Today’s trek from Lordsburg to Engineer’s Windmill started and ended well, but was not fun in the middle. Here’s the story.
The first 3.3 miles (5.3 km) were great, as they were a road walk out of town. I chatted with Ed and was upbeat, as I was leaving early when it was still cool out. I had about 1.4 gallons (4.7 liters) of water on me, so I felt pretty confident in my water situation.
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But the minute the road walk ended, I was back in that dreaded situation where you’re hiking blaze to blaze, with no path. (I’m guessing this is because I was on private ranching land.)
And as happened before, I generally couldn’t see the next blaze until I was almost upon it, meaning I had to keep opening up my app. That’s a problem in this weather, as it slows you down – which means you’re out in the heat longer, needing more water.
The last bummer: I had to plow through lots of strong, prickly vegetation that was, at times, up to my waist. I also had to pass through those pretty, golden grasses that actually have prickers that stick all over your shoes, socks and gaiters. I really wished I had kept my hiking pants and not shipped them ahead in my bounce box! I’ll never make that mistake again.
Making My Way to Engineer’s Windmill
Because of the lack of a trail, I was off-course for much of the day. Every time I checked my app, I always seemed to be parallel to it, although thankfully not far away. I didn’t see any blazes for about four hours.
With my pace slowed from the above, I began rationing the water I carried. The first reliable water source, according to the app, was about 15 miles in (24.1 km), or at the end of the day. My hunger tanked once again. All I could think about was water.
Around 4 or 5 p.m., I finally found a blaze, right at the point where the trail stopped traversing a gently inclined desert plain and began to wind up into the mountains. Here was a lovely, wide, dirt road through cattle country.
Not too long after heading up this path, I found a cattle tank that, according to the spring hikers, was dry. It was full today – yay! – and reasonably nice. But a lot of cattle were drinking when I approached, and weren’t too happy to back away from the water for me. So I just filled one bottle and resumed my hike.
Less than a mile later was Engineer’s Windmill, also a cattle water tank. This was full to the brim with pretty nice water, so I filled up all of my other bottles and decided to camp in the area. This way I could drink as much as I wanted tonight, plus fill up before tomorrow.
I pitched my tent on a sandy wash, off the main road used by the ranchers. I’m LOVING having as much water as I want; I’m still drinking now as I write this. And I’ll definitely guzzle a ton tomorrow morning before heading out. (Being aware, of course, of the dangers of hyponatremia.)
Just as with all of my hikes so far on the CDT, I’m once again behind my schedule. That’s a little problematic, as my last day into Silver City is more than 21 miles (33.8 km), and I don’t want to add to that! But I’m not sweating it.
First, the 21-mile day consists of 13 miles (20.9 km) of road-walking, where I’ll make good time. And second, if I have to Uber part way into town, it’s not a big deal. I have a zero day scheduled for the following day, and could make up those miles instead, slackpacking all the way.
I don’t think it will rain tonight. Yay!
Today’s Miles: 15 (24.1 km)
CDT Miles to Date: 79.8 (128.4 km)
CDT Miles to Go: 3,020.2 (4,860.5 km)
Most useful item today: My Sawyer Squeeze water filter. The cattle water tanks smelled poopy, but the water tasted great!
Also, if you haven’t heard this tip, Smart Water bottles fit the Sawyer Squeeze. So always carry your water in those. They fill quickly, unlike the Sawyer Squeeze pouches, and you can filter water right from the bottle. I always carry the 33.8 fluid ounce bottles (1 liter).