After our hot slog into Lordsburg, we had a very pleasant and much-needed rest day before getting a lift to ‘Trail Days’ in Silver City – an annual event organised by the Continental Divide Trail Coalition. There were informative talks on topics like desert safety, bike packing the CDT and the national parks service, and some really enjoyable presentations. Our favourites were a talk by Mary Stuever about her 1981 hike of the CDT, long before the trail was established as a route, and an outstanding talk by Cam ‘Swami’ Honan, who we met on the Pacific Crest Trail in 2012. That was his 10th of 12 American hikes that he did in an 18 month period, totalling 14,000 miles. And he’s such a nice, unassuming guy too!
As well as an interesting schedule of talks, various brands had set up stands alongside public bodies and community groups. Neil was really pleased to meet Ron from Granite Gear, especially when Ron offered to replace his rather trail-worn Blaze rucksack with a brand new one!
So after three days of mostly sitting down, we were dying to get back on trail. We’d heard many warnings of how tough the first day out of Lordsburg was, so we were keen to get stuck in. After an early lift back to Lordsburg with the local Democratic candidate, we headed out of town with Kathleen, who’d started from Crazy Cook the same day as us. It was a blazing hot day heading north across the plains, with practically no shade, and with mountains which took forever to come any closer. But at last the trail began to rise gently above the plains, and after 15 hot miles we finally reached Engineer’s Windmill, where there was a cow trough full of greenish water. Not particularly appetising, but once filtered with our Sawyer Squeeze filter it tasted surprisingly good. After just 3 more miles, we finally overtook the four Australians we’d met at the cow trough and camped for the night, with a great view back down to Lordsburg sitting on the plain below.
If that day was hot and tough, the next was tougher yet! Thankfully a cooling breeze had sprung up as we made our way up Burro Peak – a long hard climb up to 8035 feet. It felt good to leave the desert vegetation behind and get up into tall pine trees with their lovely scent and good shade to rest in.
After a short sharp descent and diversion to collect water, we took a very pleasant shortcut down Deadman’s Canyon, thus saving ourselves an extra 3 waterless miles. By the time we came close to rejoining the main trail, we were just about done in after 22 miles hiking and lots of ascent, so just laid out our mats and sleeping bags and cowboy camped at the side of the trail. As we settled down to sleep a strange noise came out of the woods on the opposite side of the creek – as I remarked to Neil, it sounded just like Maya from the BBC TV programme “Big Cats in the House” – the story of a hand-reared baby panther. As mountain lions (a collective term for cougars and panthers) are found in New Mexico, this was actually fairly likely to be what it was. Much as we like the idea of mountain lions being out there, we both fell asleep planning what we would do if a panther came visiting!
However we all had a peaceful night, and in the chilly hour before dawn packed up and set off on a long long road walk into Silver City.
Time to do our laundry, send a food parcel, post some gear forward to ourselves further up the trail, and drink lots of lovely cold drinks!
We’re both feeling a bit achey after yesterday’s ascent and today’s roadwalk, and my blisters are still a bit annoying, but all in all we’re happy with our mileage, ahead of schedule and have 135 miles of trail under our belts!
Trail through the pines