Day 4: Mile 61.7 – 85.5 (23.8 miles – 38 km)

Saturday April 20, 2019

Once we left the protection of the small stand of creosote bush we were walking in a lunar like landscape. It did not take long for the predawn sunrise to light up the small wisps of cloud hanging around the setting moon. It felt so other worldly, like walking on the moon may be like. We wondered about how Neil Armstrong felt when he walked on the moon? It was cool and the air was clean, it was so quite. A magical start to the day.

Most of the morning we were hiking through cattle ranches that did not see a lot of vegetation cover. There is nowhere to hide if you need to go for a poop.

We were going to have to stop for water before reaching the last water cache. It was a question of which tyre water source was the least offensive before we ran out of water. We bypassed the first one which was murky and completely covered in algal growth. The second one, at mile 69 was not too bad.

We stopped for breakfast and filtered water. Lou-Seal was tempted to go for a swim but changed her mind when she saw the thick algal scum. Once the water was filtered, it still had an earthy taste which I found difficult to swallow.

Our next water cache is in 10 miles, this tyre water refill will have to last till then. I’m sure there will be plenty of cattle trough water sources as we head north. A big bull watched us from a distance, while we took some of his water.

The morning was heating up but a cool wind made it manageable. And time seems to pass fairly quickly. It was only when we turned back that we realised how far we’d come.

Towards lunchtime we had to navigate a long rocky section. I was really feeling it for poor Hammer whose feet were getting a pounding. I think we worked out that his shoe laces may be contributing to his foot problems. He changed over to elastic lock laces which may be putting too much tension on his fore foot. He’ll go back to his old laces when we get back to Lordsburgh.

We took a break under a beautiful shady spot in a creek bed. The cooling breeze and the twitter of birds made it feel idyllic for a rest and a lunch break.

The tyre water was hard to drink but we forced ourselves. It was a hot and windy afternoon. It was a huge relief to reach the water cache. I drank a litre of water in one go, without it even touching the sides. We had phone service here and I tried to make a booking at the Econo Lodge in Lordsbugh for tonight. But the centralised booking service was hopeless. We left without having secured accomodation when we get to town later in the day.

We were pleasantly surprised to meet another Aussie, Caroline who came to water cache as we were leaving. She was the first person we’d seen all day. She is a lawyer from Sydney who discovered hiking 6 years ago, and has embraced it with a passion.

As we left the small shady spot of the cache the wind was gusting very strongly. This prevented us from being able to use an umbrella for shade. So it was exposed and windy hiking all afternoon till we reached Lordsburgh at 6pm.

Despite the wind and the sun a small cloud would occasionally drift covering the sun. It was like nature drawing a huge shade cloth over us. It felt beautiful and was so refreshing while it lasted. Before reaching the road section to Lordsburgh, the trail undulated over numerous small hills.

The exposed rocks looked interesting. It was only after I stopped and picked up a white rock that I realised it was a fossilised coral. Now the neverending undulating desert landscape took on a whole new geological meaning. We were hiking through an ancient sea. How amazing! And now, and not for the first time since we started this hike, the landscape made us feel small and insignificant.

The CDT so far has been mostly well marked but the trail itself is still being formed. There is no formally made trail. Where it exists, it was made by hiker footprints marking a route between posts. In a few places we simply followed a bearing in a particular direction.

Caroline passed us as we were approaching the road to Lordsburgh. She was going to ask the hotel to keep a room for us when she got there. It was very satisfying to arrive in Lordsburgh four days after we left. Two other hikers from our Wednesday shuttle group were in town. The rest are still out there making their way through the desert.

It has been a brutal but beautiful introduction to the CDT. Apart from the unexpected blisters, Hammer feels otherwise good. And I am so grateful that my body has held up to the rigours of the first few days.

It was a relief to get a shower and a clean bed for the night. While Hammer showered, I did our laundry and went to the store to get some cold drinks to enjoy in our air conditioned room. While it was extremely nice, I felt a pang of regret at not being outside to be able to witness a full moon rising for Easter Sunday.