Section 6: Columbus to El Paso
The temperature steadily dropped throughout the night leaving us increasingly wakeful and hovering on the edge of uncomfortable. Everything was frozen solid in the morning, including Claire’s contacts. We loved having Zak and Cory with us and we procrastinated as long as possible to keep them.
Cory biked back to the car while we packed up and tried to fit all of Tenny’s stuff in the fancy new (free?) pack Cory had offered to let her have.
Her trustworthy pack was destroyed after six years of overuse, the frame completely collapsed and she was definitely in the market for a new one. Perfect timing. Plus, he used this bag trekking in Nepal and it even came with a rock from Everest! It was a bit of a stretch to fit everything but Tenny made it happen and she walked off with a snazzy new backpack. Apparently it was Christmas morning because Zak also gave us the recorder he’d used to interview us (hopefully our voices are deleted). It’s exactly what we need to help keep better notes out here!
When Cory returned with the car we finished separating all of our stuff and got in so that Zak could help with a water drop. We stashed a couple water bottles about 18 miles up the road so we didn’t have to carry them. This would have been a tough section without the drop so thank you Zak and Cory! We drove back to Cory and the backpacks, took some pictures, and said our goodbyes. Oh the depression that comes when friends and the enthusiasm they bring ends. There's something particularly brutal about being left on the side of the road knowing you’ve gotta get walking and we were seriously bummed to be alone again. Zak and Corey, we’ll miss having you with us and thank you so much for getting us through another day!
Between shuttles, water drops and an hour or so of feeling sorry for ourselves we blew through most of the morning. The hiking in this section isn’t particularly interesting and we were both focused on El Paso and what comes after, not on this final remote stretch of New Mexico. The thought of Texas, and the prep we’ll have to do to get ready is a major stressor, and we spent most of the day trapped in our own anxious thoughts. Occasionally we would chat about this or that but everything felt like a potential minefield, with hidden and dangerous undercurrents of tension. Luckily we were wise enough to each other’s moods that we were able to pull back at the last second and avoid transforming the stress we’re feeling into anything uglier.
We were trying to stay off the highway but we didn’t want to camp too close to the border so we’ve basically been zigzagging back and forth all day. By late afternoon we knew it was time to angle north, even though we hadn’t reached our goal for the day. We were feeling pretty good about the area and hadn’t seen any footprints or signs of traffic for a couple days now. That empty, no people feeling has become comforting and we found a cozy little spot out of sight of the road to camp. It felt like another cold night was on the way and we wasted no time in getting to work warming up our sleeping bags with our body heat!