CDT Day 1: From the Border to Beyond

Miles Hiked: 14

Breakfast at the hotel was being served at 6 am and the shuttle was scheduled to leave for the border at six-thirty. I wake up just 15 minutes before breakfast and since my gear was already sorted and packed I am ready in no time. 

While walking to the breakfast area, I pass by a CDT volunteer named “Radar” who looks suspiciously at me. I sit my backpack onto a chair, introduce myself and turn in my CDT Coalition Liability form. After a few moments he asks “Have you hiked before?” — Have I what?! Of course I say “Yes“, feeling very judged. ‘It’s just the ego’ I try to tell myself let it go.

Hoping for a hot breakfast, I went straight for the waffle maker. I smear my waffle with two pats of butter, peanut butter and syrup then eat in silence, finishing it off with a cup of coffee and two cups of orange juice.

After a while people began talking to one another. Some people are just arriving from the trail and others are preparing for the shuttle just as I was. The shuttle is running late and Radar informs us that they are waiting on a couple more people. The shuttle leaves the hotel much later than I had expected. The drive to the border was going to be at least 3 hours long. I was becoming a bit anxious about starting the hike later, knowing how important it is start get an early start in the desert. 

Our driver’s name is Juan, a very friendly guy who shares with us a few facts about the trail along the drive. He points out several water cache sites and landmarks as we pass each one. Finally, around 10:00 am we reach the Crazy Cook Monument on the Mexican border. Juan kindly snaps a few photos of us near the monument and wishes us “Good luck!” before driving back to Lordsburg.

Still feeling a bit numb about it all, I don’t  chat much with the other 6 hikers from the shuttle and decide to just begin hiking. The others stay behind at the monument for a while after I started. I began hiking around 10:15 am. I’m confused about how I am feeling and wonder “What happened to my excitement?” It still feels like a dream. I feel that tomorrow I will wake up in my own bed and it will be just another day at home dreaming about hiking the Continental Divide Trail. But I don’t wake up and I am hiking the Continental Divide. 

A hiker from our shuttle, named “Limey” is going for the Triple Crown and is on a mission to beat some speed record. He zips past me no more than 20 minutes or so after I began the trail. Actually I expect everyone from our shuttle will pass me soon enough as I have a slow but steady hiking pace. 

Quickly I fall into a routine, stopping to drink water and pop some snacks into my mouth every hour. Snack of the day: Prailine Pumpkin Seeds! SO GOOD! Better than any trail mix, any day. Plus the entire bag is around 600 calories! BONUS. Too bad it was my only bag. I actually bought it to snack on for shuttle ride but ended up eating them on the trail during breaks.

The breaks are perfect. They leave me refreshed to continue another few miles. My routine falls in line with another hiker named “ABC”. I am impressed with my mileage. Nothing hurts and I am hardly struggling at all. So far so good. Perhaps it is because I am so lost in my thoughts that time pass so quickly. 

The trail begins a bit flat than continues into a gradual and steady incline. I started the hike off with 4 liters of water. From the trailhead, the first water cache is 14 miles away. That’s the goal for today. Reach the water cache, fill up, have dinner and call it a day. 

The terrain is very familiar and feels very much like home. After-all, the majority of my training was in desert mountains just like this. Everything about the trail is typical Chihuahuan desert, which is my home.

I am very happy with the weight of my pack and all is going well and pretty smooth until around 11 miles in. At this point I begin to think more and more about the water cache site. I just want to get there already! And I feel frustrated to have started so late. But soon enough I reach the water cache box and my day is done. Inside every water cache box from the border to Lordsburg is a notebook for hikers to sign and check in, letting the CDT Coalition volunteers know that each hiker from the shuttles have completed each section. 

After setting up my tent, I make dinner. Mac and Cheese! It was awful… Absolutely unsatisfying. I could hardly get it down. Most of the time I really enjoy making and eating dinner at camp but this is the first time I had made Mac and Cheese on trail. Not my thing. I probably won’t be making much Mac and Cheese again. I managed to get about half of it down, then moved on to prepare a packet of Godiva Dark Chocolate Hot Chocolate. I take a sip. It’s scrumptious! I set it aside to cool. Meanwhile I go to refill my water bottle and when I return to my tent I accidentally knock over the hot chocolate!! “NOOO!” Needless to say that was my only “Godiva” dark hot chocolate packet… 

So I went to sleep. Without my scrumptious Dark hot chocolate. But looking back, it was actually a rather smooth day overall and my body feels good. I wonder what tomorrow will bring.

Also, I haven’t gotten into the picture taking flow yet but will try to add more for tomorrow’s hike 🙂

  

  

  

  
 

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