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Friday, April 27, 2012

Silver City to Doc Campbells

I arranged a ride out of Silver City to Emory pass outside the Aldo Leopold Wilderness. I worked a summer in the Gila wilderness and always wanted to see it's neighbor, named for an often overlooked person in the wilderness movement, Aldo Leopold.
I headed up to the fire lookout which had great views. The lookout had just started there and had his dog Grace. It's always nice to stop by and say hi.
From there I followed a route that I had planned on my GPS, but it turned into an unmaintained trail and I ended up getting lost on a ridgetop. After a lot of effort, I found myself back on a trail and on the map.
The Aldo was great, the mountains are a lot steeper. I stopped by the high elevation Mimbres Lake, then followed the river south.
I had to hitch around to Doc Campbells to get my resupply of food and meet back up with Greg to hike the middle fork of the Gila.

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Monday, April 23, 2012

U.S. Border to Silver City

April 15th I headed to the U.S./Mexico border to begin my summer of hiking. I began a long the Continental Divide Trail, heading north. To be clear I'm not officially thru hiking the trail from end to end, but using it as a source of inspiration for a summer of hiking.
I posted on a web forum my plans for hiking and heard back from a guy, Greg, looking for a ride to the border. My Dad had already agreed to take me, so it was easy to take another. Little did we know how much we'd have in common. We'll be hiking together for awhile.

We took pictures at the border and got a helicopter fly over from Border Patrol and then headed off into the desert. We followed roads and stopped by the first water source which looked a little green. Thankfully there was water in the cache box a mile away.
Spring was beginning in those parts of the world and different cactus were almost blooming.
The trail follows old roads across the mountains, and occasionally goes cross country with a sign every 1/4 mile or so. Without an established track, the walking is tough and occasionally you miss a sign and end up off course. Out of the first 8 days, there was only 1 we didn't need our GPS to find the trail, and that was the last day all on well developed roads. It's true no two people hike the same CDT, we all get lost in different places.
It was also hot out. A little warmer then I was expecting. Every afternoon we took a siesta in what shade we could find, often the shadow of an information board. One of these stops was near a road with a car every 15 minutes. We had one Border Patrol person stop to chat who knew what we were up to. Then an hour later another BP truck pulls up more aggressively asking our country of origin and to see our IDs. Apparently a rancher driving by saw us and thought we were illegals that had given up.
After 5 days we reached Lordsburg and I-10. We stayed in a motel and cleaned up. The next morning we were on the road out of town over another mountain range. I led us up the wrong draw, but we managed to connect it into the trail without backtracking.
It wasn't till our seventh day that we saw our first real single track hiking trail, it was unique. Our 8th day was walking on roads 17 miles into Silver City. I describe it as a Western Mining Border Hippie Town. It's an amalgamation of people. We took a day off in town to rest and recover, as well as get mail drops ready for supplies for the next two weeks.
Here is the map of where I checked in with my SPOT.

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Sunday, April 1, 2012

0 - Owyhee Plains

For a shakedown hike, I headed to the Southern Idaho, Owyhee Plains. The Idaho Centennial Trail starts at the border of Idaho and Nevada and heads north.
Mallory and I drove down Saturday setting out water drops along the way for my to stop at later. We camped the night just past Murphy Hot Springs, on the Bruneau River. Murphy hot springs was a bit of a let down. At one time it was a developed spring with a pool, but it has fallen into disrepair and the community looks like isolationists avoiding the govment'.
Sunday we hiked the two miles down to the border and the trail monument.
Then back at the car, I grabbed my backpack and started hiking down the trail. I started off great. The road I was hiking on was pretty easy and it was sunny. As the day went on the wind picked up and the clouds drew close.
I was concerned that the 30% chance of rain forecasted for Monday, might be coming in a little early. I ended up hiking much further then I intended and ended up covering 29 miles the first day. I had made it to the shelter of a ravine and my first water drop.
I woke the next morning to snow starting to come down and was glad I was somewhat protected with water. As the snow came down, I decided to stay there for the day resting my tired body from the long day before. The skies cleared up in the afternoon.
Overnight it was clear and still. I woke up and my water was partially frozen. I packed up camp and headed out on the road. The roads were much rougher with cow prints in the dirt and my legs had not fully recovered. After the first 8 miles took me 5 hours, I decided that I shouldn't keep going. It was going to be to hard to get to my next water source and heading onward would just lead to injury. I hit the button on my SPOT to have Mallory come meet me on the road and pick me up.

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For future people attempting the Idaho Centennial Trail, I'd recommend finding a river service to float the Bruneau River instead, I think it would be much more scenic and interesting. On the plus side, aside from my legs and feet, all of my gear worked great. Once my body is healed I'll be ready to go.