Leaving our creekside camp in the Rio Grande National Forest we rode along 41G to the top of historic Carnero Pass. From there we wound our way down Dry Gulch on our way out to the plains, near the city of La Garita. As we descended the terrain morphed from mountains into a decidedly desert like landscape, with red soils and rock outcroppings and cacti.
We had lunch at the intersection of 41G and 38A before turning down 38A. After a short climb we turned due south along a forgotten section of two-track towards tonight’s destination of Del Norte, CO. The two-track turned out to be a blast, with little rollers that made perfect jumps. Despite the best efforts of our gear to keep us glued to terra firma, we were able to get both wheels off the ground on more than one occasion.
Eventually we crested a saddle and began our descent into the Rio Grande valley. When the trail deteriorated into more sandbox than trail, we abandoned it in favor of some better-conditioned singletrack paralleling the route. It was here we passed into one of the most interesting landscapes of our entire trip – a shooting range like no other. Here, in the middle of the desert outside Del Norte, people had brought objects of all varieties to be used as target practice; washers, dryers, cars, car tires, bottles by the millions, furniture of all sorts, electronics, and the carcasses of unidentifiable animals. Each and every object was riddled with enough bullet-holes to render them nearly transparent. Thankfully we made it through in one piece.
Once in Del Norte we setup camp in the one and only hotel, a place that necessitated the use of our sleeping bags. We found some dinner, threw back some beers in a local bar and retired to our room to prepare for tomorrow’s big climb. However, based on some beta from fellow GDR thru-rider Ben, we’ve learned the pass we’re heading over tomorrow, Indiana Pass, is possibly closed. Rumor has it that the road construction crew struck gold and is illegally mining it, limiting access and extending construction months past the planned end date. We’ll have to play it by ear and see what tomorrow brings.