It was still dark out and the air was chilly. After grabbing a quick breakfast, we had already loaded up our packs in the back, so we stood outside next to the Suburban admiring the lift kit and spare tire strapped to the top. We waited quietly as the other hikers were rallied up, and once we were all together we loaded up with seven hikers and Juan, the driver. For the first part of the drive, we rode in silence, a combination of sleepiness and realization of what this ride represented. The second thru-hike for some, the third of others, and the first for one. The silence was colored with a thousand different emotions, and so we sat there quietly. Well, until Juan asked us why we were being so quietly, then the small talk started.
The sun was rising over the distant mountains, and it was the brightest of oranges giving no chance for any other color in the sky. Juan took a turn off of the main highway onto a dirt and rock road. This was the beginning of a very rough ride into the backcountry of New Mexico. We drove along roads that barely could be considered roads snaking through the desert below the Big Hatchet Mountain range. Finally, we arrived at the border and Crazy Cook monument. Photos were taken, fun was had, and we even went thirty-five feet into Mexico, apparently the legal distance. We scurried back across, Juan left, the others started hiking and there we were.
So we started walking along the "trail". Our first goal for the day was to get 14 miles in to the first water cache. Since we started so late in the morning it was already hot, and we knew it was just going to get hotter. We hiked our way down into a wash which seems like a joke on such a hot, dry day.
Shade does not come easy out here. We walked a bit before finally finding a chunk of shade. We throw our packs off and start taking off our shoes when the buzz a couple wasps caught our attention. Two wasps were not enough to get us to move so we keep gearing up for lunch when more wasps showed up at the scene. Next thing we know there were 30, maybe 40, safe to say a swarm of wasps surrounded us. That was enough to get us to move, so we did. No shade. No shade. Shade! We found some more but the wasps were back. We ended up packing up things and continues walking into the hottest time of the day.
A couple of miles later we did end up finding some shade, and we took a quick nap and break from the sun. Fueled up we started to work our way towards the cache. By the time we reached the water, we had gone through most of our 6 liters of water we had packed in town. Our bags were sure lighter but after the cache we were back up to 6 liters. We walked back up to the trail and began an ascent which would lead us to the rolling skirt of Big Hatchet the next day.
For now, a couple more miles and camp were our only goals. We were able to find a flat square tucked away in the scrub brush, set up camp, and started to make dinner. Our view was spectacular with the desert plains below us and the mountains behind us. The desert looked so innocence from up there. We would understand it's true brutality the following day. Sleep came easily but did not last. The full moon left us with light flooding into our tent like truck headlights.
Nature shows no mercy, but if that bothered us, we would not be out here.
Cheers to the trail and all the crazy trailing thoughts.
Garbelly and M.E.