Desert Initiation: Southern New Mexico on the CDT

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My bus got me into Lordsburg, New Mexico at 2 a.m. I was on the Continental Divide Trail the next morning - so, not quite as rested as I’d hoped to be on my first day out. Lordsburg is located right along the trail, so finding the head was fairly easy. Met some friends early on - many rabbits darting here and there, a horned toad and a chameleon. Oftentimes the ‘trail’ was not discernible. You just scan the horizon for the next sign, and hope to find it.

First morning, at dawn, I was awoken by the sounds of coyotes howling from all corners of the world. It sounded like the rising war cry of a tribe of Plains Indians - which, coming out of a dream as I was, I actually thought was true for a few frenzied seconds there…

Some of the cow gates were difficult - V-shaped and narrow; wide enough for your body alone, maybe, but not enough to allow a full pack through without being poked by barbs. Everything strapped to the outside of my pack - sleeping bag, bed roll and tent bag - got holes thanks to these gates. As did my puffy jacket.

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The wind started whipping shortly after that rousing coyote call. It didn’t let up for the remainder of my trek south. My Big Agnes tent got her great test that night, contesting the wind, as I made camp in an arroyo where the tough scrub and low trees cut it a little. I awoke virtually every hour all night. But as it was getting dark at 6 p.m. and not lightening until at least twelve hours later, this still added up to a good night’s sleep in the end.

The following day, rain and occasional hail abetted the driving wind. After all my concerns about finding and purifying water out here in the desert, to end up contesting with this instead..! In my frantic haste I got lost a couple times, once ending up on the wrong side of a cattle fence. The extreme weather forced me to cut my trek short a day and reach lodging.

My next stop was to be Silver City, but water scarcity forced or at least convinced me to turn around before I was halfway there…

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