Saturday, July 30, 2011

Last Day: Hachita to Antelope Wells Mexican Border Crossing

45 miles to go, all on pavement, 90 something degree weather, no water sources, no trailer. My shadow was seen at 7ish in the morning, Sam stepped out since he is usually up around 5. There was a pot of coffee on, and Bear was wide awake. If filled my water bottles and packed my backpack with essentials for the next 45 miles. Same guessed that it would take 4 hours, and I set off around 8am down route 81 possibly the loneliest paved road in America. It took a little adjustment to get used to bike without the trailer, and trying to keep the speedometer above 12mph. Most of the traffic was border patrol, I was soon the the Hachet Wildlife area and took a short break for breakfast. Not long after I spotted my first tarantula! jumping off the bike and breaking out the camera! At around 11pm the same old truck pulled up beside me with 15 miles to go. I mentioned that this was similar to playing hide and seek, saying that you would count to 20 but you only counted to 10. Sam had left an hour early but he and Bear we happy to rest at the border. I reached to border in just over 4 hours and saw Sam asleep a couple 100ft from the border. He had mentioned that he knew the border patrol and I went into the office to say hi. I was offered a congratulatory popsicle and the vending machine was opened for me to grab a soda. After a couple pictures and breathes at the border, I rode back to Sam and we headed to pack up my gear before heading to Las Cruces. It was a finally over, the long awaited journey had come to fruition and was now at its terminus. Thanks to all of those that have supported me and helped Vets Helping Heroes. We will see what adventure is next!

Separ to Hachita

After being in contact with "trail angel" Sam Hughes while in Silver, today was a short ride mostly on pavement to the town of Hachita, 28 miles or so. I restocked at the Continental Divide store in Separ and set of paralleling I-10, this would lead to 146 and straight south to Hachita. The barely noticeable but last crossing of the Continental Divide was along this route. It was very early when I arrived and I stopped by the post office to inquire about Sam. The lady offered water and coke and said that he only lived a couple houses away. I chose to venture towards the gas station since it was mid afternoon and I would wait a couple hours to knock on Sam's door. After an hour or so and elderly gentleman drew up in and old pickup and asked if I were looking for Sam. I validated his question and he introduced himself and his dog "Bear" or "The mighty bear dog" who will go a bear hunting at the the flick of a switch. The mighty bear dog greeted me, and I was invited to follow Sam to his house. Once there I set up my tent while Sam and Bear sat in the shade and watched me work. After completion of my abode, I was offered a "whiskey drink" since Sam had just procured the ice and we went inside to share some stories. Sam left to spend some time with his friends in Hachita, and I went out to set up the rest of my gear. We laid plans for the morning and I went to sleep with a high winds a whipping.

Friday, July 29, 2011

Silver City to Separ

Southward from Silver the terrain is fairly level, I visited the supermarket and thought nothing of the ensuing 30 miles. The initial 20 something miles took me through downtown Silver, and a half hour conversation with a elderly gentleman at the local bank. Soon after I was spinning down highway 90, taking a break to take in the scenery and eat some dried apples. To my south was the vast expanse of the Chihuahuan Desert, the driest place I will have visited since that unfortunate stint in the Wyoming Basin. Shortly after I would soon be racing along this landscape, through the tall forests of Yucca and thoroughly enjoyed the dirt road over the previous pavement, average speed was around 12 miles and hour and the wind was on my side. Even though this is thorn country I only ventured of the trail once in search of water and was soon at the middle of nowhere campsite called "High Lonesome". In fact this is not a "campsite", not that I expected one, but a pick your own spot on the side of the road. Since it was only 3pm I choose to venture on towards Thorn Ranch and finally Separ. I continued to enjoy the dirt road and it was a relatively short 20 miles onward to Separ. Temperatures were in the mid 90's although did not seem to bother me as much as they had. Although at the time I did not know it, my weight had dropped to 142, reminiscent of junior year in high school. They isn't much in Separ, in fact its really only a general store. But it had plenty of calorie rich delights and offered a teepee as lodging. An early night with lots of bugs and the sounds of tractor trailers.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Black Canyon Campground to Silver City

I knew that it would be a long day as it was still raining when I awoke. And therefore I decided not to leave the tent until the rain had stopped. Thankfully this was around 8.30 and I set off down the embankment in search of water to fill the bottles for the ensuing climb. A series of uphill switchbacks greeted my morning stupor and I reached the pinnacle of the climb some hour or so later. This lead to a 8 mile descent and no matter what side of the dirt road I chose, there were still washboarded rivets. Not a problem if I had not shut off my front suspension, otherwise I could not wait for the road to lead to pavement. It was somewhat exciting that this would be the last real climb and descent that I would see, but also relieving and disheartening at the same time. When I met the junction with the pavement, I chose to follow the 2010 route to Silver and not the updated route which would have initially taken me north or "right". I not sure which would be longer or more difficult but both should be similar terrain. The following 30 or 40 miles followed tarmac, passing huge mining companies and tiny little towns all the way into Silver. Granted there was a huge climb in the midst of this, it was a on pavement and there was a huge shoulder to take breaks on. On arrival in Silver I quickly found a place to rehydrate and refuel as well as spend the night. Only three riding days left from here....

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Collins Park to Black Canyon Campround

Today's mileage added up to close to 60 miles, since I was short yesterday. The ride started in a Pine Timbered setting, it then passed through grasslands reminiscent of Montana, finishing in the rugged and arid Mogollan and Black Mountains. The gravel roads led to a roller-coaster of physical pain, with narrow and serpentine washboarded trails. I restocked water and had a soda at the Beaverhead Works Center, before setting out towards the Black Canyon. I was unsure whether or not I could make the designated campsite for the night and had the choice to camp early at the Wall Lake Campground. I chose to for go this option and push it until I made my mileage for the day. At around 7pm it started to thunderstorm and that last hour of my ride was very wet to say the least. The Forest Service campground was actually closed when I arrived so I had to wilderness camp on the side of the road again, thankfully there was a water source nearby so that I could stock up for the ensuing day. It was an extremely long days with about 11 hours of riding but I was glad to make up the distance and be back on track.

Valle Vences Campground to Somewhere near Collins Park

Yesterday was a fairly short 30 miles, today would be closer to 45 miles. The morning started with a simple downhill, although the terrain was slow and rocky. This placed me on Route 12 and in need of water. Thankfully it was a Sunday and the local church (the only thing around) was lively and I stopped in for water. This lead to joining the whole service, meeting the whole of the congregation and joining them for their pot luck lunch. Easily rivaling any ramen noodle concoction that I can make late at night on the trail. I bid farewell around 1pm and set off across the road into the barren plains, heading towards the Gila. Although this has become a monotonous affair it does have perfect timing and I was soon stuck in another thunderstorm. Many of the congregation passed me at this point although I mentioned that I would just wait out the storm and see how I faired. It was a long ride to find a wilderness campsite on the side of the road, but I camped 7 miles short of the designated primitive campsite. Right before this I passed the 24th crossing of the Divide.

Pie Town to Valle Vences Campground

Pie town signifies many things other than pie, it all signifies the last and final ACA map (6 of 6), it signifies only 305.5 left to go and also a 4 days stretch with no services. It starts by winding through a corridor of National Forest Lands, skirting the barren plains of the San Agustin and then ventures into the Gila National Forest, whose watershed divides are so tightly packed, which can only mean one thing. Not that this can't be seen by the numerous switchbacks shown on the maps, rattling the nerves and soon the bike. I was not looking forward to the immoderately steep climbs nor descents but off I went. I had met the "caboose" of the Tour Divide while enjoying my slice of pie and has set out late (1pm) from Pie Town just so that I could enjoy that slice. The racer has soon caught up to me in a very familiar position, sitting under a tree on the side of the road, sheltering from a thunderstorm. Although the road was in decent shape, the rain quickly made it impassable. Not only had I spent time sitting out of the rain, but then I spent another half hour going 50ft. I have not experienced the infamous mud before, but it quickly bound around the drive train and at one point I couldn't actually see my tires! There was at least 2 inches of mud/clay surrounding the tires, and a wedge of dirt stuck in the fender of the BOB. Physics students take note, simple machines really do work, just not to my advantage in this case. The other racer had an equally difficult time and we pushed through to slightly drier ground, a better choice than staying put. Although this entailed pushing the bike with one hand and scraping the mud off with another. There was a single windmill along the way and I pulled into the campground close to 7pm after a short climb to third continental divide crossing of the day (and 23rd for the trip). Although there was mention of water in the campground there was none, although I met two motorcyclists that had just started NOBO on the GDMBR. They were able to spare some water and we shared stories until it was time for me to rest.