To and from the Econolodge they strutted, in various states of confidence and consciousness. Some looked lost in thought (“what have I DONE?!”); others simply seemed content. Some were dirty; some were clean. Several carried food and most carried packs. Like a beehive brimming with its various castes of workers, these wanderers, these seekers of freedom, these misfits and vagabonds-by-choice, went about their business - the business of adventuring - nodding as I passed by, our crisscrossing paths elegantly offering room for all to be. It was easy to tell this was ground zero, base camp, the mothership - not by the number of people (probably 15-20) ambling about, but by the energy of journeys underway. The hikers have descended on this little town, giving it life and presence, these Lords of the Burg. Five days from now I will walk back through and see new faces, and dance the same dance one more time before heading north toward Silver City.
I left Atlanta early this morning and flew to Dallas. It only took me one flight to meet another hiker. As I boarded my flight to El Paso, a voice behind me asked, “are you hiking the CDT?”
“What gave it away?” I grinned. I was holding my food bag in one hand and pack in the other, wearing my hiking clothes.
We road the same bus, together with two other hikers, from El Paso to Lordsburg, a three-hour survey course on desert and truck stops. The Econolodge was our home for the night, so we walked a block over and checked in. I picked up the box I shipped to myself here with my trekking poles, tent stakes, knife, lighter, and trowel. Gear explosion ensued in my room as I spread everything out, got organized, and re-packed. I managed to find the CDTC contact, a man called Radar, here at the Econolodge. He keeps gas canisters to sell as there aren’t any in town. I purchased one and was delighted that it was a small one and not one of the large sizes (less weight!).
I grabbed a chicken quesadilla and a slice of coconut pie from a restaurant called Kranberry’s - absolutely delicious. I grabbed a pack of peanut M&Ms at the local supermarket Saucedo’s, just because I felt like I could. This reminds me - I weighed myself this morning and realized I’m starting this trail about seven pounds heavier than when I started the AT. Yikes! I’ll admit that I’ve been kind of out of control with sweets lately. It’s like my body knew I would be thru-hiking and threw caution to the wind. Oh well.... the desert will take it away from me.
Tomorrow the CDTC shuttle leaves at 6:30. It’s supposed to take 3 hours to get to the border. I believe the first water source is 13 miles in, so I will carry 5 liters to the border and then chug at least one, if not two, before I hike. The real game is, how much water can I drink to get hydrated before taking the shuttle and not risk wetting myself before we get there! At 41, this is a real game I play now. I wonder if anyone has ever wet themselves at the monument. I guess I could pretend I was just that excited.
Tomorrow is a big day! I’m incredibly excited. It was hard leaving my wife again this morning though, and our little fur ball Lucy is probably going to be confused and upset for a while. I’m grateful to have the support of a loving wife and someone who cheers me on to go after my dreams. That’s really amazing. I’m grateful for all of your support as well, all of you who are willing to read my account of this journey, however it unfolds. When I touch the Crazy Cook monument at the Southern Terminus tomorrow, I know I will feel your collective energy behind me.