Here I be in Silver City, NM. After a winding and extremely hilly route through the Gila National Forest, where I was squeezed to within yards of two different wilderness areas, the route dumped me out here. That is not fully accurate, actually. The route deposited me almost on the doorstep of Dave and Jackie Smee, who I found by very lucky coincidence of stopping at the local fire station to ask for water. Dave offered to let me ‘camp’ at his home, and as so often is the case, ‘camp’ became ‘sleep in my guest house, have dinner, take a shower, enjoy good conversation over wine and then tea’. I love meeting people on this trail because I get such wonderful view of what (some) Americans are up to these days, and I am at the mercy of their hospitality. Anyway, after such lovely hospitality, I made the remainder of the journey into Silver City. From here it is a scant two day ride to the US-Mexico border, so the next time you hear from me will be sometime in the process of going home.

From Grants, as I mentioned in the last post, I took a day of paved road riding to rest my palsied hand, and went through El Malpais national monument. El Malpais has lava, very young lava that oozed across the desert in geologically recent history. It has also this feature, La Ventana:

La Ventana - window to somewhere.

Beautifully eroded cliffs crowded the road on one side and the chunky lava hugged the other. Lavascapes are singularly fascinating, managing to be both young and yet to us seem very old at the same time.

After a humdrum day of ranch riding following El Malpais, I came to Pie town. Pie town sits at the confluence of the Continental Divide Hiking Trail and the Great Divide Mountain Biking Trail, and is home to some fantastic pie as well as the Toaster House, so named for the toaster-laden arbor gracing the entry way. The Toaster House is something of an institution on the trail. It was once lived in by Nita, who now lives elsewhere and keeps the house for bikers and hikers. I met a throng of CDT thru-hikers there and took a rest day, lounging on the porch, talking with the hikers, and drinking Tecate. Most of them had heard of me, Rob, and Sid on the PCT (for those who don’t know, Rob and I hiked the PCT in 2005 and we brought Sid (my goat) who got kicked ,off the trail by a park ranger 800 miles in due to some technical definitions of stock animals), and I realized the reason people know is because of the video I was in by Sasquatch, a documentary film maker, titled Still Walking and about the PCT and those funny folk who hike it. It was fun to relive it with hikers and to stir up some outrage. I think maybe my next adventure will be to hike the CDT with a horse.

My hand is okay these days, but only okay. The pain is less, mostly I think because I am doing some stretches for the nerve and I adjusted the grips on my bike. But the weakness is still there, and it’s starting to interfere with holding a fork. That means it’s starting to come between me and my food. That is sad news indeed. I weighed myself the other day and I’m down 13 pounds, perhaps more. While it’s likely all upper body muscle mass from a neglected yoga practice and months of bowing to my handlebars, I still feel that my shorts are baggier than when I started. Which brings me to a musing.

I’d like to revisit the topic of things I have left behind on this trip. Long ago I had a bit of a list, which you may recall. I lost a pair of underwear on the first day. I left behind the tent poles, twice. I left behind a stake for my tarp, the whistle for my bike, my cycling gloves. I lost one of the mounting clips for my saddle bag. I left behind thirteen pounds of me somewhere in the last couple months, left droplet by sweat droplet on the trail. I left behind the grizzly bears in Pinedale, WY, and then I left behind my bear spray in Abiquiu, NM when it fell out of my bar bag on the way to he farm. I left behind the snow in Colorado when it dusted on me the last night in the state, and I left behind the rocky mountains in Grants. And now, arriving in Silver City, I have left behind the mountains altogether. I plunge now headlong into the Chihuahua desert, where if I am very lucky, I will see a Javelina rooting around in a century plant.

The end is both sad and happy, and I feel accordingly. I’ve loved New Mexico, wild and thorny and beautiful, and I’m sure I will also love sitting on a train in just a couple of days and covering in hours what would have taken me days on my bike. I’ll post as soon as I can get internet again (who knows?!). Til then, I leave you with:

Beautiful, open New Mexico

New Mexico sunset between Cuba and Grants

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