The US/Mexico Border Daily

SECTION Five: Douglas TO Columbus



Day 53

17 miles


Kris dropped us off again in the morning and we started east.

Can we see our next state (New Mexico) in the distance?

After being stuck in the San Pedro Valley for so long, hiking non-consecutive sections, it felt good to be moving in a straight line again. We started out on a jogging trail with a couple other people but a couple miles out of town we were on our own again aside from the occasional car. We had recovered from our frustration from yesterday and joked about how Border Patrol probably heard every word of our fight. Months, years from now our heated conversation would be an example of funny shit that hidden recorders pick up. Ugh!




It was the beginning of ranching country, and we passed the Rocker M. Ranch and Derrick Manson ranch in the morning. Both had signs posted in front detailing how to access public land through their property and a list of twenty rules and regulations. These two are the first of many ranches between Douglas and New Mexico’s bootheel. We’re most worried about the 320,000 acre chunk of land owned by the Animas Foundation. As we mentioned yesterday we finally got in touch with someone from the organization only to be told that we couldn’t cross their property, even on the road. It’s especially bizarre because they’re supposedly a conservation organization and we’ve found studies they’ve done with other environmental organizations.

Don't hikers and environmentalists usually get along great? 

We’re not the only ones though; the Animas Foundation sits right on top of the Continental Divide, a big attraction for cyclists and hikers, and there seems to be a history of bad blood. Oh well. Guess we’ll have to hike much farther north than anticipated.


By midday we were out in the middle of nowhere. The fence in the distance was back to a low barricade barely discernible against the desert backdrop. As we eyed the expanse we saw what looked like a semi truck floating in the horizon, moving at least 60 mph. Then another and another! We were baffled by the sight and had no idea where they were coming from. Eventually it dawned on us that we were looking at Highway 2 in Mexico. Hwy 2 parallels our border in several locations, but to see it in the middle of absolute nowhere is a bit of a surprise!


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We stopped at the intersection of Geronimo Road and the southernmost route we could continue east on. Here there was a sign to Slaughter Ranch Museum and an obelisk honoring a Mormon Battalion. Our break was short and we were soon on our way through the evening light.

It’s come to our attention that we need inject a bit more silliness in our hiking so Claire stepped up to the plate to provide some dramatic renditions of popular songs from her middle school years. Whachya got Claire?

Usually Claire doesn’t have much patience for when Tenny tries to sing so Tenny made sure to keep track of each minute. Ten minutes of Claire singing meant ten minutes Tenny will be singing later! The only other creatures to hear were some cows (and, unfortunately for them, maybe some Border Patrol hidden mics). One little black calf was in the middle of braving a road crossing and he froze at the sound of our approach. His hair was all frazzled and his ears were flattened, his legs splayed and both eyes were cocked sideways. He confirmed that our songs were rough to the ear.


Kris had great enthusiasm when found us at the end of the day and lots of new information about our upcoming section. He had called a couple county officials while we were hiking and gotten some updates on which roads had public access in Hidalgo County, New Mexico. This info will be helpful in formulating our new plan. He also followed up on some questions we’d all had the other day about the Gadsden Purchase and how New Mexico became part of the US. The US originally wanted to purchase an area of land all the way down to Baja. Mexico didn't agree to this and the US settled for a chunk that would include the Camino Del Diablo. The Camino was the historical route we passed through in early AZ and apparently it was a mandatory part of what the States wanted, solely based on its historical significance!