Total Miles: 2369.4
August may not be an enjoyable time to find yourself in the desert, but November certainly is. Rather than boiling the water in our water bottles, the temperature topped out in the mid-seventies yet again. Combined with an unrelenting sun, it’s enough to remind you of where you are without forcing you to wring your shirt of sweat every hour. Rather than an oven set to broil, think more of an oven cooling down after the cake has already been baked.
Beyond a small series of hills, a gradual and lengthy descent pointed in the direction of a collection of distant objects, shimmering under the afternoon across the sweeping floor of the desert. The closest thing to shade from here on out was the occasional wispy shrubs perhaps four feet high, and—if you didn’t mind standing sideways behind them—the power line poles that radiated out from a nearby substation.
As we drew nearer to the lowest elevation we’ve seen on the entire trail thus far—a lowly 4,300 feet—black-tailed jackrabbits bolted with astounding speed whenever we came close enough to startle them. And somewhere amid that late afternoon sun, we crossed a milestone without any marker to commemorate it: there were now less than 100 miles between us and the southern terminus tucked into New Mexico’s boot heel.
Those nondescript shimmering blocks an hour earlier began to resolve into the shapes of buildings under a setting sun that was truly dazzling. Mountain silhouettes, ethereal clouds painted in oranges and pinks, and a desert floor awash with golden light and streaked with elongated shadows.
Taking it all in while the lights of Lordsburg blinked to life, I looked back in the direction we’d come from and thought not of the shrinking miles in front of us, but of the journey that lie ahead for a hiker traveling in the opposite direction. For the northbounders—like our friend Steel in 2018—leaving Lordsburg would be leaving the first way station on the trail rather than the last, and walking away under a sky so full of possibility like the one above us now must only ignite an excited anticipation for all of the unknown adventure that lies ahead. And almost impossibly far into that future, sits only the faintest dream of what lies at the very end: Canada.
With so much flip-flopping around the trail, much of that simplicity—of starting from one border and walking continuously to the other—has been lost from our CDT thru-hike. But with nearly all of the trail’s length now behind us, what began as our own distant dream is beginning to grow from an idea to a reality: Mexico.