I woke up at 4am with pleasure, a small glimmer of excitement at the miles that I would get to experience, that would be mine to treasure. Long may that last! The moon with the stars was just magical. I got going within 15 minutes of being awake and commenced up a rocky road towards Las Ulvas. It was super rocky and I began to regret not bringing my slightly heavier and much brighter headlamp. The illumination of the moon ended up being better than the false perception my one beam of light gave me. Headlamp away, committed to a power hike.
It was just wondrous! The terrain was perfect and the hills loomed high. It was a steady uphill and I was happy. I saw Brad’s headlamp a mile or so behind me. The sun began to illuminate what looked like a true mountain pass! Exciting. I got true momentum rising up and paused briefly on top. It was super windy still and quite cold but I scarfed some more tortillas and tried to take some photos.
The descent down was just thrilling. Very rocky so not super fast but I finally feel that I am growing as a downhill runner. It was joyous. I pulled out into this flatter canyonland, with a quick look behind me – where was Brad? I hoped he wasn’t lost. I veered on through, high up in the mountains. I pulled onto a country road, still wearing lots of layers. It was cold up here!
I finally hit water. It was disgusting. I know that if it’s gunky and has stuff in it, it’s meant to be good for you, but it really didn’t look pleasant. I was imagining that I would find Brad here as I thought he must have gotten ahead. He was not. I sat around for as long as I plausibly could, filtering many liters of water and drying my stuff out a bit. I decided to keep going. I was worried that something had happened to him but reasoned that he would probably have just turned around and gone back to the road. One way or another, waiting here was not helpful.
I hit a great gate and then oh my goodness! A steady downhill country road, up high, surrounded by the mountains. I imagine running in Colorado is like this but it was even better because it was the desert! I felt like Julie Andrews and Paula Radcliffe.
I dropped back down nearer a canyon and oh my godness this is remote. I never understood what friends on the CDT meant about wild and remote land. I thought it was the same as the desert on the PCT. It was not the same. The sun was blazing and I was beginning to feel a bit tired. I heard the buzz of an ATV and it truly was exciting. The guy did come over to say hi and check I was ok which was nice. On I went! It was extremely silent at this point. All I can hear is the sun.
Eventually I hear something and it’s the clinging of Brad’s bike! We take a quick break on a hill and catch up. He is having major bike issues. It made me thankful to not have a bike as there is so much to go wrong with it and it sounds expensive to fix. At least with me, as long as my feet are attached to my legs, I can go (reading back on this a week later makes me want to die. What arrogance!)
His brakes had broken, and his tires were being mashed. I know he was having some doubts about his bike having the resilience for the southern loop, and we started looking for a way for him to bail out earlier. Although there was a road coming up, we settled on a road that would place me 25 miles or so out of town, and should hopefully be a less rugged cruise for him into town. On we went. It actually was quite funny as we were together for quite a bit. I could almost always catch him uphill, particularly as he wasn’t bombing the descents (not really possible with no brakes). He got quite a bit ahead but I found him waiting in a wash. He can’t cycle when it’s sandy and boy was this sandy! I am able to push through the sand or pull up onto sturdier ground a lot more easily. Eventually I made it onto a really clean dirt road. It was cruisey! I saw two guys in an ATV who had the deepest twang of disbelief in their voices you can imagine. I couldn’t tell whether Brad was ahead or behind in the confusion of the wash, but I knew as soon as he hit this road he would be zooming again.
The sun began to set on the Organs and it was spectacular. I could barely run I was so happy.
I arrived at water and it was OK. It was very still and even though I know that’s bad it looked quite pretty for a cattle trough. It definitely tasted like cow but not in a bad way. The sun dipped below a hill and immediately it got totally frosty. I had to keep moving! I could hear Brad talking to me in this kind of mooing yell. It sort of made me laugh but I wasn’t getting the joke. Why was he talking to me like a cow? I would laugh and say something like ‘Brad!! Stop talking like a cow’, and he would just moo back at me. Bizarre. Eventually his stoic refusal to reply to me paid off and I started to moo too. Peer pressure. Were we playing a bovine game of Marco Polo? I topped up a slight hill and found a herd of cows. Aha! The mooing culprit. Brad was not nearby. I was glad there was nobody there to witness this slight descent into madness.
Only two more miles to our agreed camp. Cold running! Just as I got to our spot Brad showed up. We found a flat spot away from the raod, and hopefully from the cows. It was already freezing. I had to get into my sleeping bag ASAP as all my thermal layers were not doing it.
We were semi falling asleep when we heard a boom box. BLM land is great but it’s a bit scary as you just see bullets and bottles everywhere and you never know who might come out drunkenly riding an ATV in the night and squish you. We put on or headlamps and poked our heads up. We heard a very frail old lady’s voice ‘what are you doing?’ . Shows my bias to presume someone blasting music that loudly would be younger! She was worried we were going to interfere with the cattle. We promised we wouldn’t and we would be moving on ASAP the next day. She eventually seemed satisfied that we were not cattle thieves, and drove on. Yet again, I passed out. It was a bloody freezing night though.
Low: a bit of concern about where Brad was in the most remote place ever
High: cruising on a gentle gravel road up in the most beautiful place.