Day 63: Mon 9/15 Gila Hot Springs! 2 mo anniversary :) 51 miles

Today marks 2 months that I’ve been on trail! I started exactly 2 months ago on July 15th. It sure doesn’t feel like it tho! On one hand it feels like I’ve been on trail way longer. On the other, seems like I just started from Banff. Lol!

Oh man, southern New Mexico is totally kicking my ass! Between the rain and mud and short but steep climbs, it’s tough! But wow it is so gorgeous!! The reason I originally wanted to go northbound on trail, was that I figured Banff would be way more dramatic of a finish, and ending in New Mexico would be anticlimactic. Boy was I wrong! Southern New Mexico, the whole state really, is absolutely *stunning*!! Last couple days I’ve been riding in and out of the Gila National Forest, and skirting various wilderness areas, and it has all be so amazingly magnificent.

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I decided to take a 50 mile detour to check out some hot springs, as well as ancient cliff dwellings. On the bright side, it was all pavement riding so that would make things faster going. On the not-so-bright side, it’s pavement. Lol! There is a significant temperature difference riding on pavement versus not. It’s frickin HOT!! Ugh when it’s already 93 degrees out, riding on asphalt just magnifies that. I dunno how the road cycle tour people do it. It’s kinda gnarly. On the bright side, I didn’t have to deal with mud. 🙂

I’m really glad I didn’t have a elevation chart for this detour, because I had to climb a HUGE mountain. Had I known how much work it was I may have opted to just go straight to Silver City (where I also have another huge mountain to get over). Lol! But it’s all good. I generally don’t like having to backtrack but hot springs and awesome relic of human anthropology is worth it. The view at the top of the climb was insane. I was looking down on the Gila Wilderness. Cool!

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Then, I had a massive descent. Yay! However, consequentially this means I have a massive ascent tomorrow to get back on route… But you know what, I’m not going to think about that right now. Lol!

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All during riding between this morning and now, there were 3 places listed on my map has having food. Little lodges in a pocket if civilization near a lake. This was pretty crucial, as I was out of food. Go figure all 3 places were closed for the season… Yikes! But, another place was randomly open and had some snack items. Saved!! Oh man I am so grateful they were open, otherwise I wouldn’t have been able to make it to the hot springs/cliff dwellings, because I had no more food. Yay!

In the midst of my side trip to the hot springs, I literally rode in between 3 separate thunderstorms, and I got rained on a bit. But hey, I’m on pavement so that means no mud yay!! I guess there are benefits to road riding, other than easier riding and faster miles. 😛

I made it to the hot springs pretty early. A little after 5pm. There just happened to also be a little general store right down the road that had snacks yay! I won’t be hungry tomorrow morning! :D. Thanks to the old man who worked there, who let me in 5 mins before he closed so I could get some food. Yipee!!

Today is an early day for me. I can’t believe I got my tent setup before 6pm! Lol! I almost feel like a slacker! Haha. I don’t think I had my tent up this early since the day I nero’d at the Whitefish Bike Retreat in Montana.

I spent the rest of the evening soaking in the hot springs. Whoo hoo! Oh man it felt sooooooo good. :). This counts as a shower, right? 😛

Tomorrow I ride about 5 miles up the road to the cliff dwelling site (they don’t open til 9), then backtrack alllll the way up and over the bigass mountain, and then into Silver City. They have a bike shop there yay! By the way, I’ve pretty much had no brake pads in my rear brakes since Cuba, NM. So I’ve been using my front brakes mainly. Which make these steep descents somewhat scary. Also, I lost the spacer and bolt that holds the bottom left side of my rear rack to my back bracket. So that’s just currently being held together by a Ziptie. Good thing I’m packing pretty light. Lol! Hopefully the bike shop in Silver City has some spare parts for me.

So The awesome thing is, you can camp right at the Gila Hot Springs here for $5. Or the day use fee is $4. Score!! 😀 A flat spot with potable water AND hot springs! What luxury!! Yay for 2 months living out of my tent! 😀 I’m a happy camper! 😀

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Day 62: Sun 9/14, Mud…Tired! 64 miles

Well, indeed I woke up at 3am with my tent half collapsed on me. Lol! The stake on the uphill side pulled out because I was smashed against the downhill side of my tent. Lol! Poop! I put the stake back in and then put a heavy rock on top (like I should have in the first place).

Oh man it was a chilly morning! It was one of those mornings where I woke up surrounded by fog. Needless to say I did not get an early start today. Lol! The fog burned off when the sun came. I was in a canyon so it took a while for the sun to hit me. But when it did it was nice and warm. Yay! It was a beautiful morning, I was stoked!

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The stoke was somewhat short lived though, because the road I was riding soon turned into thick mud. Maybe it was raining a lot in this area yesterday. Who knows. But it got to the point where my tires were so caked in mud they wouldn’t spin anymore. UGH!!! So my solution was to walk through the grass/shrubs.

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This pretty much continued on all morning. At times the road looked more compact so I’d try to ride, and I would go for a little bit, then my tires would stop spinning again. It was a veeeeeery slow going morning. I didn’t even get 10 miles in by noon. 😦

Finally I turned onto a better road that I was actually able to pedal. Yay!! When I was certain I wasn’t going to be in mid anymore I took a stick and tried to clean my drivetrain and bike and shoes as best I could. There was mud caked *everywhere*. It took forever just to scrape mud from my shoes and pedals enough so that I could clip in.

The riding the rest of the day was quite lovely. I started in forest, went into grassland, back up into the forest, then into a massive rolling expanse of grassland,

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And then back up into forest again.

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I’ve been in and out of the Gila National Forest. It’s quite beautiful actually. The last portion of the day I was up on a ridge, and on both sides of me were multiple valleys covered in trees, as far as my eyes could see. So cool!!

Oh man, I was soooo tired towards the end of the day. I didn’t even think I would make 60 miles. I dunno what it is. Not like I did big miles today. Perhaps slogging through mud this morning took a lot more out of me than I thought.

Maybe I didn’t eat enough. I kind of ran out of food partway through the day. Well, I’m not completely out. I have a handful of trail mix and about 3 candybars, which should get me through tomorrow. I think there’s a little general store in about 30ish miles. I forgot to resupply at Pie Town so I’ve been rationing what I have.

Oh! I have a new favorite candy bar! It’s the Nestle Crunch Girl Scout cookie bar, the coconut caramel one. It’s soooo good! Very similar to a Coffee Crisp actually (which is also made by nestle), except without the coffee flavor.

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Other candy bars which are my staple include: Twix, Milky Way dark chocolate, snickers rocky road (I don’t like regular snickers, never have), as well as almond snickers and the French vanilla Milky Way. These are the candy bars I eat before I do big climbs, or when I’m in a pissy mood. Lol!

Day 61: Sat 9/13, headwinds and rain :( 63 mile

I decided not to stay in Pie Town for the pie festival. It sounded pretty busy and I don’t think I could handle being around so many people. Lol. But, on the bright side I did get to eat lots of pie! Nita made a bunch, and my favorite is the pear ginger. 🙂

The weather so far was looking good, so I had high hopes. I passed by “The Stool Bus” as I left. It’s a septic tank pump. Haha. 🙂

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All early afternoon the weather was lovely. I rode through forest, and into a basin

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And back up into forest again

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Then I popped out and got a glimpse of the Plains of St.Augustine.

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I was dreading traversing this section, because I had a headwind since I left Pie Town. In the forest it isn’t too bad as the trees help tone it down, but in the wide open fields, I’m pretty screwed. Haha. Reluctantly, I made my descent.

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To make matters worse, the weather was looking quite yucky up ahead. There were some dark grey clouds directly in front of me, and I knew it was raining over there.

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Sure enough, I dropped into the plains and the wind was just cranking. Then, I got rained on. Bleh. Pedaling into a strong headwind in the rain is totally not fun. Lol! Bleh. I was in a pretty sour mood the whole time. Haha! Ah well, I knew the perfect weather wouldn’t last forever. On the bright side, I saw 3 wild horses running across the plains. That was so cool.

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It rained on me the rest of the day. Right at the end, it finally let up! Yay!! I was very grateful for that. 🙂 I am now back up in the forests filled with ponderosa pine trees. The sunset looked amazing, I couldn’t see much of it because I’m currently in a canyon right now, but I did catch a glimpse of the sky changing color. It was so cool, one if those times where the sky looked like it was on fire. I didn’t get a clear pic because of all the water on my camera.

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My camping options were pretty bleak. Anywhere that was kinda flat had 3′ of grass on it. I finally found a little spot under a tree that wasn’t covered in foliage. Yay! It wasn’t flat but oh well, I was going to have to make do because I was running out of daylight.

My tent is kind of sideways on a slight slope, so I’m pretty sure I’m going to wake up at least once in the middle of the night, mashed up against the side. Hopefully I don’t take out the support sticks. It is no fun to wake up to a collapsed tent. Lol! I also hope it doesn’t rain during the night, the ground here is super soft so my stakes aren’t in very tight. If it starts raining and the ground gets softer, my stakes might pull out. Which would not be cool. I could alway out a heavy rock on top for insurance. However, I’m wet and cold and muddy so I just want to get in my tent and thaw out. I’m just gonna take a gamble and say it won’t rain. 🙂 judging by the way the sky looks and the weather right now, I am optimistic.

Here’s to hoping for good weather throughout the night and all through tomorrow! And the rest of my ride for that matter. Lol! Crazy to think that at this point, I have less than 300 miles left!! 🙂

Day 60: Fri 9/12, easy ridin’ to Pie Town! 48 miles

Oooooh today was absolutely divine. I’m understanding now why they call New Mexico the Land of Enchantment. This place is truly enchanted. 🙂

All day it was awesomely mellow riding. I know it’s not gonna be like this for long so I definitely am grateful for the reprieve in difficult climbs. Lol! I started in some forest-ish looking terrain.

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Then I dropped a bit into wide open plains.

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All through my route, especially in New Mexico, I’ve passed by a lot of historic abandoned ranches. They’re really cool looking. I finally took a pic of one.

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I easily rode the 48 miles into pie town, yay! I found the Toaster House. This place is pretty much legendary amongst Divide walkers and cyclists. Put it this way, I heard about the toaster house way before I even started the Divide ride. Lol! It’s a house in Pie Town that exists as a place for travelers to stay. The family that used to live here isn’t in the house anymore, and Nita (who used to live here) lives down the road and maintains this house for travelers. Here’s Nita taking a picture of me, taking a picture of her:

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So the crazy thing is, the annual Pie Town pie festival is tomorrow, and so when I showed up at the Toaster House, part of the family that used to live here is actually in town for the festival!! What a treat it was to meet everyone! The family originally consisted of mom dad 3 daughters and 2 sons. Parents have since split, but all the family was in town except for the two sons and one of the daughters.

I took a cruise around town with some of the gals. New Mexico is a huge place for astronomy because there is so little light pollution. They have a huge radio antenna here, as well as other parts of the US (including Mauna Kea, Hawaii), and together they all point at something in the sky. It was so cool to see this gigantic thing in the middle of nowhere, randomly rotating. I wonder if it’s speaking to aliens. Lol!

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Here’s some pics of some of the gals I was hangin with today. This is Emily, a cousin of the Family.

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Here’s Autumn (one of the daughters), and family friend from Brazil.

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The super awesome thing is, the kids of the family (and by kids, I mean the average age of the children are about my age) are all rock climbers, and the Toaster House has traditionally been the meeting grounds of all their climber friends from surrounding areas, who come to Pie Town for the annual festival, as well as for climbing (there is great climbing in the area).

So towards the evening, I was surrounded by rock climbers (mainly Boulderers) from Las Cruces, Tuscon, Albequerque and other places. All Jueco (a famous climbing area in west Texas) climbers. 🙂 This was super awesome, as rock climbers are people I related to the most, after thru-hikers. Maybe because we’re all dirtbags, whether overtly so or deep down. Lol!

You know what’s funny, if it wasn’t for my dance career (and the fact that I live in Hawaii), I would totally be a dirtbag climber living out of a minivan with my bike, climbing gear, Butterstuff and the rest of my stuffed animal Clan, and a surfboard, cruising around the USA, chasing swell and warm weather. 🙂 But alas, I can’t really live like that with my multiple closets full of costumes and performance shoes and craft items to make more costumes, etc. Lol! I guess you could say, dance keeps me grounded. And permanently in one place. 🙂

Funny, since I was a little kid, I’ve wanted to be a nomad, kinda like a gypsy. So my entire life I spent acquiring very random and marketable skills, so that no matter where I lived in the world I could easily find a job. Just so happens the first place I went (Hawaii) I never wanted to leave. 🙂 I guess you could say I found the completion of my soul there, in more ways than one. 🙂

Ironically, here I am, in the middle of the desert. Physically and geographically the opposite of Hawaii. Interestingly enough, energetically it’s very similar. Hawaii pulses with an energy like I’ve never experienced anywhere else before. New Mexico also pulses with energy. Slightly more subtle, but no less present. It is truly a magical place. 🙂

So now Hawaii is my Base Camp for my global adventures, which actually works out very conveniently because I’m literally in the middle if the Pacific Rim so getting anywhere in that region is relatively easy. My next massive adventure, at some point in the foreseeable future, is I’m going to do the Great Himalayan Trail. Or at least the Nepalese portion of it. Possibly on bike as well as on foot, although I dunno how the logistics would work out for that. But before that I need to learn how to do some alpine mountaineering.

And even before that, I need to ride about 300 more miles to finish this trip. 😛

Day 59: Thurs 9/11, halfway to Pie Town! 48 miles

I was not happy camper this morning. Lol! I woke up around 9 and was just cranky all morning from being tired. It’s one of those days where I could probably sleep until 2pm and be totally happy. Times like this I’m so glad I’m traveling solo. When I’m not in a pleasant mood I prefer to keep to myself.

Last night I was thinking of staying another night in Grants so I could get some rest. But as I was doing errands this morning I decided I really don’t want to stay in this town another night. Id rather just get to Pie Town and chill there. Plus the weather is fantastic right now and I get super antsy if the weather is nice and I’m not riding. Besides, Saturday is the annual Pie Town Pie festival, so I will be in town for that. Oh boy! 😀

The ride out of Grants was absolutely magnificent. I rode through Zuni Canyon on I think what use to be an old railroad grade. The railroad was built in the early 1900s through that canyon to transport lumber, I believe. Nowadays there is no sign of railroad anywhere, just a gravel road with a wonderful and mellow grade. Yay! 🙂

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The riding was super chill and the scenery was absolutely fantastic! At some point I rode back up into forests again.

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My route took me onto a “scenic byway”. There were signs all over saying how it is impassable when wet. Another reason I am grateful for good weather. I’m in a volcanic area right now, and there are lava fields here and there. Reminds me of parts of the PCT going through Oregon, where I passed through many similar looking lava fields.

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Geology is so cool. I sure wish I had a bit more knowledge in the field. My sister is something of a geologist. Where I would think “wow those rocks are pretty”, my sister could probably identify the specific type of rock, it’s mineral makeup, and it’s age. Lol! It’s too bad my phone doesn’t have a lot of memory. There are many cool apps out there that help you identify plants, birds, trees, rocks, mountain peaks, all kinds of things. But alas, I must save the small amount of memory I have (I’m using an 8gb iPhone 4) for photos. 🙂

Hopefully I sleep well tonight. Perhaps I won’t wake up cranky tomorrow. Lol! Although it’s honestly really really hard to wake up in a bad mood out here. It’s so pretty. Well, unless it’s raining and/or cold. But that’s just because I’m a wuss when it comes to weather. Haha! 🙂

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Day 58: Weds 9/10, Beautiful desert riding, 96 miles

Last night I had an Oreo brownie for dinner.

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Word to the wise: if you ever eat one of these, don’t look at the ingredients label… O.o Or the nutritional information panel. Haha! Oh the random things you find at small-town gas station stores. 🙂 Anyhow, I figured I’d continue my trend and eat a sleeve of Oreos for breakfast. Haha.

I got going at 7am today. I had high ambitions of riding 90+ miles to get to Grants NM by tonight!

The desert is absolutely beautiful. Oh man, honestly the whole day of riding was just gorgeous!

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And yes, there was more sand. Haha. Oh man it was kind of annoying. Some parts I just couldn’t even pedal through, the wheels just sunk! Arrrrg!!It’s ok though, because the weather was beautiful and I was so grateful it wasn’t raining. Plus I just love desert scenery. 🙂

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At one point I passed some interesting looking boulders. Interesting because they were kind of round and very yellow. It was quite different than the predominately redish colored rocks that are all over.

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A rancher drove by me in a truck early today. He was saying how he always saw the cyclists and hikers come through and he thinks we’re all crazy. Lol! Nice guy. New Mexico is an interesting state. From what I’ve seen, all the areas of civilization look pretty gnarly upon first glance. However, the people are all very nice and courteous once you talk to them. That being said, this is the only state I’ve been through on the whole divide ride where I’m constantly paranoid about my bike getting stolen, when I’m in town.

Towards the end of the day, I had a climb, and I was briefly in forests again. Oh man I was so tired! I was so glad the grade wasn’t too steep, I might not have made it into Grants. The whole time I was climbing I kept wondering whether I would get to Grants or not. It was slow going. I kept singing songs in my head and trying not to look at my odometer, and basically did everything I could to try and motivate myself to keep pedaling. Lol!

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After what seemed like FOREVER, I finally crested the top whoo hoo! It was a wonderful 15 mile descent into Grants. I was so stoked because it was getting late. And I was soooo tired oh man! The people who race this route are NUTS. They do 100+ mile days consistently. No thanks! Haha.

So I was able to contact Kyle (my PCT partner in crime), who told me about a Chinese food all you can eat buffet in town. SWEET!! By the way, Kyle is about 100 miles from finishing the CDT! He’s currently in East Glacier,MT, waiting out a snowstorm. YIKES. The CDT hikers are so hardcore. Here’s a picture Kyle sent me. And yes, those are grizzly bear paw prints. Just for size reference, Kyle wears a size 13 shoe. Damn those paw prints are HUGE!!!

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The Chinese food buffet was good. Canton Cafe, I think it’s called. I’m usually wary of “Asian” food places in random towns, but when I walked in, it was a whole Chinese family running the joint, speaking Cantonese, with the kid son running around the place. Hence, I knew it was legit. Lol. And damn it was pretty good food. I’m Cantonese and it’s just like the food my mom makes. Yummy! 😀

Found a cool motel room on the historic Route 66 that runs through town. All the big corporate chain motels were on the other end of town. This was a cool independent joint called Southwest Motel. The owner was really nice and went out of his way to help me out, especially once he found out I rode in on my bike. $40 flat, for a nice room. Yay! I can finally shower. Haha! 😀

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Day 57: Tues 9/9 Forests -> Desert! Mexican Food!! 71 miles

I woke up very early this morning. And by “very early” I mean 6am. But that’s the benefit of sleeping early :). However it didn’t amount to much because shortly after it got windy and then it started raining on and off. Boo!

I guess you could say I’m a fair weather biker. I don’t like riding in the rain. Lol! Then again I don’t know a whole lot of people who are like, “yay it’s raining let’s go ride bikes!”. But still, when it’s wet and chilly outside I am highly unmotivated. Even with whiskey. Haha. So it took me forever to get moving this morning. When I finally emerged from my tent it was a pretty cool view actually. Foggy/misty.

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I was camped at over 10,000′. Crazy huh? I know when most people think of New Mexico you don’t think of forests and mountains. But the forests here are absolutely stunning. And high up!

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From 10k’ elevation I dropped to under 7,000′. The descent was pretty spectacular. The forest opened up to this massive basin of red rocks and sagebrush and desert-type shrubs, as I descended into the town of Cuba, NM. I have a feeling this is the last time I’ll be seeing trees like that. Bye bye trees and hello desert! 🙂

There’s not a whole lot to the town of Cuba. The town itself is quite historic and has been around for a long time, but in present days it doesn’t look like it’s doing so well. Kinda reminds me of Rawlins but way smaller. Went to the post office to pick up a package, which wasn’t there. It was sent last week. Shoulda been here by now. Tracking says it’s in South Dakota. What the hell, USPS?! Sending my package on the extended route or something? Geez. Lol. I think someone in the mail room screwed up and put it in the wrong shipping pile. Well, that kinda sucks for me. 😦

Oh a positive note, oh man, I had some fantastic Mexican food at this place called El Bruno’s. YUMMY!! Carnitas and beans and a cheese enchilada smothered in green chile, buried somewhere in there.

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The evening’s ride was lovely. Rolling through the desert.

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And, I saw another rainbow! Awesome! There’s actually two in there, a fainter one is on the right.

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The sunset was quite pretty. That’s one benefit of desert versus forest, you can really see the entire sky from where you are. In the forests you have to be on a high spot or somewhere out of the trees.

You know I really love the desert scenery. Pretty stoked for these last hundreds of miles. One of the reasons I enjoy the desert is because of it’s stark rawness and bare geology. The rocks and formations and earth tell such a fascinating story.

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The mountains and forests do too, but it’s covered with trees and foliage. The desert is a lot more naked and exposed. I think that’s neat. Plus, I think life tends to be much more difficult in the desert due to harsh survival conditions, so i tend to look at the flora and fauna around me quite differently, in the context of what it takes for something to survive and thrive out here. Reminds me of my favorite Edward Abbey quote:

Anything that lives where it would seem that nothing could live, enduring extremes of heat and cold, sunlight and storm, parching aridity and sudden cloudbursts, among burnt rocks and shifting sands, any such creature, beast, bird, or flower, testifies to the grandeur and heroism inherent in all forms of life. Including the human. Even in us.

-Edward Abbey

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