Cooler Times

Day 6: April 29, 2019

Destination: Stealth Camp Mile 116.7

Today’s Miles: 26.1

Start Location: Stealth Camp Mile 90.6

Trip Miles: 116.7

First of all, today is my Dad’s birthday. Happy birthday Dad!

Today was a fantastic day of hiking! Between Lordsburg and my camp site this evening, I climbed about 2200 feet up to 6400 feet or so in elevation. I am gradually heading into higher places!

Today was also much cooler than yesterday, staying in the upper 70s for most of the day. I just had a brief storm pass over my campsite - mostly wind but a little bit of rain. It is supposed to get down to 43 tonight. I think tomorrow’s high will be in the low 70s. It’s nice to have these cooler times after such hot weather! Of course, when I started the morning I didn’t know any of this, so let me rewind a bit.

I woke up, and as I was packing up, Samson and Heatwave walked by with their headlamps on. It was 5:45, so quite early, but I think we all wanted to get an early start because of the heat. The two of them had cowboy camped, so they were up in a jiffy. For those who might not know, cowboy camping is when you just lay down your groundsheet, sleeping pad and bag, and then sleep without a tent. I am more of a tent person. I asked the two of them and they said nothing ever crawls on them (I’m thinking ants, spiders, scorpions, snakes), but it doesn’t make me feel any better about it. The walls of my tent are nice!

I headed off around six across the cow field we had slept in. At night I could see the lights in Lordsburg glistening, perhaps giving the town a busier look than it might deserve. The morning, however, showcased a beautiful pink and orange sunrise over the mountains. It was breathtaking, so I took a few photos that didn’t do it justice.

It didn’t take that long for the flat pasture to end and for a gradual incline to take its place. The landscape slowly transitioned to a more mountainous feel, but I continued to walk steadily without much pause. I noticed immediately after the sun had risen that it wasn’t brow-beating me like it usually does. I actually had some cloud cover today! This would continue off and on all day, but there was never really a time today when I felt like I was dying from sun exposure. I’ll get to the other reason why in a minute.

I caught up to Samson and Heatwave just in time to arrive at the first water source. It was a cow tank with what I like to call a toilet bobber system. There is a float in the tank, similar to what you would see in a toilet tank. It is there so that if, for any reason, the water gets low beyond a certain level, the bobber will trigger new water to enter from a pump. What’s great about this is we can push the bobber down to get water to come out of a pipe or spigot. Getting the water that way means we don’t have to try to sweep all of the dead bugs and various nasties off the surface and then scoop the water out. It still has to be filtered, of course, but it’s always nice to filter something that has less sediment in it.

At the water source we also celebrated the fact that we had just completed the first 100 miles! Obviously it’s a drop in the bucket, but still pretty cool. I had a snack and filled my water and chatted with Samson and Heatwave, and then Fluffy and Joe Dirt arrived. Apparently they had camped pretty close to us last night, but got a late start. They keep a good pace, so usually pass me earlier than that!

While the others took a longer break, I chugged two liters of water, filled up another 4 and decided to head it. It felt too early for a siesta and there was still some thin cloud cover. I said my “see you down the trails” and took off.

This is when the day started to really get good. The landscape began to change. I was climbing higher and there were suddenly more trees - trees with actual shade! The trail was just an old dirt road for a while, but then it became a proper single track trail. I started walking along ridges that skirted smallish mountains. There was a new sense of green to the landscape. It was really amazing to see all of this after having been in the Bootheel for the last 4 days. The elevation gains were pretty gradual too - not that difficult to keep up a decent pace.

I walked along for a while and eventually walked under a grouping of trees and decided to sit there and eat my lunch. I had some mashed potatoes and peanut butter (not together). I stayed there for about 30-40 minutes, then continued on.

I hiked another 13 miles or so to the next water, which was a short jaunt off the trail down a sandy gully. It was a water trough full of algae and flies, but the water looked decent otherwise - relatively clear. Two other thru-hikers I hadn’t met yet were there: Neon and Legs. I chatted with them for a few minutes while eating some peanut butter in a tortilla, and when they left I went to filter water.

Up until this point, I haven’t had to use my filter that much because of the water caches in the Bootheel. The filter is brand new, and when I’ve used it I have only filtered super clear water. I’m using the Sawyer micro filter that Sawyer advertises as having the same flow rate as the regular Sawyer Squeeze. LIES!!! :-). But seriously, do yourself a favor and don’t buy it. I don’t even need to wait to tell you this. I filtered 1.5 liters from this water source and the flow rate reduced to a pathetic dribble. I back flushed it twice and the flow rate still stinks. A normal Sawyer squeeze that is back flushed regularly would never perform this poorly, at least not until after some seriously heavy usage. Sadly, I’m going to dump this Sawyer micro in Silver City and get a regular Sawyer. It’s a little frustrating because I actually emailed Sawyer to confirm the flow rate and they told me it would have the same flow if I back flushed it regularly. This has not been my experience.

Ok, rant over! I stayed at the cow trough for about an hour. Fluffy showed up right as I was putting on my pack to leave. We talked for a while and I told him I was going to start walking towards the next water, but would probably camp short of it.

At that point I thought it was only 4 miles away, but it was actually 6. Sometimes Guthook does this weird, as the crow flies mileage calculation if you are off trail and look at the miles to get to your next desired location. Once I was back on trail, the miles increased magically. It didn’t matter though, because I had enough water for the night and morning.

Later on, right before crossing a parking lot, I came across some trail magic water. I already had enough for the night and morning, but I took a little just to hydrate a bit more. I rounded the bend and heard some people yell “hiker trash!” Of course I turned around. They called me over, and a lady named Solo was there. She said she is working on doing mobile trail magic. She lives out of her van and she is planning on traveling up and down the CDT during hiking season to do trail magic, similar to what Fresh Ground does on the AT. She was super nice and offered me some food and Koolaid! I talked with her a while about her van setup and how she was planning to get to various sections of the trail. She offered me a dehydrated soup mix to go that looks incredibly good and healthy! I’m really excited about trying it, especially with it getting cooler tomorrow. I took a photo with her, and then she asked if she could take a video of me. Apparently she had a YouTube channel where she has some paddling videos. She likes to canoe and did some paddling on the boundary waters.

Solo and her Trail Magic Van

I said goodbye and hiked a little ways out of that parking lot area. Dark clouds were moving in, so I found a relatively protected spot and pitched camp.

I just loved the hiking today! It was easy to get lost in the scenery and the weather was really great. I was so grateful for Solo’s kindness and happy to be resting up for another adventurous day tomorrow!

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