David Johnson's Travel Blog
Bicycle Trip 1999
Okefenokee 2002
Anza-Borrego 2003
Texas 2003
Road Trip West 2003
Sequoia National Park 2004
Hiking Florida 2005
Nomadic 2005
Bicycle Trip 2009
Bicycle Trip 2010
Nomadic 2010
Little Bicycle Trip 2011
Wisconsin Bicycle Trip 2011
Bicycle Trip 2011
Nomadic 2011
Kayak Trip 2012
Nomadic 2012
Liverworks Productions
Nomadic 2013
Liverworks Productions
Texas Pig Hunting
Bicycle Trip 2014
04/18  Release the Cows!
04/19  Need A List
04/20  Million Dollar Water
04/23  Peoria IL
04/24  Navigating the Grid
04/25  I'm in a flat land
04/26  Ghetto in the Fields
04/27  The Katy Trail
04/30  Hermann MO
05/01  Hermann to Jefferson City
05/02  The Mushroom Hunters
05/03  Enter the Ozarks
05/04  Ha Ha Tonka
05/09  Bennett Springs State Park
05/10  Barbed Wire and Mansions
05/11  Hello Arkansas
05/16  Up the Mountain
05/17  Muddy Roads
05/21  The Ouachita Trail...
05/22  whip-a-ree
05/23  Mena
05/24  Oklahoma
05/25  Farm to Market to Paris
05/29  Caddo National Grasslands
05/30  Salt Palace and Alligators
05/31  Highways
06/01  Waco
06/06  Waco Mammoth Site
06/07  10 Liters
06/08  Mayonnaise or Mustard
06/10  Llano
06/11  Enchanted Rock and Old Tunnel
06/12  High Fences
06/13  Kickapoo Cavern
06/14  Del Rio
06/19  Into the Desert
06/20  Cold and Wet
06/21  Bicycler Bottleneck
06/22  Chisos Mountains
06/23  Chisos Mountain Lodge
06/24  Terlingua
06/25  Alpine
06/27  Friday Night Light
06/28  Dust Devils
07/02  Crops in the Desert
07/03  Armpit of America
07/04  City of Rocks
07/10  Gila National Forest
07/11  Peanut Butter
07/12  Last of the Washboards
07/13  Quemado
07/17  El Malpais
07/18  Last Desert Stretch
07/19  Farmington
07/24  Colorful Colorado
07/25  Between a Rock and a High Place
07/26  Cinnamon Pass
07/27  3250 Miles
Bicycle Trip 2015
Biking West 2015
Chickens and Pheasants 2016
Biking About 2016
New Zealand 2016
Kayak Trip 2017

Peanut Butter

2014-07-11

tl;dr: Gila National Forest was the toughest 46 miles ever. And then it got worse.

After a month or two sleeping under a sheet just trying to stay cool, I am now questioning my decision to send all of my warm clothes and sleeping bag home. By morning I was wrapped up in every layer I had with me. It turns out that at 7000 feet, it gets cold at night.

The day started off hard and didn't get easier. Uphill was a bear, and even downhill was tough. I gave up on even trying to peddle up steep slopes. When I finally arrived at Black Canyon, I could see the road going up the other side and fainted in my mind. I knew before descending that I would be walking all the way up the other side. And I did. But at the bottom was a clean creek where I ate lunch and filled my water bottles.

After that it flattened out a bit. I even came across an air strip. But there were still ups and downs, and the road was still well washboarded.

At one point I spotted an elk through the trees.

By early afternoon, I made it to Beaverhead Work Center, the maintenance hub for Gila National Forest. There is a soda machine that promises cool, sugary energy until you get up close and see the Out Of Order sign. I rested a bit, filled my water bottles, and decided between continuing on my original route of gravel roads, or taking the pavement spur to civilization. Today's rain was moving in. Of course, I chose the hard way.

I continued north along the Tour Divide route up a valley full of cows. The rain wasn't too bad. I came across an entire herd of elk grazing in a cow pasture. They bolted, of course, but the little ones couldn't make it through or over the fence. They ran back and forth bleating as their mothers all stood up on a hill watching.

Anther racer appeared. I finally remembered my camera.

Eventually I ran out of valley and trees and suddenly the road turned to "peanut butter", as described in a disgusted voice by the second racer I met. The road stuck to my tires and jammed beneath my racks to the point that my wheels would not even turn. At points I was literally dragging my bike through the mud. I found that if I got off the road and pushed through grass it was slightly better.

I came to a three-way branch in the road known as the Turkey Track. And I took the wrong road. Well, it was actually the correct road for staying on the Tour Divide, but it will add another twenty miles to my route.

The rain stopped, but the air didn't warm, and the roads didn't improve, but I learned to spot the really nasty sections, usually. I had to remove my tire once to clean out mud, but I was otherwise often scraping it clean with my butter knife.

I met another three racers. They lamented the New Mexico roads as being the worst of the entire race. Even Colorado dirt roads at 10000 feet were better. But they claimed the road improved about five miles ahead of me. It did. A little. I guess.

I plugged on up a slight slope, on soft slimy roads, against a cold wet wind, in too-thin air. Good times.

I made camp beneath some pine trees. I hadn't seen a person in hours, and had only passed a single ranch in even longer. It was shaping up to be even colder than last night, so I used the tarp I normally lay on the ground as an extra layer of tent. It helped I guess.

good morning Rocky Canyon


fire came through here


elk


Black Canyon. I have to climb that




Black Canyon






air strip at 7500 feet


turkey and chicks


montezuma quail




bugs




creek through a cow pasture


no kidding?


another storm coming


Beaverhead Work Center




elk fleeing, but little ones are stuck behind fence


waiting for the rest of the herd




a tour divide racer


out of the forest


peanut butter




tires jammed up


I made a wrong turn at the Turkey Track


more Tour Divide racers




good night New Mexico

contact me at le@liverworks.com
< 2014-07-10 Gila National Forest 2014-07-12 Last of the Washboards >