Thursday, July 24, 2008

Day 11 - Junebug Campground (Red River) to Cimarron Canyon State Park

Oh, I wish my wife were in New Mexico with me!

Well, Matt is about to get his wish. And isn't it nice to see that he thinks in the subjunctive?

After meeting more Tucsonans at the campground last night, Matt hit the road once again. He declared Red River to be a charming mountain town, and full of Texans to boot. Eagle's Nest was much less picturesque, but it did have a gas station with a roof he could hide under as the latest downpour began. He also got to enjoy a burger on the patio of a bar in town.

He headed down towards Cimarron Canyon State Park, but was wary of descending too far, since this part of New Mexico is "where the mountains meet the plains." The first campground, which had water, was full, so he had to continue on to the second, more primitive campground.

Tomorrow morning I'll be leaving Tucson to join him somewhere in the vicinity of Taos and the Enchanted Circle. When we're back, Matt will update all the blog entries with writing from his travel journal and photos from the trip. It'll be good stuff, so be sure to check back in again soon!

Today's route map (who knows what map will show up here. The Google maps are going all wiggety wack -- what's up, Blogger??):

Day 11 – 31 miles, 2:39, 11.5

After fending off the family of raccoons, last night was very quiet on my empty side of the campground. Got to love those sites that RVs can’t fit into! I might have heard (and seen) another Spotted Owl, must check out that call I heard. Decided to have a lazy morning and enjoy the forest. I mistakenly left my loaf of bread (packed away, of course) for a few minutes in the presence of ground squirrels. So, I came back to find one of them had dug into my pannier and chomped on a few slices!

I headed up the road a bit to the little ski town of Red River. I had thought I was about 3 miles away, but found out my quiet forest campsite was only half a mile from town! So I toured the small, but very busy scenic mountain town. Lots of motels, condos, bars, sports stores, etc, and mostly Texans with a few Kansans thrown in. Met some cyclists at the town market, and one of them was from Tucson! Why have I met so many Tucsonans on this trip?

Finally, a pass sign!

Up the steep Bobcat Pass (9800 ft) was short and then I had a long downhill pretty much the whole way to Eagle Nest. The scenery was amazing! Some views of a few of the big Sangre de Cristo peaks (Wheeler I think, the highest in New Mexico) and the descent into the beautiful Moreno Valley which opens up to expansive views of meadows and grassland.

Descending from Bobcat, Wheeler Peak?

Moreno Valley with Baldy Peak in the background

Continuing in my “lazy tour” mode, I stopped in Eagle Nest for a burger at the local pub. While eating the sky seemed to close in from all directions, so I found a phone and a place to put the bike under a roof – the Shamrock gas station. I hunkered down for about 2 hours as it poured, chatting with some of the travelers about my odd form of transportation.

After a while I saw my break and went for it, up the steep climb out of the valley and 3 miles to the first campground down in the lush canyon of Cimarron State Park. No room and too many people and RVs anyway. I filled all my water bottles and moved on to the next campground, 4 more miles down the canyon in a light rain. Blackjack is an interesting campground where the sites are spread out along a trail next to a rushing creek. No cars! Luckily there’s a site open (there are only 5 total), and finally, a bear locker to put all my stuff into instead of in my tent!

The canyon here is damp and cool. I may not see the sun for a while tomorrow.

Swainson’s Hawk - Violet Green Swallow - American Crow

Elizabeth Town

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