After a nice send off dinner with Todd and Charlotte and catch up with Cathy and John as they prepared their bikes for Mexico, I rolled out of Silver City at first light. Not sure if it was sadness creeping in with the end in sight or splitting up from these guys, but a double lane highway is a sure way to sap every ounce of your soul.
Luckily an absolutely blissful stretch of dirt interceded and wound out into the Chihuahuan Desert for yet another perspective on New Mexico's ever changing landscape.
New Mexico has filled at least one hole in my geographic bucket of ignorance. At the beginning of the trip, I imagined New Mexico would have a few spill over aspens from Colorado and then quickly churn out mile after mile amongst these guys with Arizona like buttes and jaw dropping sunsets every night. I imagined rattlers, scorpions and deadly spiders waiting by the side of the trail to lunge at my scrawny neck and drag me down piece by piece into one of these holes... New Mexico has been a fantastic mix of Arizona, Colorado, Mexico and probably some Texas thrown in for good measure.
The final dirt bliss gave way to a Separ which sites on the side of I-10 and specializes in piles of Black Cat fireworks, Native American crafts and Gatorade. Sad to see the last bits of the Divide's dirt give way to a final hardpack run towards the border.
Time to roll that Rohloff dial up to 14 and jam it.
With a picture perfect New Mexican sky, the desert spread out in all directions. No need to look behind for cars out here - just you, the yellow line and a few hand flicks from Border Patrolers blasting by.
Oh Hachita, you are quite and interesting little spot indeed. I rolled into town and tracked down my boys W and T who were going to meet me at the border the following morning and schlep me back to Silver City. W can hack your life so fast he should be working for the government, can operate a loader with one hand tied behind his back, packs heat for the rattlers, and knows the inner soul of all of Hachita's 35 residents. T, the local historian, chimed in only as needed to affirm W's theories and prophecies. But, they both have hearts of gold and I knew I was in the hands of the best as a chain smoking conversation filled the next three hours of daylight with only a few nods from me to keep things rolling.
For years and years, local resident Sam used to shuttle CDT thru-hikers to the start of the southern terminus of the Divide and stash water out in the desert for them to hit as they came north. The new Sam, Jeff, in addition to coordinating shuttles in and out of Antelope Wells has also generously donated a reverse osmosis well to the town. It may not sound like much, but Jeff, W and T and some of the other local residents on the up-and-up provide a valuable service for the GDMBR riders and the CDT thru-hikers. While a bit weathered, Hatchita welcomed me in and let me stake out at the community center, and provided some of the best water since Canada.
Morning promised a cool, windless run to the border.
a BIBO (breath in breath out) spin down the center of the road with only a few of these marking the distant horizon on an otherwise
straight shot to Antelope Wells. I missed a lot of the mile makers slipping by as I gazed into the northern heart of the Chihuahuan Desert and reflected on the previous 2,745 miles covered since Banff.
Relax yourself. You've plenty of road to warm up on.
Rolling to a stop at the Antelope Wells Border Station brought up a lot of mixed emotions - extreme gratitude for health, family and friends top the list. Back in June, there were a lot of "WTF did I just do to my life" moments as I put the final tape on the bike box. Making the leap to do the first leg of an unfolding and fluid journey has been one of the best things I've done to date with my life.
Positive words that I will hold close to the chest as the next chapter begins to take shape and unfold.