|Pinos Altos is just on the other side|
Was a hot day, and I got onto the CDT alternate trail that we have to take and rode for a while and then discovered that one of the oranges that I had tied in a bag had disappeared someplace on the trail. Wasn't going back to find it, and continued on. ( Travis and Norman found it coming up the trail behind me and said "it was delicious" ) When I got to the Sapillo campground, I decided that I needed more real food and so I took an off route detour and headed for the Spirit Canyon Cafe. An excellent choice, I got some more good solid food in my system, got rehydrated and felt 100% better. The rest of the day went pretty well, I passed the place where I slept last year and got several miles over that, and ended up late in the day at Rocky Canyon campground where I setup for the night.
It was 33 miles to the Beaverhead Work Center which has a great water supply, and that went pretty well. I passed Norman on the way and he came into Beaverhead just as I was leaving. Norman and I would ride together off and on all through the afternoon, and the two of us got to Horse Springs Church around 10 pm that night. We would camp near the church, got resupplied with water there and would leave for Pie Town early on a chilly morning the next day.
|Plains of San Augustine before Horse Springs Church|
Pie Town is such an awesome place. It represents the first place with real food that you get to after doing the Gila, and the Toaster House is this great little place to stay. I got there for breakfast, and Norm and Travis showed up a bit later. We met back at the Toaster House and decided that it was too early in the day to stop riding and maybe the big black clouds to the south of us wouldn't get us, so we headed North with a pretty nice little tailwind.
We had a pretty good ride up to Grants, passing El Malpais Monument, then crossed I-40 and hung around the Subway as they were closing and a big thunderstorm was moving in. With lightening all around we made it to a hotel and crashed for the night, planning an early start the next morning.
Up early, a stop at Dennys and then off to Cuba. It's about 125 miles with two possible stops for food and water being the laundromat outside Pueblo Pintado and a bar/convenience store closer to Cuba. I ran into Travis at the laundromat, which is a combination of laundromat, post office, gas station and convenience store. Had a couple of microwaved burritos and we sat in the shade and petted one of owner Dennis's dogs ( JR ).
|Travis and JR|
In Cuba, El Bruno's is still the place to go and the flan was outstanding ! The next morning the whole group of us were together for a bit, as Jeff had slowed up a bit, Travis and Norman and I were there and another rider joined in. I elected for more breakfast and made a quick stop at McDonalds and then on to Abiquiu. There is a nice paved climb out of Cuba on 126 and then you are into the Santa Fe forest, climbing up to about 10300 feet or so. I met Tiana Tallant early on, she was in NM after starting back in May in Banff and she was really happy and all smiles and seemed in pretty awesome condition for someone who had done over 2000 miles by herself ! A few hours later, I rounded a corner and had my first (and only) bear encounter ... a black bear was walking towards me. But the bear decided to leave the road after walking a few more steps towards me, leaving me a little rattled ( my bear spray being left behind in Tucson ). Got to Abiquiu, and ended up with the same room I had last year, and a really good meal in the restaurant, where I had the waiter bring me two deserts.
|Just order both !|
After Abiquiu, the next stop is El Rito, where Norm, Travis and I met again at the convenience store while waiting for El Farolito's to open up. We sat in the shade and waited and were pretty hungry at opening, but the food was worth the wait. Then off and into the mountains, and a rainstorm. No dogs in Vallecitos this year, I sailed through at top speed and then got to the Summer Store in Canon Plaza where Joe had the place opened. Norm and Travis stopped and we talked with Joe for a good half hour or more before leaving. That night we made Hopwell Lake and found a little campsite.
|Aspens and an old cabin, before Burned Mountain and Hopwell Lake|
The next morning, Travis was sick, perhaps from dehydration or altitude or both, and he and Norman stayed behind to ride out toward Los Alamos and I went ahead towards the Brazos Ridge and Colorado. Was fun to get near the top of Brazos Ridge and look at snowcapped peaks to the north that I knew were in Colorado. There were beautiful flowers all in the valley below the ridge, and then soon I was crossing into Colorado, going down La Manga Pass and getting all you can eat catfish at the reopened restaurant in Horca.
|Norman and Travis|
|Out in the distance, there is snow -- that's Colorado|
I felt pretty darn good, having finished New Mexico a day ahead of where I was last year, and ready to get up the next morning and do the highest altitudes on the whole trip going over Indiana Pass,