Well, not backwards really, but this year I’m hiking in the opposite direction of my 2007 hike. I left the Mexican border at Antelope Wells on the evening of May 3rd and have been hiking north ever since. It’s been interesting to see the landscape in a different season, and I’m constantly reminded how different my emotions were back then. In 2007, New Mexico was the end of my hike, and each step was closer to completing a 2800 mile walk across the continent. My brain and body had been in hiking mode for 4 months! Now I’m walking the same path, but I’m seeing my surroundings with a fresh perspective and the realization that my journey is just beginning.
The quiet meditation of solitary hiking has been wonderful, and I’m already feeling the stress of urban living melt away. I pop into town every hundred miles or so for food resupply, and am reminded that civilization is a nice place to visit, but I don’t want to dwell there longer than need be. My day starts with the break of dawn, and the chirping of birds is a gentle alarm to nudge me out of sleep. I’ve been sleeping under the stars without my tarp most nights, and I love watching dusk fade to black as the stars make their appearance. Coyote barking in the distance tells me that while my day is done, others are still awake with business to attend to.
Water sources are far and few between, so I must pay close attention to my maps and stay hydrated in this harsh desert environment. The desert flora is beautiful, but everything has defenses to either stab or scratch the unwary traveler. My shoes fill with sand, and lips dry and crack in the arid air. Fierce winds try to snatch the hat off my head, rattlesnakes shake their warning at my approach, and the circling buzzards remind me that my life is of no importance here. My demise, however, would fill a hungry belly and these bones would become more white artifacts amongst the debris of animals who perished out here.