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Hiking the CDT: Across the last state line

A scenic moment captured along the Continental Divide Trail in New Mexico.
Georgie Strawbridge

By Henry Strawbridge

Editor’s Note: The Strawbridge family from Lakeland, Fla., hiked the length of the Continental Divide Trail – all 3,100 miles of it – from Canada to Mexico. Henry Strawbridge, 14, provided updates of their journey to Trout Unlimited as they passed through the historic range of seven native trout species. You can track the family and see reports submitted by Henry on this map.

We have crossed the last state line into New Mexico. More importantly though, into an area my mom had been looking forward to. She loves the art of Georgia O’Keefe, and this is a place she spent a lot of time painting. The skies are different here. They have lots of different shades in distinct lines: dark blue, light blue, pale yellow, orange, pink, red. It kind of makes you want to be up there in the air, and not this boring brush tree desert. I shouldn’t complain too much — there were cool buttes everywhere. 

The Strawbridge family made it to New Mexico. Georgie Strawbridge

The most intriguing thing about the area to me was how much the land was shaped by the water. A small wash could become a deep narrow gorge before you know it. The dirt is so soft, it is almost sand. But we weren’t nervous about flash floods while we were there, because it wasn’t the season for that kind of thing.

The New Mexico landscape inspired artist Georgia O’Keefe. Georgie Strawbridge

Georgia O’Keefe spent a lot of time in a resort retreat called Ghost Ranch. The alternate route we walked goes right through the property. It had been nearly shut down because of COVID-19, but we could still tell that when it was open it was a fun place. There were trails leading up into box canyons, there were art studios, and adobe cabins everywhere.

We met our friends Doug and Liam there. On the way out we picked up another hiker who ended up walking with us for the next two days. 

We stopped for lunch by the Chama River and took a long siesta filled with swimming and halfhearted rock climbing. To make up for the long lunch we walked about an hour into the dark. 

Taking a water recreation break at the Chama River. Georgie Strawbridge

The next day we left Doug and Liam behind. I was sorry they missed the next morning, because we walked out into a wide meadow filled with herds of elk. Some herds had as many as 50 elk in them. For about four miles we could still hear the bulls bugling.

Reaching Cuba would be a big deal because it meant we wouldn’t have to worry about severe weather stopping us from finishing the trail. We would never again go higher than 9,000 feet. Good thing too, because the nights had been getting pretty cold.

Crossing a gorge. Georgie Strawbridge

After a long road walk into town, we met our Aunt Dellyne with her kids. She had driven down to see us from Colorado Springs, Colo. The main topic of our conversation was water sources for the next section. We were a little nervous for Doug and Liam, because some of the carries were long and we didn’t want them to get into trouble.

Until next time,

Henry

COVID-19 note: The Strawbridge family anxiously watched as the coronavirus issue threatened their plans to do the CDT this year. After careful consideration the family made the decision to drive to Montana to start the trip to avoid any possible exposure on airplanes. None of the family members exhibited symptoms during the journey.