Following his defeat to John F. Kennedy in the 1960 U.S. presidential election, Richard Nixon held a news conference. He signaled he was leaving politics for good by famously telling the press, "You won’t have Nixon to kick around anymore."
Nixon was at least as unprophetic as I was when I finished my PCT thru-hike and said to my wife, "Don't ever let me do something like that again."
Now, after sitting at home for much of the last year because of the COVID-19 pandemic, I was ready to get back on a long trail. Like Nixon once again, I was "tan, rested, and ready."
Well, maybe not so tan, but at least I was ready to go to New Mexico and begin an attempt to thru-hike the Continental Divide Trail.
|Date||Sunday, April 11, 2021|
|Weather||Partly cloudy sky with a high temperature in the low-90s in Tucson|
The start of my trip to New Mexico got off a little rocky. We weren't more than a block away from home when Kim asked if I had brought my sunglasses. We had to turn around.
Then when I arrived at the airport, the TSA agent didn’t like my driver’s license. It was a temporary paper copy, given to me a few days ago by the State of Tennessee when I renewed it. After being escorted through the line and given a "freedom frisk," I was allowed to continue to my gate.
I met Zigzag there, and we boarded our very early morning flight to Dallas. From there, we flew to Tucson.
Zigzag’s baggage didn’t arrive in Tucson, but we learned it was on the next plane from Dallas, so we ate lunch at the airport. Soon after we were finished, his bag arrived.
We elected to stay at a downtown hotel in Tucson because it was a short walk to Tucson's train station. That's where we went the next morning to board a train to Lordsburg, New Mexico.
|Date||Monday, April 12, 2021|
|Weather||Clear sky with temperatures from the upper-50s to mid-80s in Lordsburg|
There were several options for getting to Lordsburg. We considered flying to Tucson or El Paso, then taking a bus or train to Lordsburg. The costs were similar.
Choosing to fly to Tucson and take the train from there looked like the best way to go. This route allowed us a better margin for error if we had a travel delay.
By the time we boarded the train for an 8:30 departure, we had already met several hikers.
Two of the hikers were attempting to complete the Triple Crown, as I was. Mona Lisa completed the AT and PCT in the same years I did. Baguette also finished the PCT 2019. She hiked the AT in 2018.
One hiker was someone I already knew. Thirteen and I met briefly at Kinsman Notch on the AT. Later, I saw her again at Madison Spring Hut. We had a good laugh about those meetings, especially because of what happened at the hut.
She arrived there before my hiking partner Stick and I did and asked if she could do a work-for-stay. The croo members said no. When Stick and I walked in later, the first thing the croo said was, "Do you want to work-for-stay?" As it turned out, my friend Tengo Hambre had the same thing happen to him that same day.
These incidents weren't mentioned in my post about that day because I didn't learn of them until much later.
The three-hour train trip was comfortable, and it was fun to be with other hikers. We sat together and traded stories about past hikes.
During the trip, I received a text message from Two Chairz, a hiker I met during my first week on the AT. I was dismayed to learn he now lived in Tucson. Had I known this a day earlier, we could have met for dinner.
The train arrived in Lordsburg 45 minutes late, but that was no problem for us. As I said, we intentionally planned our trip to handle delays easier.
While Zigzag, Baguette, and I were walking through town, I received a text message from Doggone. He had reached out to me a few weeks ago through Facebook when he learned I was starting the trail on the same day.
His wife planned to follow him on the trail with their two dogs. They owned a teardrop travel trailer and were camped tonight at a nearby campground. We agreed to meet for lunch after Zigzag and I checked into our motel.
Baguette, Zigzag, and I stopped first at the post office. I mailed home the duffel bag I used to carry my backpack on the plane, plus the street clothes I wore yesterday.
We arrived at the Comfort Inn at 2:30 p.m., then walked next door to McDonald's to meet Doggone and his wife. I learned her trail name was Taxilady, a name she earned while he hiked the AT last year. She also followed him for part of that hike, and in doing so helped a lot of other hikers. They said she planned to do that again on this hike.
After lunch, Zigzag and I walked to Lordsburg's only grocery store, Saucedo's. He bought food for our first five days on the trail. I didn't need anything because I had shipped a box of food to the motel and picked it up when we arrived.
I was amused to see an S&H Green Stamps sign hanging outside the store. Those trading stamps haven't been in wide circulation for more than 30 years. Unsurprisingly, Zigzag wasn't given any stamps with his purchase.
The day ended with dinner at Kranberry's Chatterbox, the only restaurant in town that wasn't fast food or a dive. Doggone, Taxilady, and Baguette joined us.
The two days of travel had gone as smoothly as I had hoped, with only a few minor bumps along the way. What I hadn't expected was the best part of this journey so far. That was meeting so many hikers who shared several of the same experiences I had.
Tomorrow begins the reason we're all here. We will go to the Mexican border and begin our long walk to Canada.
Pack my bag and let's get movin'
'Cause I'm bound to drift a while
When I'm gone, gone
You don't have to worry long
Long as I can see the light
"Nothing to tell now. Let the words be yours, I'm done with mine."ref.