Lordsburg

Lordsburg (05_014)
Day 6 – 4/26/17
Miles – 0
Total miles – 85.0

We took a zero here in Lordsburg. There is so much to do when you get to town that an extra day was needed. Also it gave us a little time to let it bodies heal. Mama Raven is having a lot of problems with one foot and where her pole hit her when she fell.  Last night we discovered she had two blisters under two different toe nails. We popped both of them and they are feeling better. I have blisters on both heals. One is healing great and the other still hurts. Bling’s blister is under a callus and can not be popped. We will just have to let that one heal on its own.

We will leave tomorrow for Silver City. It is a four day section. We will get up to 8000′ crossing a mountain range. Hopefully it will go smoothly.

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Bling’s First Blog – Mexico to Lordsburg

We took a  three hour shuttle in a pick up truck on a very bumpy dirt road to reach the Crazy Cook monument. This is where the CDT begins.  At first I was really excited to begin our trip. However, after the first day of hiking in New Mexico, I was pretty much over my excitement. It was very hot with no shade.  We walked in the same terrain mile after mile.  Our only water sources we will have for  awhile is a few water caches and cow water drinking troughs, which the water was an appetizing shade of brown with Moss, algae and lots of dead bugs.  The CDT is very different than the PCT because in so many areas there is no trail.  Instead, we hiked from post to post through small bushes and ocotillos.  One fun thing that happened was finding an old bike with flat tires on the trail. I rode it up the trail with my pack on.  There is lots of illegal alien activity in the area, so we think it was one of theirs. Finally, after three days of hiking in hot weather, it started to cool down. On the last day when we were walking into Lordsburg we were caught in a sandstorm.  The wind got up to 40-45 miler per hour.  Our legs were sandblasted by the sand.  For several miles we walked against the wind which was very tiring. Other times we were pushed side ways making walking hard. 

List of hikers we met and where they are from:
Catwater, Anchorage, Alaska
Johnny, Berlin, Germany
Dassie, South Africa
Burning Calves, Germany
High Country, Wyomming
Raven, Reno, Nevada
Ted, Michigan
Nut Hatch unknown
Thatch, unknown
Cat, Taiwan

Animal Sitings:
Rattlesnake – 1
Racer snake -1
Cows – many
Dead cows – 3

Into Lordsburg

Lordsburg (05_014)
Day 5 – 4/25/17
Miles – 17.3
Total miles – 85.0

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The wind blew most of the night, but we were shielded from it by a stand of 12′ high trees. A big reason why we choose this location was is protection from the wind.  We are short a few litters of water, so we hiked 1.2 miles to the next tank and filtered it.  The wind was strong as we hiked the flat open plain toward Pyramid Mountain. As we rounded it, the wind really started to push us around. We found out later that the wind was a sustained 35 mph with gusts up to 45 mph.   When we topped the ridge and started down toward our last water cache and Lordsburg we had a great view north at a sand storm. The sand storm was not thick.  It was like a thin fog with reduced visibility and stinging sand as it hit our legs and faces. Periodically, we would have to spit sand out of our mouths.  Finally, we reached the cache to get water and hide behind the large metal container. After 30-45 minutes, we reluctantly headed back into the wind storm over to the short cut road to Lordsburg.
Several miles from town, the sand storm blow by us and we had much better views of the surrounding terrain. It looked about the same as the last four days have. All six of us (4 Ravens, Catwater, and Dassie) got rooms, showers, and a good dinner. We will be taking a zero tomorrow. Around five o’clock, six weary hikers limped into Lordsburg. For right now The Ravens, Catwater and Dassie have become a hiking team. At some point or another,  that will change, but for right now it is a perfect match and we can help keep others spirits up.

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Windy

Williams Tank (04_083)
Day 4 – 4/24/17
Miles – 17.3
Total Miles – 67.7

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The day started out cool and clear and finished windy and cloudy. All The Ravens, Dassie, and Catwater started hiking just after the sun rose.  In about a mile, we got to a 10′ high water tank with good water in it. Cat, a thru-hiker from Taiwan was here getting water also.  Cat started the same day we did, but we have not seen him since that first day.  Because we had plenty to hike the 8.8 miles to the next cache, we did not take any drinking water.  However, we did take the opportunity for the first time in four days to rinse off the thick layer of dirt and sweat from our arms and faces.  Additionally we rinsed out a pair of socks.
Our terrain today was hiking through low hills separated by flat valleys. After three of these, we walked out into a very wide, flat valley, which is about 12 miles across. We only made it part of the way. As we past through the hills, we took a very long break under a very rare shade tree in the Chihuahaun Desert. We were trying to hike only 16 miles today, because that would leave another 16 tomorrow and then 4 miles into town . That would give us almost all of Wednesday as a town day.  Of coarse plans change, even from morning to afternoon.
As we were exiting the last set of hills, an older gentleman without a backpack, walking in the opposite direction, met up with us. He informed us that he was out doing some Trail Angeling and offered us shade, cold drinks, food. No thru-hiker ever turns down such an offer. His name is Apple (real name, go figure) and he had built a small portable geodesic dome, to withstand high winds on the top of a ridge next to the trail.  Underneath the shade of the dome, we sat in chairs and had Gateraid, lemonade, chips, pecan pie, apple pie, and whipped cream. Apple is from Cincinnati.  He comes out once a year to do this for the hikers.  After his two weeks here, he goes home and returns to the CDT in July  to Trail Angel again. The passion of Trail Angels is very special!   Apple told us that we could cut a couple of miles off the walk to town by taking a road just after the fifth water cache.  Unanimously, we decided to push on today and get into Lordsburg tomorrow.
As we were leaving the hills and walking out onto the open plain,  the wind came up. It was strong, out of the West. It blew into our faces all afternoon. With the wind, came clouds. At first thin high ones but by sundown, they had thickened.
Toward the end of the day, we started looking for water. We had gotten water from Apple, but not enough to make it to the next cache. Water would have to be gotten somewhere. We finally stopped at Williams Tank. Bling, Joon, Dassie and I hiked up the hill to a cattle trough to fill our bottles. The trough had algae and bugs living in it, but the water was mostly clear unlike, the brown water found in most of the cow troughs. We decided to stop for the night in this location instead of going on to the next water because there was a small group of twelve foot high Cat Claw trees that would shield us from the wind.  If our mileages are correct, we have 15 miles to get into Lordsburg. We should make that tomorrow.

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Oh, the Feet Hurt

Vista Tank (03_038)
Day 3 – 4/23/17
Miles – 20.1
Total miles – 50.4

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The day started out cool and windy.  The temperature was perfect for hiking. To make things even better, we had about 9 miles of walking on a dirt road. This meant a nice open path with few obstacles. We exited the road just before our first water source, a well the fed small pond. We caught up with Dassie, a young women from South Africa who started the trail the same day we did.  Yesterday, we were told that the well was operational, but we could not get it to work. Luckily, we had enough water to get us another 6 miles more to the third water cache.
Water is a big topic throughout New Mexico.  We are hike through the Chihuahua Desert and it is dry! After we get beyond the water caches, we will be completely relying on water wells.  The wells out here are water source for the cattle, so in many cases it is not the best water to look at, all brown and mucky with cow prints and droppings in and around it. Not appealing at all. So for the first 85 miles, all CDT hikers are so very grateful for the caches.
As the afternoon wore on, the wind died down and the heat rose.  Joon is the only one that is not having some kind the foot problem.  Bling has his first blister and it is in a bad place, under a callus. He tried lancing it but he could not reach it. Papa Raven had inflamed areas around each heal. They burn as he walks. Mama Raven has two blister on either side of the same toe, and her Planters Fascitis is causing severe heal pain.  All of this is on her right foot.  Her chest pain from falling on her hiking pole handle is still bothering her.
After leaving the water cache, we hiked four more miles, passing two tire tanks, which are large tracker tires that have been converted to water troughs for cows. We finally got to Vista Tank a large dried up pond. Why it is called a tank, I have no idea. It is a pond.
Dassie, and Catwater are camped with us.  We all agreed, we pushed ourselves a little too far today in the hot temperatures. Catwater is experiencing a severe case of heat exhaustion and completely unable to hold down any food. Dassie and Mama Raven are sound asleep in the tents, Papa Raven is cooking dinner while Bling and Joon are having a squirt gun fight out in the dried pound bed. Those two have endless supply of energy.

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Second Days Blues

Just after Hachita Peak Road (02_033)
Day 2 – 4/22/17
Miles – 16.0
Total miles – 30.3

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The Four Ravens, Catwater from Alaska and Johnny from Germany, set up camp in a sandy wash.  Completely exhausted, we are setting up camp early, while a nearby herd of cows moo us to sleep. The most difficult part of the day was the heat, with no shade to be found from the low growing vegetation.  The heat really got to Catwater, Mama Raven and Johnny.  They were unable to consume food because eating made them feel nauseated, which made them have very little energy throughout the day.  Despite this, we still managed to hike sixteen miles.  Mama Raven took a fall today and she fell face first to the ground.  Painfully, her upper chest landed on the handle end of one of her hiking poles that was sticking straight up.  She is very sore and hurts with every breath and movement she makes.  As Mama Ravens said beginning can be tough!
There are a lot of cows in this area. We have been hiking on BLM range land and ranches. So far we have seen more cow skeletons then rattlesnakes 2/1.  We are lucky the Continental Divide Collation supplies 5 water catches in the first 85 miles of the CDT. We have been using them for water. All the other water we have seen has been from wells supplying water for the cows. These tanks can have some pretty bad looking water.  Before this trip is done we might have to use some of that nasty water. Today’s hiking was not so much trail hiking, but instead walking from one post to another. For the most part, it was easy to do, however a few times a post would take a hard left or right and we would continue to go straight loosing our track.  We would then stop and look at maps, or just spreading out and searching for the next post.

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Johnny

Day one

First water cache ()
Day 1 – 4/21/17
Miles – 14.3
Total Mile -14.3
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First day out of Crazy Cook Monument: brutal.  We started hiking from the Mexican boarded at 9:42pm. We came into camp tonight very tired, hot, thirsty and very sore!  Actually, the terrain is very easy to walk. However the weight of the pack, altitude (4,700′), and the heat, we are not use to has taken a toll on us. Additionally, the air is incredibly dry, thus we constantly are consuming water. On any given long hike, the first days of hiking are tough and today was no exception.  Give us a few days and we will be feeling better.  Nonetheless, we are glad we are here.  The New Mexico night is stunning with millions of stars twinkling above.  There is a soft breeze rattling our tents.  A dove cooing off in the distant. Ten hikers left the monument today, and ten made it to the water cache.  We are camped near a canyon that Geronimo and thirty of his braves led their entire tribe of women, children, elders through the Hatcet Mountains to escape the finest US. Calvary troops. The American soldier’s horses could not make it through the mountains and all Apache Indians made it safely into Mexico. That was a hundred and thirty years ago, tonight ten tired hikers in a mesquite and creosote covered valley, in the boot of New Mexico, are going to sleep very well tonight.

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About to begin

After several days, we have finally made it to Lordsburg New Mexico, which is a very small town near the Arizona and New Mexico border. The departure from our home was difficult and full of mixed emotions. The lead up to the this moment has been overwhelming and it was a relief to finally drive away.   There are many unknowns to concern us but at the same time there is excitement.  Additionally, there was sadness to leave behind our home.  Little Crow had a hard time saying good bye to our cats. Despite our late start Tuesday, we made it to Grandpa Ravens house in Arizona by 9:00 in the evening. We spent yesterday doing a few last minute tasks, and today  we drove  to Lordsburg.  Thanks Bob and Melody for taking the time to get us here!
It was 4:00 as we drove into town and we needed to go by the PO to mail the first few resupply boxes.  Unfortunately, we had not planned on the time change as we entered New Mexico.  The PO was closed at 5:00 pm.   Grandpa Raven agreed to mail the boxes when he gets home. We stopped by the Econolodge and bumped into Catwater, who is a dear friend and fellow PCT hiker from 2015. She was just checking into the hotel.  After all of us settled into our rooms, the five of us had dinner at a diner across the street.  Our shuttle leaves 6:15 in the morning, so we did not stay out long so we could take showers and retire early for tomorrow’s big day.

Little Crows New Name

We leave tomorrow.     Because of things our of our control we had to put off our departure by one day.   We will still be starting out hike on the 21st.  The shuttle waits for no one.

All the boxes are done, taped up and handed off to friends Karin and Denise, who will mail them for us through out the summer.   They know what they are getting into because they did this job for us on our PCT hike.   We have figured out the last of the equipment issues.  There are just a few little things that still need to be bought.  We are working hard on getting the house ready.  Mama Raven is cleaning it from stem to stern.  She wants to leave a good impression on the people staying here.

When we did the PCT in 2015 we had one person stay at our house to take care of the pets the whole time.  This time we will be having two people stay at different times of the summer.  However, we do not have anybody for the last week of August and September.    Frantically,  we are trying to resolve the issue.

Little Crow  is growing up quick and she wants a new name that does not make her sound like a “little” girl.  Thus, she will be hunting a new name on the CDT.  Mama Raven has  suggested Yo-yo, ?  But I think someone else should name her, that way it will not be bias.

One Week To Go

Only one week before we drive out of here and head toward New Mexico.  We are still working hard with many last minutes tasks.  The boxes are almost finished and ready to be taped up.  It seems we have been saying that a while, but there always seems to one more item here and there that needs to be added.  A well worn tire  path  from our drive way to Wal-Mart and back home has been established these past few weeks.  Additionally, we have been cleaning up the house and getting it ready for the people who will be staying here and taking care of our two cats, five tortoises,  and one fish tank of misc critters (Betta fish, frogs, sucker fish and a snail).   At the moment, we do not have anyone who can stay at our house the last week of  August and the next three or so weeks of September.  Hopefully, we will  have a solution.

Bling and Little Crow have a little more school work to finish.  Bling has to do some work on solving quadratic equations, and take a biology test.   Little Crow needs to finish reading  “Abe Lincoln Grows Up”.   Meanwhile, Mama Raven is sewing pack covers.  Normally we do not use pack covers for rain,  although we are going to try them out this year.   Pre-made covers a range from $40-$60 each.  Since there are four of us, that becomes too expensive so we decided to make our own.   We found an inexpensive kit that makes very light weight covers.

https://ripstopbytheroll.com/collections/diy-kits/products/pack-cover-kit

We also made  warm mittens for the same reason.  One pair of light weight gloves cost $30-$35.  Again, times that by four, and it becomes too cost prohibited.  There is quiet a bit of gear that most long distant hikers use that we can only wish for such as the Neo air insulate pads.  They are $160 each.  We make do with our foam pads and we sleep well on them.

Papa Raven is getting our taxes done and trying to figure out how to strap the snow  shoes to our backpacks.   The list of tasks goes on.   Nonetheless, we will be ready to go  Monday whether it all gets done a not.

On Monday we will drive to Blythe for the night.  Then we will drive to Papa Raven’s dad’s house, in Arizona.  After staying there a day, Grandpa Raven will drive us to Lordsburg, New Mexico.  In the morning we will catch a shuttle to Crazy Cooks Monument.  The drive to Crazy Cooks is not gentle on cars.  It is a 3 hours ride on 4-wheel drive roads.  The shuttle service says “You may be requested to help dig the vehicle out of sand, help with flat tires, or deal with other vehicular issues.”  Also if it had rained recently the roads could be impassable and washed out.  Getting to the starting of the trail could be interesting.

There are four other thru-hikers, we know, that will be hiking the CDT this year.  Each of them hiked the PCT in 2015, the same year we did.  First is Rabbit, we do not have any contact information for him so we do not know where he will be or when he will start.  Second is Dundee, who is starting  May 1.  He is a fast hiker,  thus he should be able to catch up to us.  The third thru-hiker is Treeman, who is from Germany; he is starting today.  Treeman was with us the snowy day Bling’s femur broke   He just finished the Grand Canyon’s Rim-2-Rim-2-Rim.  With luck, we will catch up to him in a few weeks.  The fourth hiker is our good friend Catwater from Alaska!  We will have no problem encountering her, because she is starting the same day we are.  In fact, she will be on the shuttle with us.   Our hiking schedule lines up with hers for the first few weeks.

We can’t wait to start walking!