Peter on the Continental Divide Trail: Here we go! The U.S. Border to Deming (Segment 1)

For 2013 Hyperlite Mountain Gear is sponsoring one thru-hiker on each of the Appalachian Trail (AT), Continental Divide Trail (CDT) and Pacific Coastal Trail (PCT).  Here’s the first update from the trail by Peter, Hyperlite Mountain Gear’s sponsored CDT hiker.   Peter will keep all of us up do date with periodic posts and pictures from his journey.  We hope you’ll check in regularly to follow Peter along the trail!

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After 7 years of dreaming about hiking the CDT I’m here. It’s amazing to be in a place that you’ve thought about, dreamed about and thought about for some many years. My arrival into Deming was good because I had my family with me to wish me well for the trail. It was great to have everyone there. At 8 am, Saturday April 20th I was picked up by local trail angel Keith to take me down to the border. He’s been helping hikers like me for many years and is a great resource not just to get to the trail but for rides around town and he’s happy to stash water for you along the route too. On our way down, he showed me important intersections and introduced some of the people who I could get water from when I got there. This area has a great collection of local people with big smiles, great stories and colorful personalities.

After a 30 minute drive we finally arrived on the border. It’s not what you would expect from all that you hear on the news about it. It’s pretty much a couple of buildings, a big long fence and streams of cars coming and going. Keith talked asked the border patrol to let us walk up to the international line to get some of the traditional pictures of me standing at the border fence and next to the U.S. border plaque (every CDT hiker probably has this picture!). It’s pretty amazing looking at the fence and think about walking the 3,000 miles to the next border all the way north to Canada. So after some pictures, final gear preparations and a kiss on the border sign I started walking. It’s a pretty amazing feeling beginning something you have worked so hard to accomplish. I will embarrassingly admit that it was an emotional 3 miles to the town of Columbus. I cried a little because you think of all the sacrifices you have to go through to make something like this happen. At least in my case it was a lot of sacrifice and hard decisions that got me here.

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The first 56 miles is walking mostly on 4×4 roads back to Deming. You first go through the town of Columbus which looks like an old abandoned mining town that has no reason to be there. Oddly there are a bunch of people driving around in really nice trucks but ugly houses so it makes you wonder what kind of business they are in… just sayin. 1 mile outside of Columbus I ran into border patrol who told me they were on the lookout for a pair of illegals and asked if I had seen them. The guy was nice and we chatted for a minute before saying goodbye and good luck on my journey. That night I walked about 15 miles to a water cache that was left by Keith (thank you Keith!). It took me a while to find it because everything looks the same out here, everything blends into everything else so it’s hard to get your bearings. After finding the cache 30 minutes before sunset I set up camp and climbed inside the tent to hide out from the 30-40 mph wind gusts that had been pounding me all day.

Day 2 brought more wind and blowing sand like yesterday. I started out with a walk to Willie’s house where I could get more water. Willie is a great guy with a nice house surrounded by lots of tree’s and dogs. He’s been helping hikers for many years, letting them take as much water as they like when they pass through. I took just over a gallon of water from Willie’s to make it across the 10 mile cross country walk to the 4×4 road on the other side of the Florida Mountains. I was certain I would see a rattlesnake on this section of open country but thankfully did not. If I don’t see a rattler the entire trip I’ll be happy —  I hate snakes.

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I passed several windmill driven wells today. Their holding tanks contained various amounts of water with varying degrees of water quality. One smelled disgusting (poo!) while another had a whole hive of bees swarming in it. I found some water from a tank that had good water: no bee’s and very few nasty things floating in it. At this point  my body was feeling good, my pack felt great and my feet didn’t hurt. The only thing that was hurting on me was my right knee. It’s odd because that has never hurt before on a hike so it’s strange that it’s happening now. I made camp and went to sleep early hoping my knee pain would go away.

On my third day I was happy to be heading towards Deming and getting out of the wind. I had only about 18 miles to go to get to town and 3/4 of that was road walking which doesn’t take much time. I walked through the Florida Gap to another trail angel that let me take water from their hose which was much better then the water I had gotten from the tank the day before. After tanking up there and taking about 2 liters with me I made the final road walk back to Deming. I’ve decided to take a zero day here to let my very sore knee rest and to make changes to my plan after hearing that the resupply in Mimbres is no longer there, forcing me to do a 8 day carry to Doc Campbell’s.

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In all I feel great and am excited to finally be out here walking the CDT.  We’ll see how the next section goes but, I can tell already that I like thru hiking.

The post Peter on the Continental Divide Trail: Here we go! The U.S. Border to Deming (Segment 1) appeared first on Hyperlite Mountain Gear Blog.