"I just got out of jail a few hours ago," said the man who sat next to me. We were embarking on an 8 hour Greyhound bus ride.
"Why did you go to prison?" I asked impertinently.
"The po-lice threw me in the pen for shooting a man," he explained. "He wanted some of myrugs, he pulled a knife on me, so I shot him."
And so would begin my latest adventure. Today I will attempt something that has never been done before: yo-yo the Continental Divide Trail (CDT). That means walking from Mexico to Canada and back to Mexico in 7 months or less. But before writing more about this foolish roundtrip, let's return to the ex-con who sat next to me.
"Is it true that a lot of prisoners engage in gay sex?" I asked, wondering if this former criminal would shoot me.
"Yeah, it happens."
"But what if you don't want to, you know, do it?" I keep asking.
"Nah, they won't force you. If you're not interested, nobody will bother you."
"Is there any gay bashing?" I wondered aloud.
"Nope. People do their own thang."
"Yeah, hike your own hike," I said.
The ex-con told me about prison life which was fascinating. The gangs in prisons, why they hate child molesters, how to murder one and get away with it, and how every prisoner has a personal TV with headphones. Although he was black, he didn't think the law enforcement was racially biased.
"Nah, you've done somethin' bad, you gotta pay for it. It's your time."
Eventually he got off in LA to visit his girlfriend and take care of his 5 children (with different women). He's 29 and was in prison for 5 years (because he broke parole). I continued to New Mexico.
Getting to the starting line of the CDT Yo-Yo
The bus stopped in the town of Lordsburg, which is in southern New Mexico, about 100 miles from the Mexican border. Every 10 minutes I would see a US Border Patrol truck drive by, checking everyone out. My backpack made me look suspicious, but the solar roll gave away that I was a gringo.
Since there's no bus to Antelope Wells, the US/Mexican Port of Entry, I had to hitchhike down there. After 2 hours and a couple of cars, Dave and Roxanne took a chance on me and drove me an hour to the border. They were going to Mexico for the weekend and dropped me off in front of the US Customs Station.
"What are you doing here?" asked Tim, the curious Customs Agent.
"I hope to walk to Canada and then walk back to the Mexican border by the town of Columbus. Do you think I will make it?"
I took my photos, filled up water, and started walking to the other starting line. That's right, there is more than one southern terminus for the CDT. In fact, there are three:
1) Antelope Wells: This is southernmost starting point, in the bootheel of New Mexico. PRO: It's the southernmost point, giving you the macho bragging rights that you walked the farthest. CON: It's a boring 15+ mile road walk out north of there.
2) Crazy Cook Monument: It's also located in the bootheel of New Mexico, but in the middle of the east side. It's in the middle of nowhere. No border checkpoint. The monument is piece of concrete that has inscribed the cold blooded murder of man by a crazy cook in 1907. PRO: It's the official southern terminus of the CDT. CON: It's so remote, nobody drives the dusty, bumpy dirt road to get there. For most, that means walking there, unless you can arrange a ride.
3) Columbus/Las Palomas: It's the most populous location of the three options (the other two have a population of 10 and zero, respectively). Buses go there. PRO: Easy access. CON: Although on the Mexican border, it's not the southernmost point.
On this yo-yo attempt, I want to hit all three. The first two on the way up, the last on the way down.
Therefore, I bid farewell to Tim, the US Customs Agent and walked about 30 miles to the middle of nowhere to get to the other starting line, the Crazy Cook Monument. I took some photos and film there. I jumped into Mexico briefly (nobody was there to care). Finally, I started walking to Canada.
Sponsor spotlight: Brunton
They're supplying the SolarRoll 4.5 which should power my phone/PDA/GPS device. Let's see how it goes. To find out more go to: Brunton SolarRolls.