We’re 195 miles into the CDT and over the past 180 miles we’ve seen zero hikers on the trail. In fact, we haven’t seen anyone on the trail period. No bikers, other campers, etc. No one. Yet this morning we saw two black bears within one hour! Thankfully they both ran away. While we’d heard the CDT can get lonely this is way more so than we ever imagined.
This speaks to my alternative name for the CDT: the Naked Trail. No, I don’t hike naked, but I can stand outside and wipe myself down each night with my bandana to stay clean, getting buck naked without any worry of offending. Heck, I’ve found myself getting down to my birthday suit during breaks where we have shade and a nice breeze. It is a very liberating trail.
Along with two bears today, we also saw what we believe is an elk. It looked sort of like a horse and a deer, it had no tail but a different colored patch on its butt, and its hoof prints looked like deer. So we are guessing elk. It didn’t notice us until we were almost right on top of it.
In thinking of these posts, I don’t mean to sound like it is all pain and no pleasure but some of the challenges read like a brochure to a Tough Mudder or Marine Corp challenge course. Yesterday we couldn’t find any water on trail at all. After nearly 20 miles we were about out. I could tell from our maps there were houses about a mile or so down the road so I strapped on an empty pack with nothing but empty bottles I hoped to fill with water. Thankfully, about a mile later I found a guy sitting on his porch who let me fill up. I ran the 16 pounds of water back to Julie triumphantly. There have been numerous other challenges like crawling under barbed wire fences, climbing over them, and figuring out how to use the various gates rigged up to keep cattle contained. It is all part of the adventure!
Lastly, along with the heat, animals, and the water issues, the biggest challenge has been staying on trail. We had flirted with getting off track numerous times but it wasn’t until Tuesday on our way out of Silver City that we really screwed up. Our free Internet guide said to head out of town on a particular road and didn’t mention any turns. Bonehead move on our part, we didn’t check our maps. When I pulled up our gps coordinates about five road miles later we were far far away from the trail. It was almost dark and we dejectedly hitch hiked back to town, stayed in a motel, and tried again the next day. We eventually got to the trail but did manage to get lost numerous times that day. It is a major challenge for us but at this point any time there is any doubt on the route, we are checking our maps and the GPS because nothing sucks worse than realizing we’ve gone the wrong way. But today we stayed on track and along with our wildlife acquaintances, we are having a good time.