|On the trail|
|Hiking back to the Catwalk|
|This is a metal catwalk attached to the mountain|
|Yeah, it gets a little narrow!|
|And the rock hangs over you|
|And the water is wayyyyyyy down there!|
|To get back to the Catwalks, you have to drive across the creek twice! It's not cause it's flooding, it just flows across the road!|
About noon, I headed out for what was supposed to be a 46 mile ride to Luna, NM. The weather was now nice enough, and the ride up out of the Gila River Canyon wasn't bad. The rollers were enjoyable, but I saw a mountain range ahead of me that looked ominous. I knew I had to go through a pass, and it was about to begin. My legs seemed heavy, and I wondered why I was moving so slow with a minor tail wind. I actually stopped and checked to see if my tires were inflated properly, and if my brakes were rubbing. The bike was fine, it was just that I was going up a hill. The mountain in front of me was so huge, my mind became discombobulated, and I couldn't even tell I was going up. I swear it looked level or slightly down. Four and a half miles later, I came to the peak of Saliz Pass. I had climbed about 2000 ft. I noticed that my heavy breathing was becoming more noticeable, and the temperature dropped about ten degrees. It was a quick ride down the other side, and I really didn't think it was that taxing of a ride. I did notice a dark sky up ahead and it looked like it might have been raining. Once again, I didn't see how I was going to get through the next range, so I had to be going over it. The second climb was huge! I lost the sun, the wind changed, and the 70 degree day I started with turned into a 49 degree finish. The second climb was six and a half miles up, and six and a half miles down. At the bottom of the other side, the weather was downright cold, and I rolled into a town called Luna, NM. The sign at the edge of town said the elevation was 7046 feet....and that was after coming downhill at 20-30 miles an hour for six and a half miles! The second pass was not marked, but I had to be over 9000 ft. No wonder I was sucking wind pretty hard!? At that point, Pam told me I had about ten miles to go to the campground. I had two more hills of over one and a half miles each, crossed the state line into Arizona, and ended up at a beautiful campground that was open, but the national park had not staffed it yet, so the stay is free, with no hookups.
The town of Alpine Arizona is over 8000 ft elevation. Walking to the bathroom makes us out of breath. I decided I needed a day off tomorrow after climbing about 5600 ft today. I descended about 2600 ft, so we had a total gain of over 3000 ft. Oxygen, please!! One of the neat things about being up this far is the animals I saw. I saw four mule deer coming over the first pass, and coming off the second pass, I saw three elk, one with huge antlers, so big I think it actually might have been a moose, or three. Later on I saw four more elk that I think were smaller and younger. None of them would pose for a picture however, so you're going to have to take my word for it.
Pam made a fire and cooked steaks and baked potatoes. Yum. We also found out that Arizona doesn't use daylight savings time, so we gained a hour, or did we lose it? I'm not sure. We are now three hours behind the east coast, even though we are in the mountain time zone.
|Rock formations out here are awesome|
|2011 was a very bad year for New Mexico and Arizona when it came to forest fires.|
|And this is just the beginning of what we would see...... 800,000 acres burned!|
So while Mike went for his little bike ride (sorry honey, I know it was tough), I decided to visit the Mogollon mine ghost town before I rolled down the highway. About 3 miles from our campsite was the road to the ghost town. I should have known when I turned onto the road and there was a sign that said winding road, no trailers, do not travel on in bad weather and not advise to travel at night! Well, it was the craziest 10 miles in of my life! I thought Rt 15 up at Cliff Dwellers was wild, not even close! The first 5 miles up the road was tight switchbacks going straight up, then I came to the sign that said "one lane road ahead"! Seriously? The two lane was hugging the mountain with NO shoulder and NO guard rail, ONE LANE? OMG! The one lane road was a nail biter - about 10 feet across and a straight drop off on my left - and no place to turn around. Every so often there was a little alcove in the mountain so you could pull over for cars coming down the mountain. In the end, I survived and took a few pictures at the ghost town. A few people actually live in the ghost town and keep the ghost town "living".
|Old cabin up on the hill (it had an out house too!)|
|Old fashioned general store|
|View as I was coming down. Yes Daddy, I did stop the Jeep to take the picture!|
|This is my one lane road|