We quickly escaped the wind this morning by climbing out of the Pinon and Juniper covered Upper Sonoran Zone into the Transition Zone of tall Ponderosa Pines, which provided a wind-block. Here, we meandered along the continental divide, fully crossing it three times over a nine mile stretch.
Water is scarce in this section of New Mexico so we had planned to fill up at the Beaverhead Work Center. Unfortunately, they had closed for the season a few weeks earlier and the water had been shut off. We continued along the Geronimo Trail Scenic Byway and dropped down to Wall Lake. Here, we were able to refill our water thanks to the hospitality of the Geronimo Trail Guest Ranch, preventing us from being forced to filter water alongside cattle herds from the somewhat stagnant lake.
With darkness approaching, we had a rapid 800 foot descent to the Black Canyon Campground.
We left Pie Town and the comfort of the Toaster House this morning, unfortunately too early to stop for breakfast and pie in town. Confronted again with a moderate to strong headwind, we crossed the divide three times, although only the last crossing was noticeable. After this last crossing, we slipped below 8000 feet, where we will remain for the rest of the trip.
It started raining in the middle of the night, and hard too. The sound of the falling rain on the park shelter’s roof woke us up several times. Aided by the wind, the rain was even able to blow into the shelter, forcing us to cover ourselves with our tarp.
Today was another long day on the pavement and into the wind. We crossed out of the Navajo lands and after a short rest stop at Jay’s, one of the bars thankfully noted on our maps, we arrived in Grants, NM, essentially a large highway reststop, orginally on Route 66 and now I-40.
From Cuba our scheduled route was suppose to head south along Highway 550 for several miles before turning off-road on some of New Mexico’s endless dirt roads. Fully loaded with food (and water, since we’re now in the desert) for the next few days we departed from McDonalds (and Cuba) on our intended route. Shortly after turning off Highway 550 however we came to a grinding stop with our bikes mired in some of New Mexico’s infamous wet clay.