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Home » Adventures » CDT » Journal » New Mexico » Big Hatchet Mt.

CDT: Big Hatchet Mountain (Lordsburg to Mexican border)

October 26

Another slow, lazy day across less than interesting land. In the morning a few mountains decorated the landscape, but by the afternoon I walked across entirely flat ground. The wind, uncharacteristically from the east, blew strong all day, a deafening force hitting me in the face. The terrain ranged from jeep tracks, to uneven rocks, to flat, hard dirt, to prickly plants.

I ended up cowboy camping (this time much more careful with my new headlamp) because the flat land and low brush did not provide any shelter to block the wind from assaulting my tent all night.

The CDT signs marking the cross country route through the desert
Pyramid Peak
The barren nothingness of southern New Mexico
Desert sunset

October 27

None of my gear disappeared overnight, although some unexpected dew arrived. I continued my crawl to the border and the end of the CDT. I spent almost the entire day going cross country, wandering from one sparsely placed CDT marker to another, almost all of which were oriented for NOBOs.

New Mexico as a whole had been a lot more enjoyable than expected. I anticipated most of the state to be a flat road walk, and while there was some of that, there also had been a lot of interesting variety — forests, mesas, mountains, canyons, and rivers to name a few. Even in this last stretch — although much of it was flat — mountains still consistently rose around me.

Coyote Hills
Would you drink the water from this tire?
Lonely jeep tracks

October 28

My penultimate full day on the trail consisted mostly of dragging my tired legs along 4WD tracks — with some cross country stretches thrown in for good measure — watching Big Hatchet Mountain grow ever so slowly bigger. I eventually reached its base and started the slow cross country traverse around it, crawling up and down many arroyos.

I had been following footsteps for the past couple days, and did not know whose they were. They had to belong to a CDT hiker though, as no one else would be walking out here. The only other hikers I knew of had already finished or were far behind me. At a trail register near the end I finally found out they belonged to Giraffe — who I never met, but recently passed me.

I must have been getting near the border, as of the few radio stations I could receive, most of them were in Spanish and possibly not broadcast from the U.S. side either.

Big Hatchet Peak in the distance

October 29 — Big Hatchet Mountain

For my penultimate day on the trail I had the option of a very easy day (I could have even reached Crazy Cook without too much trouble, but did not have a ride scheduled until tomorrow) or have one last big climbing hurrah to the top of Big Hatchet Mountain. I naturally chose the latter.

After a couple mile approach on an access road, I started a cross country bushwhack to the top. I did not have good intel on what route to take, so I picked one that looked decent from my position and what my topo map indicated. My route choosing abilities needed work though, as my route quickly became a steep boondoggle through thorny plants. I continued bulk headed through this terrain anyway, even as it became steeper and I was basically scaling rocks, needing to use my hands throughout the scramble. I eventually reached an impassable spot and had to descend to traverse around it, when I noticed tread across a reentrant. I headed towards it and discovered a very decent path. Too bad I did not know about this tread earlier.

I followed this trail, which unfortunately ended at the top of the valley. From there the cross country route to the peak was slightly easier than earlier, but still had its share of climbs, rocks, and prickly plants. I finally reached the summit, with its military communication gear, but also an amazing view. Big Hatchet Mountain was an isolated formation, and the terrain dropped away quickly, providing expansive views of the surrounding area. I really had to work for it, but the top was quite the sight.

The descent was easier, but still took a long time. At least when I got back to the trail I was able to follow it all the way back to the road. I had run out of water before even reaching the summit though, so I was quite thirsty on the way down. I still had a couple miles on the flats before finally reaching the water cache, where I chugged copious amounts of the liquid gold and gave thanks for the cache. Since Silvery City— almost 200 miles ago — I had only passed one natural water source — and even that was an improved spring. All my other hydration has been from cattle wells or water caches. Hiking the CDT without those would not be practical.

Unfortunately climbing up and down Big Hatchet Mountain took much longer than expected, so I hiked late to be able to reach my taxi appointment with Sam Hues tomorrow at noon. I would also have an early morning to finish these last miles of the CDT and not be late.

The view from atop Big Hatchet Mountain
A water cache maintained by Sam Hues. The only water in the area.

October 30

My sleeping pad decided to spring a leak. If air had to seep out though, my last night on the trail was good timing. Nevertheless the ¾″ of air was much missed. Its lack made getting up easier though, as I needed to do so still under the cover of moonlight to reach Crazy Cook on time. My last day on the CDT was mostly more ATV trails heading out of the mountains. For good measure through, the last two miles were cross country.

After surviving 2,700 miles I managed to rip my pants literally on the last barbed wire fence I crossed. Almost half a mile from the end I passed a border patrol agent (the only other people out here) who gave me no trouble at all (of course they would never profile, but I guess a thru hikers were petty obvious in appearance. Plus I was headed towards Mexico). He was the entire entourage congratulating me on my completed hike.

This though, brought me to Crazy Cook Monument, the very unceremonious end to a SOBO CDT hike. The small cement obelisk was in the middle of nowhere, with no interesting human or geographic features around. A small wire fence marked the border with Mexico just a few feet away. Sam Hues waited for me there though, to give me a ride back into civilization. Besides his shuttles, the only other way out would be a day trek back to the paved road for a long hitch on a lonely highway. Even with my taxi, the ride out to Deming still took several hours over bone shaking roads and long stretches of highway. There I got a hotel room, bite to eat, showered, and relaxed.

So the CDT was complete (except for that little stretch in Glacier). The end was not overly emotional, or even provoked much feeling at all. There was no fanfare or cheering crowds at the finish line. You just walk up, grab a photo, and try to reintegrate into a society that for the most part does not know thru-hiking exists. Of course, that was one of the appeals of the CDT for me.

The last of many cows I saw on the CDT. How much I will miss them and their pies.
More barren nothingness
Myself at Crazy Cook, and the end of my four and half month CDT hike!

October 31 and Following

I originally intended to cross over into Mexico to celebrate my completion of the CDT, but not having a reliable bus schedule, and realizing I would basically just be going into Palomas for lunch before returning, led me to be lazy and lounge around my hotel room in Deming instead. I ate a lot and did laundry, but mostly just kept my feet up and did my part to be a good guest by not having the police called.

Two days after I reached Crazy Cook, I was walking around Deming on my way to the “train station” when as always seemed to happen, by chance I met Transient in town. This was the first since I had seen him way back in Breckenridge. He had finished the CDT the day prior and rode into town that morning. We had lunch and said our goodbyes before I caught the Amtrak train back to Chicago. The ride was a relaxing way to slowly merge back into society, and after the train covered nearly as miles in two days as I had hiked all summer, left me exactly where I started this trip, at Union Station in Chicago.

Boarding Amtrak for the two day ride back to Chicago. The “train station” in Deming is just a railroad crossing.
The Chicago skyline, making a full circle to return home