb quickly, and soon we are under huge pine trees. Trees! I missed them so much! I stop to hug a few as we contour up the Ridgeline. And then we plunge back down, as fast as we climbed. At the bottom, a junction. Here, the CDT splits. Our maps tell us to go one way, my GPS another. Both ways involve road walking, but one way shaves off an entire day. I want Shake’nBake to see some of the Gilla river with me, so I choose the shorter option. We head down Dead man’s Canyon, looking for the seep. Just when we’ve given up hope of finding it, it appears. We find a camp spot under the watchful eyes of a cow. In the morning, we have a dirt road walk until the highway, where we see signs warning of a bike race. Did we choose the wrong route? A cop stands at the race turn around and I’m worried he’ll turn us back but he just tells us to stay on the shoulder. And then our first racer is heading towards us. We hoot and holler and cheer. There’s a lot of racers to cheer and the first few miles of our 13 mile road walk go quickly. Then we hit the finish line. It’s still five miles to town and without the distraction of the race, my feet start to hurt. We limp into town. In our hotel room I discover a new blister the size of a quarter