Into New Mexico!

This post is a littler longer than most as it covers more days. A couple of things contributed to this. First, the lack of reliable wifi or cell service and food poisoning. Being under the weather and on the road like this was tough! It is great to feel human again 🙂
September 6 – Just a few minutes after departing Del Norte, we began climbing the biggest pass of our journey. The map says it was 11910, but Bill’s GPS says it was 11995. I’ll take BIll’s reading as it was a tough, tough climb.

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At the top, trail Angels Carson and Donna from Illinois fed us lunch! They were driving by as we summit red and though we might be hungry!

After the summit, we descended 800 feet to Summittville. It is the site of an old mine (gold and copper) and is now an EPA superfund site. It looks like they took down half the mountain in search for metal.   Marmots were all over the tops of the old buildings. They would peer at us as we were riding, but when we stopped to take pictures, they disappeared.

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Our climbing wasn’t finished. We climbed about 300 feet and descended, climbed another 500 and descended 1600, finally, we climbed 600 feet and descended into Platoro.

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The ride was beautiful. We saw red mountains which were made so by the iron rich ore they contain.

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None of the water we came across on today’s ride was drinkable. The combination of naturally acidic water from leached minerals and pollution from the mining in the area have made all the streams tainted with heavy metals. We carried an extra dromedary filled with water to sustain us.

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Platoro is a tiny town. Founded by the search for plato (silver) and oro (gold). It sits at 9700 feet elevation. We stayed at the Skyline Lodge which is an historic lodge log. The rock fireplaces were enormous. You could stand up in them. It was filled with comfy log furniture. It was a restful place to spend the night. We stayed in a renovated airstream which was pretty awesome.

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September 7 – We rode from Platoro Lower Lagunita Lake Campground just beyond Brazos Ridge.  We rode through beautiful forests and open sage land with beautiful vistas.  There were big climbs and descents today. We had 3 summits over 10,000 feet. The first, LaMange Pass, was 10230 feet, the second was 10,625 feet, and Brazos Ridge we 10,901 feet!

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Somewhere between these summits, we crossed into New Mexico!

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There were a ton of hunters in the area. I am sure they would have relished seeing the two huge bucks we saw halfway through the day. After we made camp and dusk was settling in, an even bigger buck showed up at the lake. It was amazing to watch him drink from the lake and nibble on the grass at the edge of the lake. I was so thankful there were no hunters around.

Early in the morning, I was awakened by a god-awful noise. I couldn’t figure out what it was. I asked Bill what he thought. He said it was coyotes. Again, I said, if those are coyotes, they can’t be successful hunters. There is no stealth in noise like they were making. Later in the morning, I was talking to some other campers, and they asked me if I heard the elk bugling. So that is what the noise was!

September 8 – There were several summits over 9000 feet today. Our top summit was Burned Mountain at 10,457 feet.

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These forests are amazing. We were not expecting forests with huge pines here in New Mexico. Some areas are thickly treed, and lower elevations have more distance between trees. As you lose elevation, trees are more sparse.

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After over 50 miles of up and down big hills, we made camp at a primitive site just off the edge of the forest service road.

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September 9 – From the last night’s camp site, we road to Abiquiu, New Mexico.  We climbed through beautiful forests.

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Although the roads were beat up by monsoon rains, it was an enjoyable ride.

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I saw the biggest rattlesnake I have ever seen. We also saw 2 cow elk and a bull running through the forest. When we created the hill we were climbing, we were just in time to see the two cows run across the road in front of use. What beautiful animals they are. The bull was nowhere to be seen.

Just after seeing the elk, we began a long descent. First into El Rito, then into Abiquiu. Somewhere during the day, I picked up a stomach bug. Ugh!
September 10 – Late yesterday, we decided to take a pavement detour to our next town because of my illness. It was a gorgeous ride. First, we saw Abiquiu Lake. It was a beautiful red-rock lined lake with many coves.

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For most of the day, we rode into the wind. At 4476 feet gained, it was an easier ride than the 7-9000 we would have climbed over gravel roads.

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September 10 – Leaving last night’s destination of Cuba, New Mexico, we again faced the wind. We rode our longest day yet of 90.22 miles. There were beautiful rock formations and wonderful people along the way.

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All day long, we chased thunderstorms and were rewarded with a rainbow.

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There was lots of up and down climbing through the desert. Finally, at sundown, we made camp.

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September 11 – Today we took an easy day and rode just under 34 miles into Grants< New Mexico.  We again rode through beautiful geologic formations that lined the road.

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Our journey has now taken us over 4500 bicycle miles! It continues to be an amazing journey. Life is great!

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