Membres to somewhere else in New Mexico
6:00am. Last night it rained and it was difficult to sleep. The lightening and thunder were epic. I don’t know if that is common for this part of the country, but it was extremely uncommon for me. Even inside the tent, I could see the display that Mother Nature was putting on was spectacular in its ferocity and its beauty. I stayed in the tent and appreciated it vicariously, mostly dry.
Fortunately, it stopped raining by 7:00am so I was able to pack all my gear without getting myself or my gear any wetter. We stayed at the Mountain Mist RV Park in Membres. Our camp host Mickey was a dear. She fixed us breakfast and was just the sweetest person you could want to meet. I would like to go back to the Membres valley. There is a lot of beauty there, and a lot to see and do, particularly the Gila Cliff Dwellings. You could easily spend three days cycling the valley and surrounding areas. The RV park is the cleanest I’ve seen yet, very warm and inviting. Mickey even put new bottles of body wash and shampoo in the showers for us. That is a first on the trip. Those items haven’t been provided, until last night.
We started out the day with an 18 mile climb up to Emory Pass. The route was simply climbing with no relief. I had to stop once to let my heart rate come down. It was an average 6% grade with stretches of 10% thrown in for good measure. At the top, the view of the surrounding valley to the South was spectacular. The decent from the top was thrilling, the second most exciting descent I have ever done. The first being the Maui Downhill, which starts at the top of Mt. Haleakala and goes all the way to the ocean, 26 miles if I recall correctly. This descent was on the order of 17 miles with the first 7 being the most thrilling.
This area of New Mexico was the ancestral home of the Chiricahua Apache. They believed that everything on the land was their’s for the taking. That included all things natural and all things man-made. They fought a protracted struggle during the “Indian Wars” and were finally made “Prisoners Of War” and moved to Florida. The climate there was unhealthy for them and many died. They were then moved to Oklahoma. Eventually they were allowed to move back to their ancestral homes and live with other Apache Indians already established on reservations there. Some stayed in Oklahoma and homesteaded, some returned to New Mexico.
I reached the town of Hillsboro, about 18 miles below the summit of Emory Pass at just after 2pm. There was a cafe there that stayed open until 2, the owner was just closing. I asked if I and my riding companion could get some food and she let us in. We both ordered the “Hillsboro Hot Dog,” which turned out to be a Southwest style hot dog. Green chili peppers, bacon, tomatoes, and lots of other good stuff. It really was sort of a take on a Chicago style hot dog. It was wonderful. It was also perfectly timed because for dinner our group was planning a light meal due to a lack of groceries available in this rather more remote section of New Mexico.
Vertical: Too much
We topped out at 8,229 feet, the highest elevation on the tour.