Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Tour Divide 2014 Day 8 El Rito & Canon Plaza

Woke up and tried to figure out what day it was.  I am loosing track of time on this trip ! Apparently it's Friday morning and I have been out over a week now and I packed the bike and got ready for another big day.  This day would take me into the Tusas Mountains on the way to Colorado.  I didn't expect that  I would clear it all in one day, and planned to make Canon Plaza and maybe get to Hopwell Campground for the night.  Had a great breakfast at the Inn, and then headed out.  As I rode to El Rito a car slowed and a fellow asked me if I was doing the Divide.  He said he knew Mary from the movie, and gave me some encouragement.   The ride to El Rito was paved and went well.  In El Rito I stopped at a liquor store/grocery store and bought stuff for the night to come.  It was about 10:30 and the clerk said the restaurant in town didn't open until 11:30 and offered a shady place under trees in the back to rest, and I took him up on it and took off the Camelback, leaned up against it and napped for about an hour.

When I got up, I headed for El Farolito's.  Lunch was a burger, fries and a shake, and then a stuffed sopapilla with meat and beans and cheese, all wrapped up for the trip.  With that, a bunch of energy bars, some apples, and a couple of Cokes I headed out.  Right outside El Rito, the road turned to dirt with some sand and a bit of a grade.

Scene from "Ride the Divide" - a pay phone used to be on the left side of the building
El Farolito's   Great Mexican Food !  

The next village I would pass is Vallecitos, known for having a bunch of loose dogs, and I found that to be true ... as I entered the last part of the little town a Rottweiler came out from a house ( with the owner standing around in the yard, by the way ) and chased me.  I knew these guys were going to be there and out ran him, but he could be a little dangerous going the other way as there is more of a grade to go up.  I think some riders may even have used bear spray in the past on these dogs.   Another smaller dog came out, but he was slower and not as big of a threat.

At this point the road became paved and it was all the way to Canon Plaza.   In Canon Plaza is the "Summer Store", a little store operated out of a tuff shed building on the side of the road.  I stopped and saw their sign that says "Honk Horn".  Since I didn't have one, I tried the pickup truck with the forsale sign on it, but that horn didn't work.  Stood around for a few minutes and an old dog from a house came down to the store and lay down.  That appeared to be the house of the owners, so I waited and then went up to the house.  Checked the doorbell and no one home.  Then I ran into a puppy,  a little black and white felllow that still had that puppy smell  about him.  I wanted to take him with me, but no room in the Camelback.   So I decided to leave and headed up into the forest towards Burned Mountain.

As I climbed I passed an old mining camp with a pretty spring, and then began to smell smoke.  Yes, there was a small forest fire off to the south and west of the road that I was on.   For just a bit I was concerned that I might have a problem as I saw a little bit of visible smoke across the road, but the wind quickly cleared it.  Climbing further it was behind and the wind was blowing it away from me.  The shadows grew longer and longer and I climbed more and knew I was above 10,000 feet once again.  I knew I was close to the Campground that I had intended to get to, but it was getting dark enough that I decided to stop in a clearing where another FR91 piece turned off.  At this height as soon as the shadows lengthened it got cold.  So I drank one of my Cokes and ate the stuffed sopapilla and got ready for the night.

Another clear and cold night with coyotes howling in the area, more elk making noises in the night and an OHV that came from someplace down FR91B and then went down the FR91B-something and turned back.  Wasn't sure at all where he came from.  Next morning it was pretty apparent that he was from the campground area that was only about a mile over the ridge.  I was closer to the top of Burned Mountain than I though I was !

Burned Mountain Campsite
Supper - Delicious !

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