I flew from Boston to Atlanta where I considered sneaking out of the airport back to the AT, but I checked my gear to prevent this from happening. In Atlanta, my hiking partner for most of the Appalachian Trail joined me as we set out on our last flight of the day. Paperweight and I spent the four hours catching up and getting even more eager. We hiked together for almost 1,700 miles and it went well so why not give it another shot. Having someone to talk to, plan with, and share thoughts made me at ease the past few months. Usually, I make myself sick worrying and second guessing everything. I almost quit the AT before I even started. I do not want to feel too comfortable since this trail is going to be so different. Navigation, winter hiking, remote locations, grizzly bears, and the most miles I’ve ever hiked await me. I’m lucky to have a good friend with me so we can support one another.
We landed in Tucson, Arizona and rushed to the baggage claim to grab out gear. I had wrapped my pack up in a huge plastic bag that tore open, but nothing got lost luckily. I recommend using an old suitcase that you can leave behind at the hotel. We rushed out of the door into the heat surrounded by palm trees. Not in Massachusetts anymore! We jumped into a taxi and were jetted across town to the Greyhound station. We did not pre buy our tickets since we weren’t sure if we’d make it. We made it with plenty of time to spare and purchased the last two tickets to Lordsburg, New Mexico. The workers made a big point saying they have never seen so many hikers going to Lordsburg and we are all a little crazy. At the station, we met four thru hikers starting on Wednesday. Feeling at home already. I enjoyed the bus ride looking out the window admiring Arizona for a few miles. The red rocks were beautiful and I hope to do a little hike thru that state someday called the AZT. It was hot when we stepped off the bus in the McDonald’s parking lot in Lordsburg, New Mexico. The CDT passed thru this town so I stepped foot on the trail before I ever saw the monument. On Friday, we will begin our hike at the Southern Terminus on the border then return to Lordsburg in 85 trail miles. We quickly hurried to the Econo Lodge out of the heat and checked into our room. Lots of hikers! It was easy to tell who has already hiked the first 85 miles by the scratches, sunburns, and hiker hobble. We heard stories of broken ribs, sprained ankles, people quitting at the first water cache, nasty blisters, and a person deciding last minute not to even start their hike. What am I getting myself into? The CDT motto is “embrace the brutality!” We spent two full days getting last minute things together, hydrating, eating lots of food, meeting new people, and catching up with old friends as well.