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Monday, March 19, 2007

Down in the Bootheel

As teams are coming together for the early New Mexico push (see March 8 post), a lot of attention is being paid to deserts. No doubt, much of the trail through the state takes in coniferous forests, rolling mountainscapes and even Aspen groves; but we mustn't ignore the blisteringly hot, waterless, mesquite-dotted Chihuahuan desert. The hike isn't for the faint of heart, and it most certainly isn't for July or August. As CDTA guidebook author Bob Julyan explains in New Mexico's Continental Divide Trail:

The terrain is complex, and often very steep; the vegetation, although interesting, is conspicuously hostile to hikers--thorny, prickly, spiny, jagged, sharp, serrated, stabbing--you get the idea. I hiked here with two thru-hikers who wore shorts; blood soon ran down their legs.

To be fair, the landscape doesn't have to be so desolate and hellish as all that. Start out at daybreak, and you may spot some deer browsing in a clumped yucca stand. Or better still, perhaps you'll catch a coatimundi sneaking off with a bag of trail mix (think of it as fox-raccoon hybrid. Arguably worth the trail mix).

Our southern terminus team will be down there during the week of April 23 in an attempt to bypass all that comes with a Southwestern summer. The above picture of the starting point, courtesy of the Forest Service's CDT administrator, may best showcase the lay of the land. And remember: wear long pants.

1 comment:

ajm said...

Good resource for NM water right now. Also notes that the CDT doesn't hit the saddle near Thompson Canyon, but goes to the desert. Of special note, the windmill not-to-be missed in the last 15 miles.