Finally in Lordsburg, ready to go!
After a rough night in the hotel where I woke up every 30 minutes thinking I was running late, I both successfully got on the shuttle bus and convinced the driver to make a detour and drop me off at the Greyhound station. As soon as I arrived I saw two other obvious thru-hikers getting out of another vehicle. Turns out they are Shady and Gunga Din, two repeat hikers who have done a number of other trips including the AT.
Shady did the PCT in 2019, the year of all the snow, which included a 30-day stretch where she wore actual crampons while traversing the Sierra. When I introduced myself, she said my name sounded familiar. Turns out she read the Trek to prepare for her PCT trip, and had read my articles. She said “I remember them being really funny”. I hope they were also helpful. They’re good kids. It’s sobering to think that I hiked the AT before Gunga Din was born. “You’re older than my dad”, he added unhelpfully.
Shady, Gunga Din, and I had a good chat on the ride here about why people enjoy thru-hiking. One of the things that came out of it is that you really don’t need a lot in life. Being on your own with just enough stuff to keep you going towards your goal is a great way to mentally reset yourself. It definitely carries over into real life.
The bus from Phoenix to Lordsburg was the local, which means it did not take Interstate 10 but rather some back roads that connected a bunch of small towns. Most of them were little Beat affairs consisting mostly of peeling paint, rusted metal and Sun-flattened houses. Now and then we would pass a town that had a mining company or farms to keep it alive. Lordsburg is also pretty beat up, abandoned houses, broken down cars behind rusted fences, and nothing much green. The pickup trucks, however, are very fancy.
The town has a very cool post office where I got my mail drop with my trekking poles and tent stakes. Things which were too risky to bring on an airplane. When I asked if it was busy this year, they told me that the last two years were pretty quiet because of COVID. But this year is definitely busier than most. I hit the grocery store and walked around town, questing for sunscreen. In the end I settled on a heavy spray bottle but it’s better than nothing.
So far I have seen about 20 hikers, 6 were in the process of leaving, even at 4pm. About 1/3 of the hikers are women, and I heard 1 foreign accent, but otherwise it’s the usual lanky white guy scene.
The Desert is not Rhode Island
I went to this local American-style food restaurant because while there is a Mexican place I think it is a glorified Taco Bell. What I’ve discovered about the Southwest is that even if it does not say that there is meat in something there probably is. Because New Mexico, they had “mexican food”, so I ordered the enchiladas “especial” which had green chile stew on it. Here, that consist of mostly large chunks of pork. But they were cool about it and comped my desert, a massive cinnamon roll. That will be my treat tomorrow. I don’t think it is at the same level as the Stehekin Bakery, but it looks legit. I also ordered a chocolate milkshake. It was the kind that they mix using that countertop blender and serve with the sidecar. More than made up for the pork.
One of the advantages of being in the Desert Southwest is Limon Pepino Gatorade. Do not knock it until you have tried it. Unless you live here, you won’t be able to try it, because I have looked and not found it anywhere else. I bought two of these to enjoy tomorrow ceremonially.
It’s not very hot here today. Perhaps low 80s and there’s some high haze. Most of the day the sky was that metallic grey-blue color that the desert gets when the dust starts to really get up there. Being down here is also messing with my internal clock. The sun is at the wrong angle for the time of day, so what feels like it should be lunch is actually much later. Part of that is the time zone difference but there’s definitely something unsettling about the angle of the Sun. There’s a Sinister flatness to everything as if the weight of the Sun itself is crushing everything into the ground.
I’m at the Motel 6 because the traditional hiker Hotel of at the Econo Lodge is for sale so I thought it would be crappy. Instead this place is crappy. Your standard off the highway cheap hotel type place. But it has air conditioning and a bed and a shower, which is really all you need.
Tomorrow I have to walk back under the interstate and meet my shuttle at 6 a.m. After that will be a 3 plus hour truck ride down mostly dirt roads to the border and the Crazy Cook Monument.
The Road goes ever on and on
Down from the door where it began.
Now far ahead the Road has gone,
And I must follow, if I can,
Pursuing it with eager feet,
Until it joins some larger way
Where many paths and errands meet.
And whither then? I cannot say.