CDT 2013 NM Gear List

Agatha Clay: People keep giving me rings, but I think a small death ray might be more practical.
— “Agatha Heterodyne and the Clockwork Princess”, by Phil and Kaja Foglio


. Category Item Notes Weight in grams Weight in oz
. worn/carried
. camp shirt SmartWool Microweight long sleeve crew 171 6.0
. pants RailRiders Eco-Mesh Pant 310 10.9
. trailrunner shoes Merrell Moab Ventilator 992 35.0
. hiking gaiters Dirty Girl 34 1.2
. insole inserts green SuperFeet 106 3.7
. hiking socks REI mid-calf merino 91 3.2
. knee brace Cho-Pat Dual Action Knee Strap
. bandana AT logo cotton/poly bandana 30 1.1
. trekking poles Black Diamond Ultra Distance Z-pole with carbide tips minus straps 263 9.3
. sun glasses 20 0.7
. hat Outdoor Research Helios sun hat 79 2.8
. Total worn/carried 2096 73.9
. pounds: 4.6
. pack pack Zpacks Arc Blast backpack 440 15.5
. pack liner trash compactor bag 60 2.1
. cell phone holder Zpacks cuben fiber shoulder pouch 8 0.3
. phone Android phone: Defy XT 557 (camera, GPS, etc) 109 3.8
. Cook/water water bottles 2x 2 liter soda bottles 106 3.7
. even more water 2x 1 liter Platypus 57 2.0
. cook stove Caldera system with alcohol stove in plastic cannister 133 4.7
. fuel bottle labeled 12oz soda bottle for methanol 22 0.8
. butane lighter Scripto Tiny Lite 12 0.4
. cook pot 0.5Liter Evernew Titanium mug-pot with lid 74 2.6
. pot cozy homemade with Reflectix 25 0.9
. spoon lexan 9 0.3
. water purifier Sawyer Squeeze 81 2.9
. water purification backup repackaged Potable Aqua tablets 10 0.4
. food bag ZPacks Roll Top Blast 40 1.4
. rope ZPacks 1.5 mm Z-Line Cord 21 0.7
. Shelter tarp/tent ZPacks Hexamid solo tent w/screen 269 9.5
. tent stakes 6 Tite Lite titanium stakes 37 1.3
. tent stakes 1 titanium V Stake 9 0.3
. Sleeping sleeping bag Western Mountaineering SummerLite 32F 571 20.1
. sleeping bag liner Cocoon silk Mummy Liner 115 4.1
. sleeping pad Gossamer Gear NightLight_Torso 101 3.6
. ground cloth Polycryo medium size 42 1.5
. Clothes camp shirt Icebreaker merino short sleeve 142 5.0
. camp shorts GoLite men’s nylon shorts 132 4.7
. warm top Western Mountaineering down vest 125 4.4
. warm hat LLBean Trail Model fleece hat 36 1.3
. rain jacket GoLite Malpais Trinity 217 7.7
. wind shirt Montbell Tachyon anorak 63 2.2
. fleece gloves LLBean Polartec Liner Gloves 38 1.3
. compression socks Truform calf length medium compression 42 1.5
. spare socks SmartWool mid-calf merino 91 3.2
. Misc head net “Sea to Summit” mosquito net, doubles as clothes bag 23 0.8
. first aid kit band-aids, molefoam, aspirin, loperamide, sudafed, super glue, … 61 2.2
. sewing kit home assembled 20 0.7
. tooth care dehydrated dots of toothpaste, toothbrush with trimmed handle, gum brush, floss 17 0.6
. soap Dr Bonner liquid in 0.5oz dropper bottle 24 0.8
. moist-wipes 8 wipes in zip bag 75 2.6
. toiletry bag no-see-um mesh bag 5″x6″ 4 0.1
. magnifying glass credit card size fresnel lens 2 0.1
. wallet with id all-Ett sport sailcloth wallet (5g) plus cards 30 1.1
. repair kit duct tape, foil tape, sealer, etc 25 0.9
. backup fire starter Spark-Lite + 3 tinder wads 6 0.2
. pen ballpoint refill cartridge + spare 1 0.0
. flashlight Petzl e+Lite 27 1.0
. backup compass Suunto Clipper compass 4 0.1
. maps Ley maps, double-sided 8.5×11, current trail section 55 1.9
. solar charger Instapark M4S 4W folding solar panel with built-in 2,000 mAh battery pack 220 7.8
. usb charger for phone and battery pack, Apple travel charger 23 0.8
. usb cable 9inch microUSB cable 13 0.5
. recharger pack mophie juice pack powerstation 4000mAh 128 4.5
. headphone earbud, not inside-ear 5 0.2
. itinerary+guide only carry pages needed for that week 10 0.4
. insect repellent 100% DEET repackaged in 0.5oz dropper bottle 23 0.8
. sun screen liquid, repacked in 0.5oz dropper bottle 24 0.8
. toilet paper partial roll, remove cardboard tube, in zip bag 20 0.7
. knife Victoronix Swiss Army Classic 18 0.6
. accessory bag no-see-um mesh bag 7″x9″ 8 0.3
. Total base weight 4103 144.7
. pounds: 9.0

Differences with the Appalachian Trail list:

  • Water is scarce, with 20 miles to next reliable water source not uncommon in southern New Mexico, so a different pack capable of comfortably carrying 5 or 6 liters of water (over 10 pounds) a long distance is needed.
  • The extra water is heavy, so my frameless Mariposa pack will not do.
  • Available water is often turbid, which limits performance of UV water treatment. One of the new lightweight squeeze filters is used this trip.
  • The CDT is often cold, with big drops in nighttime temperatures, so a warmer sleeping bag, sleeping pad, and clothing are desirable.
  • With higher elevation and no “green tunnel”, sun exposure is greater. I decided to hike in long sleeve clothes, sun hat, and sunglasses. And a wide-brimmed hat is not sufficient to protect my face when hiking all day, so more sun screen is used.
  • Fewer trail towns mean I need a better charging solution for cell phone(gps/camera/mp3 player/ebook reader/journal/audio recorder) and I tried a folding solar panel mounted on top of my pack.
  • An electronic trail journal is now used in place of paper. I needed a better onscreen keyboard to get my typing rate up to an acceptable level. MessagEase is a free substitute keyboard that works for me, but has a really steep learning curve, so I needed to drill on the MessagEase Game every day from January to April before my trip. I might write about other phone apps useful for hiking in another post.

Equipment Experience

The light-weight merino long sleeve shirt worked fine as a camp shirt on the AT, but started wearing out when used as daytime clothing, especially under the pack straps. No amount of sewing kit repair could keep the shirt together by the final days of the trip.
Shirt not holding together

One week I was running low on sun screen, having left my bottle at the last hotel. To keep my hands from burning I added thumb loops to my long-sleeved shirt. The seams at the wrist just happened to be placed in such a way as to keep my modification from ripping the material.
Thumb loop on shirt, to shield hands from sun

The solar panel with built-in battery pack was not enough to keep up with my cell phone charging requirements, so I also needed the external USB charger pack. I will try a different solar panel next year in hopes of not needing to supplement with my mophie. The solar panel was attached with mini side buckles sewn onto the panel fabric and backpack attachment straps, providing quick release to get access to the top opening of the pack.


Running gaiters kept small rocks and sand out of my shoes, so I almost never had to stop for a shoe break. The gaiters got pretty torn up by barbed wire fences, so were ready to be replaced by trip’s end at Cumbres Pass.

My Helios wide-brimmed hat was not enough to keep my face and neck from burning when hiking all day, especially when the sun was low in the sky. I needed to pin my bandana with safety pins on the brim for more shade.
Adding more shade to hat

The Caldera cooking system used on the AT performed well, but requires a separate plastic canister for storage. I tried transitioning to a home-made stove/windscreen/pot-support that fits inside my 0.5 liter pot for compact storage and to save weight. Plenty of wind can be expected on the CDT, so a good functioning wind screen is essential for alcohol stoves. I experimented with making several alcohol stove designs, but was not able to improve on the Caldera for cooking time and fuel use when I measured performance, so I stayed with the older equipment.

The Sawyer filter worked great, and was similar in weight to a Steripen, so I will keep using. I did include the syringe for backwashing the filter, and certainly needed it for New Mexico. During the day I kept the Sawyer screwed onto one of two 2-liter plastic soda bottles, stored in the lower outer side pockets of the pack. The soda bottles squeezed just as easily as a platypus bottle, and were quite durable and inexpensive. Do not screw on the filter too hard on the bottle threads, or you will chew up the washer and cause leakage during filtering.

I am used to hiking in shorts, but switched to long pants this trip for sun protection. The RailRiders performed well, did not bind at the knees, and allowed ventilation with the side zippered mesh.

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CDT 2013 NM Trail Journal Part 2

(PDF download of trip journal)

June 13

An early start from the motel might allow me to find wifi before heading up the mountain, so the start was 5:30am. The library wifi was closed when the building was closed, unlike many other libraries I have tried. Hiking while looking for open networks was finding no good sources. Finally while passing the little college I did manage to get signal, though only had time and patience to grab a few podcasts before hiking on.

Traveling on Lobo Canyon Drive past the correctional facility, I arrived at a signed trailhead with a work-crew adding on to the entrance gate.
Rare road sign marking CDT in New Mexico

Trail looked good, and I hoped to actually stay on “official” trail most of the way to Cuba– except I would be climbing to the summit of Mount Taylor today.

Trail stayed on a broad mesa, and climbs seemed to be moderate.
Climbing towards Mount Taylor

Shortly after leaving the official CDT I found a water cache left by the Mumms. One should give credit to these trail angels– they left caches for each trail alternative. Considerate.

They day was cloudy– for a change, so no siesta seemed to be necessary. Closer to the summit the trail seemed steeper, or perhaps I was more tired.

Cows grazing near the summit seemed unexpected. Rain threatened at times, though mostly an empty threat, since I had seen plenty of rain fall but evaporate before hitting the ground, in the past several days.

From the top I was rewarded with a panoramic view, though visibility was lessened by clouds. The temperature was noticeably cooler at 11301 feet elevation at 5pm.
Mount Taylor summit

Linger I did not, due to coolness. The forest road I was following seemed to stay high along ridges, but finally plunged low enough for me to seek camp, after passing some wild horses.

Continue reading “CDT 2013 NM Trail Journal Part 2”

CDT 2013 NM Trail Journal Part 1

(I am hiking the Continental Divide Trail south to north in sections, one state each year.)
(In New Mexico I tended to take popular scenic “alternate” routes, not the “official” route. Hike your own hike.)

(PDF download of trip journal)

April 4

The bus leaves Albuquerque at 4:30AM to arrive in Deming at 9:15AM, with a transfer at Las Cruces. I live about thirty minutes from the bus station, but do not want my family to wake up that early, so I accept a car ride at 10PM the night before my bus departure, and spend a few hours in the station waiting.
Albuquerque bus station

April 5

Greyhound’s bus finally pulls into Deming at 9:30AM, and Sam Hughes is waiting for me. We swing by his place in the tiny village of Hachita to pick up water that we will leave in one of the caches he tends. We also drop off his dog, who doesn’t appreciate the bone-rattling trip to the trailhead.
Sam’s dog

Shortly after turning onto the dirt road we pass a Jeep going the other way driven by a young woman. Later we meet a border patrol agent who says she dropped off a guy at Crazy Cook and will wait for him in Lordsburg. Perhaps I will meet someone on this section of trail.

Sam Hughes leaves water at first cache

Do not attempt this road without high clearance four wheel drive and off-road tires, and even then take it slow.

We arrive at the trailhead shortly before 1:00PM, and Sam shows me the monument that has been knocked down. In the heat of the day is not an ideal time to depart, but I have been practicing noon hiking with long sleeve pants and shirt to protect me from the sun. Sam has dropped off six hikers before me, with seventeen scheduled for later this month. Typically they arrive the night before and sleep in his yard, to get an early start. Oh… I did not know that.

We say goodbyes and I hit trail at one. Flat desert hike with reasonably good signage. First water cache is 14 miles, which I might not make today. I have 5 liters, enough for this stretch.

Out of Crazy Cook is an actual path, but later one must rely on trail signs, and not trust paths that might have been caused by cattle.
First trail sign, and visible path just out of Crazy Cook

The desert plants in this section are creosotebush with some yucca, and later ocotillo. I pass near an old broken windmill with adobe building tucked out of sight, and go over to investigate. Later a Border Patrol truck pulls up after I have gone on and I give them a wave: I must have tripped a sensor which they were required to check out.
Old adobe hidden near broken windmill

In time the trail goes up a small canyon and then back down along an arroyo. I am within a couple of miles of the water box but it will be dark soon enough and I make camp. Good first day.

Near first day’s campsite

Continue reading “CDT 2013 NM Trail Journal Part 1”