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Author Topic: Guadalupe Mts., NM (Part 2)  (Read 2598 times)

Offline trialsguy

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Guadalupe Mts., NM (Part 2)
« on: August 05, 2014, 10:54:15 PM »
... Part II

Here's a bit of photo-jumbling, but you wouldn't have known the difference.  But
I stopped here for breakfast both ways.  Alto Cafe, nice place, good people, good
food.  I was fearing where to stop in Ruidoso, not get tourist-ripped or get bad
food.  This place was "right there" and I'm glad I stopped.  It wasn't as empty
as it is in the picture.

On past Ruidoso, not a bad place, but no pictures.  I wanted to head out of town
and not take Hwy 244 to go towards Cloucroft, but rather take 10 through the
Mecalero Apache Reservation.  10 hooks up with 244 eventually, but looks more

So off I go, about 8 miles down 10, then I hit dirt (expected).  There's a
junction there, and a hand-painted sign lying on the ground saying something like
"Road Closed Fire Danger".  Well, it's all cattywampus, sorta facing the other
way, and I've seen too many signs that don't really mean what they say, and it's
a long ways back around, so I carry on.  This is about a 4-mile dirt stretch, ok?
No big deal to ride on through.  Well, about a mile up, I see a car and a white
pickup parked by a pond.  I smile and wave as I go by, and see that one of the
people talking there is a shave-headed guy in body armor.  Hmmm.... Being happy
that I waved and smiled, I pick up the pace, watching in my mirrors.  Whew. 
Then... from ahead comes another white pickup, hauling ass, lights a-flashing. 
Rats!  So we get together, there's a nice Apache Police Lady in body armor.  I
tell her to wait, take off my helmet and ear plugs. We have a nice conversation,
I tell her I didn't know if the sign meant this road or the other one, she tells
me the Sign People said they'd fix the signs but hadn't.  She was very 'official'
but let me go on through.  Here's a photo of the area.   

As somebody that's spent 10 seasons working on forest fires, I can say that the
danger of somebody going down that road and tossing out a cigarette (or whatever)
and starting a fire was miniscule. Green green green.  Some sort of power play
going on, I guess.  Two armored cops patrolling a 4-mile section of backcountry
road?  Beats me.

BTW, here's the sign at the *other end* of the road.

I'd say, avoid the Mescalero Apaches (and their casino).  I will.

Hooo.. glad to be done with that.  Onward through the mountains to Cloudcroft. 
Didn't take any pictures on the way down, but here's one from the way back. 

Past Cloudcroft towards the next place, Pinon.

Can you see that really really faint peak in the distance? Not the one you can see, but the really really faint one behind it.  That's El Capitan, the highest point of the Guads.  That's more or less where we're going.

Through Pinon, very small store open, got mucho Gatorade, this is 40 miles past
Cloudcroft, last place for gas (maybe).  They had a tank and pump setting out
front, with an extension cord running out to the pump.  Iffy, but I didn't really
need gas.

Off onto the 'dirt'.  I wish it really was, but the next umpteen miles would be
'improved' rock, great in a pickup, rough on a bike.  Ok sometimes, slow going
other times.

An example of why I don't believe signs without a second thought.  "No
Trespassing"?  This is a county road.  You should stay on the road and not go off
to either side, but it literally says "No trespassing beyond this cattle guard". 

An interesting place...

...but this was more like it.  Past Pinon, heading down to the Guadalupes fron
the west, is very very empty land. 

The road snaked (forever and ever) towards the Guads.  I really didn't have a
clear picture of what this was like, as I'd only been through here once, over 35
years ago. This was for the most part 'maintained', meaning rocky, which meant 20
mph.  A very few sections were dirt, smooth and 40 mph.  I'm sure other folks
would have made better time.  (See "Is this stupid" below).   :gerg:

Occasionally, there were verdant respites, veritable havens of lushness.

And some flowering life! Amazing.

So... onward.  I didn't pass another vehicle in over 60 miles.  It was hot.
(being careful to keep the thermometer in the shade for a while).

I sometimes ask myself, "Bob, is this stupid?".  I seldom answer "yes".  This
time it was "probably", as it was really hot, seldom shade, NO other traffic, and
if I bit the dust and hurt myself,... well, I had lots of time to come up with

Rancher on his weekly way to town for supplies...chases the buzzards off my
carcass, "Yup, another dumb tourist.  Guess I'll haul him down to the arroyo
where I put the last one". 

El Capitan, the southernmost and highest point of the Guads is in view.

At last!  El Paso Gap!  The notch in the mountains that lets you get up to the
(relative) coolness on top. 

More about the 'up top' later, I needed a place to hydrate and rest...
Going back to familiar places.....

Dark Canyon, at the base of the road to the Dark Canyon Lookout, where I spent a
short period of time when I first went to the Guads. 

Camp, kneeling pad, Whisperlite, lotsa water. (Morning shot, cooking coffee and

That night, there was a big blow about midnight... very strange, as the evening
was very calm.... so was the morning.  Portent of things to come?

I also heard, just before dark, frogs!  This is the only type of water that was

... and the puddles were filled with tadpoles.  I don't know how any could have
survived, I hope they do.  We had totally unseasonal rains, I hope they didn't
trigger their frog-cycle too early. Never did find a grown frog.

Leaving camp.

At the place called "Queen", there's this monument, a fella used to fly over the Guads dropping newspapers.  Good reason to get some air-time!  Had an old Piper Cub type plane (a Cruiser), and for some reason crashed.   :(

Stopped by the Forest Service site to bore the guys there with stories from 35
years ago (and top up my water bottles).  Well, the "light engine" foreman (I put
that in quotes because all the terminology has changed) was really great.  We
swapped stories, we had worked in some of the same areas (Oregon) and... he had a
cool t-shirt with the "Guadalupe District" and some other cool stuff on it. 

Well, when I was there, we had patches made with "Guad Squad" (does that date
it?) but nothing like his spiffy shirt.  As we parted, I told him I'd give half a
leg for one of those shirts.  Well, I walked out with one..... hoooo!  Thirty-
five years later....

The idea was to head off the north side of the mountains to the place called
Hope. The Guads are sort of a "L", the lower east-west part has Carlsbad Caverns
Nat'l. Park, and the northern leg is just an escarpment trending north.  You
can't get from the flatlands on the west to the top, except through El Paso Gap
(we've been there).  Here's a picture from the top, that road below is where we
suffered yesterday.

The drylands have some surprising things.

... that growing out of this...


So the road winds around the mountains, mostly inland from the rim.

Here's a non-functioning water tank. 

A metal tank with a big mass of barely-surviving cattails in it.

A cool old juniper.

The pump that did it.  How deep is the well?  Where did the pump get its power
from?  Dunno. bike took a selfie.

Cornudas in the distance. Very distinctive mountains.   

Stopped here to take a break, turned out that half a water jug had leaked inside
the pannier.  Ruined some mac-and-cheese and ramen. Gave the noodles to the
critters, took the rest with me.

My trip almost came upon an insurmountable obstacle.  Water!  It was a very
frightening thing, but I screwed up my courage and barely managed to skirt by on
the side.  Close call!

Ahhh... made it through the hazard.  Onward to Hope.

Hope.  Store closed....

... and blowing like hell, and a hunnert degrees..

Heading back towards the mountains and Cloudcroft.  Doesn't look like much, but
the weather was 100/40.... 100 degrees and a 40 mph crosswind.

I was making myself stop and suck down some water every 10 miles, got up to 50
mph now and then, and was not really having any fun, and ran across this. 
"Muerto" means "dead" en espanol.  Holy shit!

Made it to the mountains!  I was never so glad to get off 'the flats' in my life.

In Mayhill, there was a store... Gatorade!  Cheetos! (??) But, this place was
just too weird for me, I carried on.

Going up the valley to Cloudcroft, a great example of erosion.

Gassed up in Cloudcroft, I wondered if my spiffy IMS 10-gallon tank was really
necessary... well, after that loop, it took 6.1 gallons.  Yup, no regrets about

From Cloudcroft over to Ruidoso, here's the road I should have taken instead of
going through the Apache Rez.

Through Ruidoso, getting late, I'll try Oak Grove campground this time (right
along the paved road).  Guess what, only one other couple here.  Great!

So I called home, and learned that my son and his Sweetie had gotten engaged!
Break out the cheap wine!

... and a steak!

But the Forest was under fire restrictions, that's the only reason I was in an
official campground.  But my fire was struggling within the confines of the fire

Ah!  Liberated!

Great night, except that about 2 am. a godawful wind came up and blew the rain
fly clean off the tent.  Put it back on, and at about 4 am., it happened again. 
Weird.  I've never seen such strong little winds come up in the middle of the
night, then go away.

Back down Eagle Creek, to the Alto Cafe (you've seen it already).

Up Bonito Creek again, but we'll take the paved road back to Nogal instead of the
dirt road over the hill.  Signs of the Little Bear Fire.

Heading down to Nogal  See that very dim bit of mountain in the distance?  The ones you can barely see?  We'll
be heading just to the left of that.  The Gallinas, if you want to look it up.  I really love these big landscapes!

These roads are kinda bleak...

...but have some cool spots.  The extra rain runoff from the pavement and the
lack of grazing creates a whole 'nuther ecosystem between the road and the fence.

Ok, back the same way we came, just a couple shots of a church I didn't
photograph on the way down.  This is in the Land Grant country.

Oh, and the chocolate covered espresso beans!  I paid almost 4 bucks for these
things, and look what happened to them in my tank bag. Do you think I can get my
money back?

See ya!

Offline Spanky

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Re: Guadalupe Mts., NM (Part 2)
« Reply #1 on: August 06, 2014, 10:30:15 AM »
Has beans...!  Get a straw!    Nice report!
Zat choo, Buckwheat...?

Offline Road2adv

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Re: Guadalupe Mts., NM (Part 2)
« Reply #2 on: August 07, 2014, 08:03:50 PM »
Great ride report. You can keep the heat..........  it's only 100 deg. here, with fires all around us here in W. E. Washington State. :jkam:

Love the photos. Thank you for posting.

Ride safe. Change the gas often.   jerry

Offline trialsguy

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Re: Guadalupe Mts., NM (Part 2)
« Reply #3 on: August 07, 2014, 11:12:45 PM »
Great ride report. You can keep the heat..........  it's only 100 deg. here, with fires all around us here in W. E. Washington State. :jkam:

... and now we're actually getting a monsoon season, been in the mid-50's some mornings (at 7,000'), lotsa rain.  Hally-looya!
  :clap: :mol: :banana: :wings: :claps:

Offline oldstove

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Re: Guadalupe Mts., NM (Part 2)
« Reply #4 on: August 07, 2014, 11:48:28 PM »
Awesome report and pics! Truly interesting area!
KLR - 2 wheeled multitool

Offline MacGyver

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Re: Guadalupe Mts., NM (Part 2)
« Reply #5 on: August 08, 2014, 04:19:08 AM »
Great pics and excellent narrative trialsguy!  :mol:
The open spaces out there are SO different than what we have on this side of the country.

Thanks !  :beer:

Offline Bernie

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Re: Guadalupe Mts., NM (Part 2)
« Reply #6 on: August 09, 2014, 02:17:50 AM »
Thanks again Trailsguy

 :thumb: :thumb:


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