Four border patrol trucks and one helicopter greeted me as we finished the CDT today at the Columbus/Palomas US/Mexico border. We woke in our tent in an arroyo to a beautiful sunrise and I could feel that the trail was almost over. That morning, the desert scenery that seemed run-of-the-mill for the last few hundred miles suddenly seemed precious like I needed to take a photo of it all (pretty miraculous since I’d barely pulled out my camera for the last 400 miles). We saw javellinas scurrying off down the trail and everything seemed perfect…until we got lost. Again. On the last day. We found our faint jeep trail end at a barbed wire fence and on the other side, there was no trail at all. Eventually, we found our way to the road, but that mile of bushwacking reminded us that the CDT is still a “trail” in progress.
In Columbus, we met up with Mickey and Ann, the uncle and aunt of a friend from school. They were amazing hosts and took a large poster-sized star with a hand-drawn CDT symbol and “Southern Terminus” written on it to the border. They suggested a nice route to the border, which I suggest all future hikers take: From Panchol Villa State Park campground, hit the southwest fence corner (it’s green) and hop it and another fence to hit a dirt road. Walk that road south 3 miles, and you have an off-Highway 11 nice country road route to the border. Of course, sicne we weren’t walking on Highway 11, the Border Patrol wasn’t exactly sure what we were doing, so we had an exciting ending.
Mickey and Ann got some fantastic shots of us at the fence and at the border. Unlike my camera, which has lost it’s ability to zoom, Mickey’s camera had a huge lens and he had a great eye for perfect finishing shots. They let us store our packs in their car and we walked across the border to the Pink Store to claim our free beer (the store owner’s reward to finishing thru-hikers). The Pink Store was such a great and unreal place to finish. It was so brighty and colorful and covered in art. Since it was a Mexican holiday when we finished, it was crowded and there was a liveband and it felt like a party.
We were treated to a fantastic lunch in a lively place…such a nice ending to a beautiful, but difficult, trail.
Liz "Snorkel" Thomas
Liz Thomas is a well-traveled adventure athlete most known for breaking the women’s unsupported speed record on the Appalachian Trail in 2011. She has completed the Triple Crown of Hiking–the Appalachian Trail, the 2,650 mile Pacific Crest Trail, and 3,100 mile Continental Divide Trail–and has backpacked over 15,000 miles across the United States. While not on trail, Liz lives in Denver, Colorado.