Lordsburg to Silver City (76 miles/122 km)
We spent a rather relaxing zero (rest day) in Lordsburg. My shin had started to bother me the previous day wich meant that I really appreciated the rest. We headed out the next day having picked up two new hikers, Mike Honcho and a Swedish girl called Emma, while simultaneously „loosing“ Nick and Dan who decided not to zero and had already left.
We had a small roadwalk out of Lordsburg before we descended again onto the very flat desert floor. Most of the upcoming 15 miles was just cross country, but the signs were luckily easy to spot
Just before we got to the 100 miles marker, we finally started to leave the desert floor and enter some hilly areas
It felt like, after 100 miles, the trail was finally starting. The trail, at least for now, had left the desert floor and “actual hiking” would be the new norm.
The next day was Easter Sunday. To celebrate this occasion, we met up again with Blackbird, Krafty’s fiancé, at a trailhead were she had prepared an Easter Egg hunt and brought some Mimosas as well as muffins and some fresh fruits.
Blackbird had decided to hike the remaining 2 days to Silver City with us. Together we started a big climb leading us atop Burro Peak, a 8500 foot mountain (2600 meters), our highest summit yet.
Shortly after the summit the group splitt up again: Krafty, Blackbird, Yardsale and I followed the actual new trail while the rest of the group took the old CDT that is mainly on dirt roads but is about 10 miles shorter.
Descending from Burro Peak resulted in a drastic change of landscape: Gone seemed the days of desert floor with the trail situated nicely in a loose forest.
The next day we finally met out first natural water source. A welcome relief from the cow tanks and water caches from the previous sections
The trail changed to dirt roads again, but we didn’t mind as we descended into a small canyon full of beautiful rock formations. We also saw our first bear paw print in the sand.
As we were hiking down the canyon suddenly a man appears out of nowhere. After a couple of seconds of confusion we finally recognized him as Beacon, a trail angel Krafty and Blackbird knew from the PCT and who I met in Lordsburg. He was hiking up the trail to look for Blackbird to give her a ride back to her car.
Both of them were planning on returning later to camp with us, but for now Yardsale, Krafty and I were to ourself. We hiked for a couple of hours until we hit the highway. A 13 mile road walk into Silver City was waiting there for us. It was to late for that though and Beacon picked us up to go camping back in the Canyon (The road wasn’t that appealing). Blackbird showed up a while later with some salad, hummus and Margaritas resulting in a fun night, only to be broken by the incoming rain.
The next day we did our first big (paved) road walk. After about 14 miles we got into Silver City, a Hippie city full of coffeehouse’s and cute little stores.
Silver City to Doc Campbell (45 miles/73km)
After eating some Mexican food and resupplying at Walmart we headed out again. After some further 7 miles of road walking we arrived at a trailhead were we meat up Blackbird again. She had brought some beer and, more importantly, a cake. Yardsale’s birthday was the following day and we wanted to celebrate a bit. We also ended up having our first camp fire of the trail.
The next morning we had out final goodbye with Blackbird who headed back to Illinois. We started hiking on the Gila River Alternate, an alternate that unsurprisingly follows the Gila River north and reconnects with the actual CDT about 100 miles later.
We spent the whole first day though getting to the river. Already we could notice the change in vegetation caused by the water nearby.
After an exhausting day we finally got to the river and camped at a tributary just before it.
That night Russ was strolling around (probably looking for a good bathroom spot) and found some cliff dwellings. The area we were in was settled around 800 years ago by some Native Americans who built small houses in caves that are normally located up in some cliffs.
The following day our big river adventure started. We only had around 16 miles until our next resupply point at Doc Campells but the Gila was turning this into a challenge. We constantly had fo cross the river as steep cliff walls constricted our movements.
We arrived in Doc Campells late afternoon were we picked up our resupply boxes and enjoyed some ice-cream. After that we headed down to the campground to relax in the natural hot springs and enjoy some beer that our old friend Beacon had brought up from Silver City.
Doc Campbell’s to Pie Town (131 miles/211 km)
The next day we had a small road walk before continuing on the river. In a retroperspective I would describe the next two days as one of the most beautiful hiking sections I have ever done. The canyon narrows and is surrounded by beautiful cliffs. The scenery was just staggering.
Over 3 days we crossed the Gila river 247 times. For the 50 miles that we actually followed the river that is on average a crossing every 0.2 miles. While it was absolutely beautiful I think we were all kinda glad to reach Snow Lake where we officially left the river.
Camping at sad like we had our first sub freezing night with all of our water being half frozen in the morning.
From Snow Lake to Pie Town the trail was mainly following dirt roads, but I actually somewhat enjoyed being able to get some miles in compared to the rather slow going Gila
We also saw our first bit of snow on top off a 9500 foot mountain (2900 m). I’m pretty sure it’s just a taste of what is to come.
It feels like the trail has finally started. From beautiful hills, high mountains and deep canyons the trail delivered spectacular scenery and fun hiking. I have hiked now over 300 miles of this trail (337 to be exact(543km)) and I’m starting to really enjoy this.