“Hi y’all folks, how u’re doin?”
“Where ya from?”
“Ah, I have a cousin in Sweden. That’s close to Holland, right?”
“Uh, sure, what’s his name? Maybe we know him…”
We left Tucson and hit the small roads to Silver City where we will be joining the Great Divide Mountain Bike Route (GDMBR), but not before we visit Wyatt Earp in Tombstone. On our way into town we pass the Boothill graveyard where many outlaws are buried underneath piles of stone overlooking the valley. Here we find the graves of Dutch Annie, the McLaury brothers (killed by the Earp brothers at the O.K. Corral shooting in 1881) and many ‘unknown’ outlaws. One grave reads that George Johnson was hanged by mistake in 1882 and the words: “He was right, we was wrong. But we strung him up and now he’s gone.” Poor guy.
We continue our ride into town and pitch our tent at the RV Park. After a shower we walk down the main street and find ourselves back in the 19th century. Cowboys are gathering around a saloon, ladies showing of their cleavages and carriages and horses parading down the street. Tombstone is tiny, but well worth a visit. But now it’s time for the Great Divide! A few more passes over mountain ranges and we have picked up the trail in Silver City. We start with a paved road, climbing up through pine forests and make it a short first day to stop at the USFS (United States Forest Service) campground, where we pump fresh water out of the ground and have a pasta dinner while a large group of deer slowly passes us by.
The easy part is over and the offroad begins with a steep, sandy and rocky climb. It’s very quiet during the day and we see more deer and a few foxes, but one thing we don’t see a lot is cars and other people. It feels great again, we feel the cool breeze, smell the sweet odour of the pine trees and the clouded sky adds to the drama of the amazing open landscapes we pass through.
At night we sleep at empty campgrounds or in the wild with a rainbow watching over us. To be safe we hang our food in the trees, since today we saw a huge black bear running away from us! At the Bearcreek forest station we meet Chris and Alex, father and son bikepacking the Divide. They are used to bears and tell us the black ones are just like big dogs, which you can chase away by throwing rocks or yelling. We Dutchies have no experience with that, so we have a bear spray within reach all day! Better safe than sorry!
Being in nature again lifts our spirits and we are having the time of our lives again! Ever since we left South America and entered the hot, humid and busy Central America we have been looking forward to riding the Great Divide. Knowing we would be camping again, riding offroad through forests and mountainous terrain, endless views over mountainscapes, being alone for days in a row, carrying food for a couple of days and finding water in bone dry New Mexico kept us going! We probably have said this before, but this is what traveling by bicycle is all about for us! And so far, the GDMBR has not dissapointed us.
This part from Silver City to Grants is bone dry at this time of the year and we need to carry quite a lot of water, since the streems are dry. The day before we reach Pie Town we have to refill using the windmills. The first two are out of order, but after about 60 kilometers we run into one which is actually working. We pass a huge bull, looking like a lazy wrestler guarding his cow mistresses and sneak over the wired fence to fill up on water. Fresh from the ground, we don’t even bother to filter it. Happy to have water again we ride on, only to find water falling from the sky an hour later! Totally soking wet we find ourselves a spot to camp and cook ourselves another great pasta dinner, finishing it of with a nice cup of coffee made with our tiny percolator. Outdoor life. A good life!