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Silver City to Doc Campbell’s Post – CDT Thru Hike 2018

 

Silver City to Doc Campbell’s Post Overview

No more open desert, and more water in this section. At least towards the end of this leg. The beautiful Gila River awaits, and cell phone service is a thing of the past for us AT&T customers… it will be another 300 miles before reliable service!

Monday April 30th – CDT Day 10

I had some errands to run this morning, including a trip to the post office to mail my bounce box to the town of Grants. I should be there roughly 2 weeks from now. I got a much later start than I intended.

Since I hitched in to Silver City on Saturday so that I could have most of the day at the Trail Days festival, I now had to get back to the point on hwy 90 where I got my hitch. Other hikers hitched into town and never went back to complete the 12.6 Mile Road walk section on highway 90, or highway 180 if they took that route, but I don’t intend to cheat! Fortunately, the very hiker friendly camp host at the Silver City RV park offered to give me a ride.

I got dropped off on hwy 90 about a mile north of Tyrone Rd just before noon. It should be roughly 11 miles to Silver City from here. Yay, road walk time.

The road walk is just as boring as it sounds. However, there was some entertainment along the way. I passed a long driveway beating to a home along Highway 90 that was lined with toilets. One can’t help but laugh at this. His neighbors must love him!

When I got into Silver City, I walked past a store that sold mattresses and guitars. Yep, you heard right. I love weird business models like this. Not sure how successful it is but it sure is good for a laugh. 

As I was walking down hwy 90, someone shouted “Famous! Famous!!”. It was hodgepodge and Swiss monkey on the other side of the street. Hodgepodge is the one who gave me my trail name back in Lordsburg. They just got into town themselves, and were running around doing errands. We chatted for a few minutes, and then we went our separate ways.

It was around 3pm by the time I made it to Dairy Queen, my lunch destination. So I made pretty good time getting into town. Just over 10 miles. 

After lunch, more Road walking. I followed little walnut rd north out of town for several miles. I passed a guy on the sidewalk who had a ranch up the road. He recognized I’m hiking the CDT and we talked for a few minutes about the trail. As I walked up the road, many cars seem to recognize me as a CDT hiker and waved. 

Several more miles of road walking before I entered the Gila national forest. Still many more miles before the best of the Gila, but no more paved Road walking and a notable milestone nonetheless. 

After walking on the trails for a while, two Mountain bikers came flying around the corner and scared the shit out of me. I quickly jumped off trail to avoid being hit.

Now back on the official CDT route, the Trail reaches little Walnut road trailhead. From here, you can choose to take the official CDT route through the Black mountains or veer west on the dirt road and take the Gila river alternate route. Almost everyone takes the river route. That’s what I’m doing as well.  It really should just be the official route. 

A car approached on the dirt road and stopped alongside me. The passengers were wondering why I had so much camera gear hanging off my pack and just generally interested in what I was doing out here. I told them I’m hiking the CDT and explained that it’s a route from Mexico to Canada. This spawned numerous questions which I was happy to answer. I enjoy telling people about the trail and hearing their reactions. It’s especially entertaining when they’ve never heard of the trail. Most people think I’m crazy! But, in a good way.

The route then follows a smaller dirt road up hill. It was around 7pm now, so I was looking for a place to set up camp. After another half hour I found a good spot and called it a day.

As the sunset, several coyotes could be heard in the distance, growing ever closer. I laid my head down to sleep just before 10pm, ready for another 140 days of hiking on the CDT! It’s hard work but the adventure ails most pains. Life is good. 

Miles – 22.7
Total Miles – 169.6  
Rain – no
Sleep – Backcountry tent 
Animals – none seen

Tuesday May 1st – CDT Day 11

The Coyotes were howling all night, and even as the Sun rose. Now on day 11, this is officially my longest backpacking trip for both time and distance. 

Not far up the trail, I passed a few people cowboy camping. More dirt road to follow, but the views are getting better. 

When I reached bear Creek, I found a plenty of water about 100 ft upstream. A Brit named Henry was camping nearby, and we both pulled some water from the stream. He had been camping with Cracker last night, who had already hit the trail. I hung out at the stream for a while cameling up. 

Even though it was a dirt road, I enjoyed the next section. Sometimes the dirt road is old and now it is a trail only. That’s what I assumed this was. Old mining equipment littered the side of the road. There were a few small stream crossings well. It was surprising to see a truck coming down the road after one of the crossings. It was a US forest service truck. The two guys in the truck asked where I was headed. “Canada”, I said. This spawned the usual questions. I am starting to enjoy seeing people’s reactions. 

Eventually I left the road and headed up Hill along a canyon. Now the trail is along a ridge top with great views. Lots of rolling Hills and mountains, Green trees and eventually red Rocks and hoodoos. Very cool. 

I stopped for lunch at the “Regis-tree”… A tree converted into a CDT register. Clever. I later found out a guy who goes by the name “the hermit” lives about 30 yards away from the tree, but I never saw him or anything resembling a place to live in the area. I’m sure he was watching me, lucking in the bushes or something.

Nice hiking for a little while after lunch. Red rocks and then a forested canyon. Now on the sycamore canyon trail, it gains some elevation, quite steeply at times. Probably the hardest climb yet.

The climbing went on for a while. Thick vegetation along the trail too, including manzanitas. I have some scars on my legs from previous encounters with manzanitas, which brought back those not so fond memories. 

When I made it to tadpole ridge, I was surprised that it was actually a canyon. It was all downhill and easy walking. Where it ends at sheep corral canyon, there was a water tank with a few hikers resting beside it. They started April 27th, and were doing 35 mile days. Beasts! Have fun with that. 

I took a lengthy break at the water tank, which had good water from a spigot. Afterwards I continued down sheep corral canyon. Easy waking downhill. After a few miles, I saw a sign for the Gila River, 4.25 miles. That should make a good camp for tonight. 

The next section of trail follows a dirt road on a ridge top. When it starts heading downhill towards the river, I wad presented with the best views yet. Huge canyons and red rocks. 

The trail down to the river took forever. My knees hurt from going downhill and the rocks on the trail made slipping a common occurrence. Because of a the switchbacks, it was about 6 miles, not the 4.25 as the sign said. Liar! 

The trail goes down to Sapillo creek first before hitting the Gila. After crossing the creek it was only a 1/4 mile to the confluence with the Gila. Here I ran into Cruise again, who I had seen earlier at the last water tank. He was looking for a campsite too. There was a good site along Sapillo, but not many right at the confluence. I was also expecting there to be more hikers here, but it was just Cruise. He took the food campsite along Sapillo, which had room for multiple tents. I opted for a small spot under a tree right at the confluence. 

This spot is impressive. Huge canyon walls surrounding me on all sides, and the most water I’ve seen on the CDT so far. This is where all of the river crossings start. Basically, my feet will be wet all day tomorrow as I will have about 50 crossings or more. Definitely a good place to stop for the night. 

Today seemed long and tough. Tomorrow is going to be interesting. The only other time I’ve done anywhere near as many River crossings was also in the Gila back in 2012, on the west side in the Mogollan mountains. However, that was a tiny stream in comparion. 

Miles – 21.7
Total Miles – 191.3 
Rain – no
Sleep – Backcountry tent 
Animals – none seen

 

Wednesday May 2nd – CDT Day 12

It was nice sleeping next to the sound of the river last night. I saw Cruise make his first river crossing as I woke up and looked out my tent around  6:30am. 

The skies looked dark and stormy, and it was noticeabley cooler than previous days. I don’t have a rain jacket, rain cover for my backpack or a compactor bag for the inside of my backpack yet, as these items are in the resupply box I have waiting for me at Doc Campbell’s. I only have one garbage bag to protect my belongings from the rain. I put my sleeping bag, toilet paper and extra electronics stuff inside as I packed up. 

My campsite was only about 15ft from the Gila River,  and I needed to cross it immediately after setting off this morning. If crossing a river only once or twice throughout the day, it might make sense to take off your shoes. However, today’s hike will cross the river about 50 times, so the shoes stay on. 

Aftet the first crossing, I hardly cared about wet feet. The amazing scenery certainly helped. The river flows through a fairly steep sided canyon with red rocks. Really cool! I bet few people hike this outside of CDT hikers. 

Progress was slow at first, with numerous crossings and lots of loose sand. The wind was gusting over 40mph and the occasional rain drops could be felt. After about 2 miles, I passed the only other hikers I’d see along the river all day. 

When I stopped for lunch, I realized how cold it was as soon as I stopped moving. Lots of sand and pebbles were accumulating in my shoes from the river Crossings, so I had to empty my shoes to prevent blisters. I only stopped long enough to clean out my shoes, filter water and eat. 

Many more river crossings. Deepest was mid thigh, and the water levels are really low right now. None of the crossings were dangerous though. Some really beautiful bends and pools. I can’t stress how cool this was! 

By early afternoon the weather stated to clear. This made the hike that much more enjoyable. The middle section had less river crossings and more actual trail waking. This helped me get the miles I needed faster. 

By mid afternoon the train clouds were back. It rained for about 20 minutes but not terribly hard. Good, otherwise much of my gear and myself would be soaked. 

I saw a sign for a trail leading up to hwy 15 (1 mile) that wasn’t on my map. Otherwise it’d be Another 3+ miles to the Gila River bridge on hwy 15. This was a good climb, but a straight shot to the road. Awesome view of the Gila River in the canyon below. 

Now on hwy 15, there were some good photos ops alongside the road. Another 3 miles or so to Doc Campbell’s. I arrived around 5pm, and set up on a bench outside next to cracker, sequoia and camel. Familiar faces! 

Doc Campbell’s is awesome. They go out of their way to accommodate CDT hikers by staying open much later than their posted hours, stocking foods hikers want, accepting mail stop packages etc. Pretty much any CDT hiker passing through stops here and there’s almost always a few hanging out on the patio outside. It’s a great place to hang out and socialize. 

There are 2 main options for camping nearby; The RV park on the opposite side of hwy 15 and the Gila hot springs campground off Access Rd. I chose the latter. The campground is right on the river, and the hot springs are here too. No showers, but everything else you could want out of a campground. 

First thing I did after setting up my tent was jump in the hot springs for a soak. It felt amazing after the cold and windy day in the Gila River. Beautiful scenery and so relaxing. 

I ate dinner with the other CDT hikers next to a campfire, my first along the trail. Afterwards most of us had another soak to warm up before bed. I laid in my tent looking up at the stars, reflecting on the day. I feel so lucky to be out here. So many adventures still to be had. 

Miles – 20.9
Total Miles – 212.2  
Rain – yes
Sleep – tent, developed campground 
Animals – none seen

Thursday May 3rd – CDT Day 13 (Zero Day)

Today is another zero day. I have one planned for every resupply point in New Mexico, except Lordsburg. It was the first day I woke up to sun hitting my tent. On a hiking day, is already be packed up and gone by then. Last night was the coldest yet, below freezing. I got up in the middle of the night to take my water filter in my tent with me so it didn’t freeze. 

I jumped into a hot spring immediately after getting up. There is no better way to beat the cold! Most other hikers had the same idea. Most hikers also left this morning, few were taking a zero. 

After warning up it was time to head back to Doc Campbell’s to pick up my resupply box, get breakfast and bullshit with everyone else. Walking out of the campground, the road passes through a ranch. There was a rope across the road, clearly blocking it temporarily for some reason. I waited a minute but nothing was happening, so I ducked under it to keep going. As soon as I did that, a stampede of horses came flying down a side road. I quickly jumped back on the other side until the rancher was done moving them from the stable to the corral. 

Up at Doc’s, several hikers were hanging out on the patio. I spent several hours up here charging batteries, eating, going through my resupply box, eating, bullshiting and more eating. It’s more scenic than I was expecting, and just a cool place to hang out if you have good company.

One interesting thing about Doc Campbell’s is the fact that their toilets are plumbed with hot water. You’d think the seat is heated but the hot water warms the bowl. This is only the second toilet I’ve encountered in my life with hot water, worth noting for the comedic value. Lots of jokes about this. 

More hot springs soaking and good conversations back at the Gila hot springs campground. This place is awesome. At $8 for an overnight stay, this is going to be hard to beat in terms of bang for your buck. I highly recommend visiting whether you’re a hiker or not. If your schedule allows, you’d be crazy not to take a zero here! 

I bought some brats from Doc Campbell’s earlier which we cooked over a fire for dinner. Last hot meal for a while, with a 130 mile hike to Pie Town next. I asked if they had any skewers for sale for cooking the brats, and they suggested I buy a fly swatter and remove the swatter part. Genius! McGuyver would have been proud.

Miles – 0
Total Miles –  212.2
Rain – no
Sleep – tent, developed campground 
Animals – none seen

 
 

Lordsburg to Silver City – CDT Thru Hike 2018

 

Lordsburg to Silver City Overview

The first part of this section, out of Lordsburg, was flat and hot. But, This is a good section because the landscape transitions from desert to rolling hills and lots of trees. It’s hard not to like that after 100+ miles of desert. 

Thursday April 26th – CDT Day 6

I got a bit later start today, leaving the Econo Lodge around 8:15am. It seems like most of the hikers at the Econo Lodge who got in from crazy cook yesterday as I did where going to take a zero day. I considered the same, but really wanted to push to make it to Silver City for the Trail Days festival this weekend. 

It was about an hours walk to get our of town and back on to the actual trail. I walked passed a really old man working outside on his yard blasting some metal music. He waved, I waved back. Then I proceeded to play the air guitar in approval of his choice of music, to which he pumped his fist in the air. “You good? Need any water?” he asked. “I’m all topped off, thanks for asking. Rock on man!” I replied. This made me smile. 

After turning off on to highway 90, the trail splits off from the road and into some ranch land. It’s super easy to miss though, only marked by 2 blue poles along the fence line. On the other side, no trail or markers can be seen. Makes you really wonder if you’re in the right place or trespassing. 

Back into the open desert

This next section is flat, wide open and not the most interesting. It’s going to be over 12 miles with little or no shade. Easy walking, but another hot day. Real feel in the low 90s. I saw a couple of jackrabbits and a horned lizard, that’s about it. 

Lordsburg in the distance

After walking about 3 hours non-stop from Lordsburg I came across my first shade, a small tree in a wash. I stopped here for lunch. Man is it hard to get up and get back into that heat afterwards!

Before stopping I had only seen maybe 3 CDT markers, but they were more frequent now. I walked about another hour and a half before entering some new Ranch land that was at the base of some Hills in a canyon. Engineer Canyon I believe. It was nice to get out of the open desert.

Dead coyote. Those vicious cows must have got him

The smart desert hiker spend his afternoons under any available shade

Working my way up the canyon, I came across the couple of dry water tanks, some cows and a dead coyote. As a followed the wash through the canyon, I came across it really nice shade tree that I couldn’t pass up. It was 2pm now and I had covered around 15 miles, so it was time to get out of the heat for a little bit. 

Not far up the trail I encountered a full trough of water. It was green but would have been decent water to filter. Going by the water report, I opted to hike to the co-op windmill at Mile 102. 

By the time I reached the co-op windmill, I was pretty dehydrated. I thought I had drink almost 4 liters, but upon inspecting my water bladder I had probably drank closer to 2.5 today. I was not very hydrated when setting out this morning to begin with. Yeah, not smart… 20 miles hiked in low 90° Temps through the desert. There was a spigot under the windmill, first thing I did was fill a liter and poured it over my head and upper body. I quickly filtered another liter to drink, which almost brought tears to my eyes. It’s been quite a while since I was in such desperate need of water and the feeling is tough to describe if you’ve never been there. 

Now that’s some high quality H2o

I proceeded to fill my 4L platypus dirty water bag, but I only got another 2L before the spigot went dry. Really now? There was a cow trough that looked had nasty green algae water. Initially I thought it was a no go, but there was a lid covering one corner of the trough. Underneath was much cleaner water, despite tons of bug debris… It looks like a bunch of wings. After swishing these aside, I was able to scoop fairly clean looking water which I then dumped into my platypus bag to use with my gravity system. Boom, good water! I ate dinner here, drank 2.5L and filtered 5L to carry. Tomorrow will be dry too. 

Over the hill lies a whole new environment. No more flat open desert! For now anyways

I hit the trail again around 7pm. I wanted to knock out a few more miles before dark, as well as not wanting to sleep next to the windmill with all the cows. The trail climbs uphill from here. Once at the top, there was an expansive view of more wilderness. The trail follows the top of a Ridgeline for a while before dipping down into a new environment. Easily the best views yet. This energized me as I hiked on another 45 minutes. I found a place to camp about 20 minutes before sunset. I never saw that person after leaving the paved highway in Lordsburg. What a day!

Miles – 21.66
Total Miles – 113.3
Rain – no
Sleep – Backcountry tent
Animals – rabbits, horned lizard

Friday April 27th – CDT Day 7

Quiet night, but slept poorly. Cooler and cloudy this morning. 

Todays walk started off easy. Forested hillsides with little Elevation change. Lots of places to camp just off trail on soft sand. 

After an hours hike I reached hwy 90. I had a few bars of cell signal but no data. I called my dad to hash out the logistics for my resupply box in Pie Town before moving on. 

Gopher Snake

The next section was enjoyable… New terrain, nice views and easy. So easy that I wasn’t paying attention to my footing and almost stepped on a snake. It looked poisonous at first but upon closer inspection, it lacked the diamond head and rattle. Gopher snake. Still, don’t want to step on it and get bit. 

I liked the views over the next couple hours. Rolling hills, trees and occasional grassland. Not stunning but a really nice walk in a unique looking environment. 

I came across a cooler full of pop and beer for CDT hikers near the jacks peak /burro peak trailhead. Yay! I helped myself to a pop and moved on. 

Now the trail begins to climb. A lot. And climbs some more. Now there are pine trees, first I’ve seen on the CDT. 

Soon enough I was near the top of Jack’s peak. There’s some campsites up here and foundations of old buildings. At the summit is several cell towers. Apparently none for AT&T though, as I had no data. 

Taking a break below Burro Peak first 8,000ft mountain on the trail

Next the trail dips briefly before heading back up to burro peak. Not a great summit view with the vegetation, but still a decent. It’s just over 8000ft, the highest yet on the CDT. 

Really nice walk through pine forest coming down from burro. I stopped for a break at the first nice view, and man was it a good one. And wouldn’t you know it, I had cell service and LTE now! Perfect. 

After my break, I had a decision to make. Take the cut off trail through deadmans canyon or head towards Burro Mountain Homestead. I need water, and mud spring is near the junction of the two trails, so that’s where I headed. 

I spent about Half hour looking for mud spring before realizing it’s along the trail and not down the mountain off trail like my GPS coordinates indicated. The spring looked like a campground fire ring filled with water. You’d want to filter this, but I opted to wait… Thinking I’ll stay the night at the homestead. Just yesterday, Wayne at the burro mountain homestead posted on the CDT Facebook page that a certain area is open to CDT hikers for free tent camping, along with water and free shower. Can’t beat that! 

I passed a hiker named cracker on the way. He gave me his map of the homestead and told me the office is closed. It’s basically an rv park /campground /trailer park, but had pretty good amenities. I set up my tent in the “orchard” along orchard drive. The shower felt amazing after such a long day! 

Miles – 25.4
Total Miles – 138.7
Rain – no
Sleep – rv Park /campground in tent
Animals – rabbits, deer, gopher snake

Saturday April 28th – CDT Day 8

I was pretty sore this morning and got a bit slower start. I can’t wait swap my foam sleeping pad for the inflatable, just as soon as the threat of thorny plants and cacti subsidies. Then I’ll sleep better. 

My walk this morning was boring and uneventful along Tyrone Rd. The plan is to get to Silver City as early as possible, so I’ll hike to hwy 90 and attempt to hitch into town. 

When I reached 90, I started walking north as I put my thumb out. Several cars passed before a pick up stopped. The woman had a CDT hat on, and was headed to Silver City for Trail Days herself. She dropped me off at the silver city rv park, where I planned to stay. I got out of the truck and she drove away before I could grab my pack from the bed of the truck, so I chased after her. Luckily she stopped! 

Checked in at the Rv park, showered and picked up my first bounce box. A bounce box is a package filled with things that I send myself every other town or so as I progress up the trail. I have extra batteries, first aid supplies, vitamins, ziplock bags for food, etc in the box. Most importantly, I have the 2 in 1 laptop/tablet I am using right now to update this blog as well as a hard drive to dump my photos and GoPro video to and interact with my GPS unit. I mailed the box direct to the RV park, but will have to wait until Monday morning to ship it to the next destination, the town of Grants… about 300 miles up trail. 

Next I headed out for food. I went to a place called Fry House for chicken wings. Been craving them for several days now. Behind the bar, a cooler full of Four Loko caught my eye. I thought they outlawed it, hadn’t seen it in a few years. I asked the bartender if it’s a popular drink around here. Apparently, they are used to make a drink called a Mexican Trashcan where you pour shots of liquor into the Four Loko. Those days are gone for me, I’ll pass! 

Then I headed up to western New Mexico university for the trail days festival. I wandered around campus for a while until I found a bunch of booths set up on an athletic field. Yay, freebies! I got half way through the booths before they started to pack up for the day. 

Back at the RV park, hikers were gathered around drinking beer and swapping stories. Most of us headed back up to the university for the trail days keynote speaker event at 7pm. Cam “Swami” has hiked over 60,000 miles in 56 counties, and is known for his “12 long walks” in a year and a half. He hiked over 10,000 miles in one calendar year.. what a beast!

Miles – 8.2
Total Miles – 146.9
Rain – no
Sleep – rv Park /campground in tent
Animals – deer

Sunday April 29th – CDT Day 9 (Zero Day)

Today was my first “zero” day, which means zero miles hiked. And it felt great! No alarm to wake up to, just a full day of rest. Most other hikers I started with on April 21st took a zero day in Lordsburg, but I pushed to make it to Silver City for trail days. 

cdt 2018 silver city

It was a nice leisurely morning bullshitting with the remaining CDT hikers before they took off. It really emptied out by noon. I used the hard drive in my bounce box to dump my pictures and video and spent much of the afternoon on my laptop updating this blog. The mini usb cable I brought to connect my GPS to my laptop wouldn’t allow the computer to see the GPS. Could be a charging only cable, no data transfer. I walked to a few stores before realizing nobody carries these in stock anywhere. I called my dad and had him throw in a known working cable into my next resupply box.

Later in the afternoon, the RV park’s camp host Kat offered to take a few of us hikers up to Walmart. The folks at the RV par are super hiker friendly! Bought my food for the next section and picked up a super lightweight pair of sandals to wear in camp. I also picked up another set of headphones since the earbud fell out during the last section. I gots to have my metal music!

I spent the rest of the evening going through my bounce box and resupplying items in my pack. Back on trail tomorrow!