Wednesday, June 15, 2016
Day 1: Crazy Cook to Mile 15.6
Big brother is watching you.
A long green stripe down the side of the white pickup confirmed what we already knew: Border Patrol. Even before we left Lordsburg we were advised to call Border Patrol to report that we were heading for Crazy Cook to save them the time and resources needed to monitor our movements. But they are out in force and watching us anyway.
Only one other hiker, "Stilts", had started the trail this month. It is easy to see why. The desert is hot and water is scarce. Most of the seasonal sources used by typical thru-hikers, who start in April or early May, are drying up. We cached water on our drive down to the border. Without these water stores, carrying the water necessary to complete this section in June would be impracticable.
The route to Crazy Cook is a long, slow, and bumpy drive along a 4WD road. There are no services along the way and, for the most part, no other vehicles, unless you count the one abandoned in the middle of a washed out section of road. Relief flooded us when we finally reached the border monument. After a few quick photos, we headed down the trail. We had been advised not to linger at the border.
Our route passes through Chihuahuan Desert along the base of the limestone cliffs of the Big Hatchet Mountains. Flowering ocotillo, prickly pear, and cholla brighten the path. Emaciated black tailed jackrabbits and cottontails bound across the trail and out of sight, living testaments to the harsh realities of desert life.
Junipers, scrub oaks, and other small trees populate the rocky washes providing shady relief from the oppressive sun. Dry now, these washes will be angry rivers, swollen with flash flood waters, during the summer monsoon season.
We hike into the cool of the evening before finding a rocky patch of ground on which to pitch our tent. The last light of day disappears behind the Big Hatchet Mountains to our west as we gaze across the seemingly endless desert basin to more distant mountains in Mexico.
Posted by Heather and Sierra at 8:11 PM