There’s something magic about the full moon. There’s something even more magic about a full moon in the desert. Seeing that I’m in the business of seeking out magic in all corners of life, it was only fitting that I spend the full moon in the desert, outside, fully immersed in all things magic. We’d known that my Spring Break 2013 trip would coincide with the full moon, so we’d had this bikepack planned for nearly four months per our newly formed tradition of doing something amazing on each full moon together.
I used to think that going out bikepacking always had to be somewhat of a production, route planning, bike loading, fiddle-farting around with stupid details. This time around, we didn’t even have to go to the grocery store before hand. The only minor detail, figuring out a route that could be done in six hours of total riding. Six hours may be a lot elsewhere, but in the AZ chunk, easy miles are hard to come by. Plus, there was a little trail that I was falling madly in love with every time I rode it, so I wanted to go back and experience more of her magic.
But one route was too long. Another route was too short. Six hour loops in the AZ desert were proving to be challenging to find. And then Scott offered to ride the shorter loop and shuttle the car so I could ride the trail section of the longer loop. Offers like that don’t come around too often.
We left the house at 2:30 in the afternoon, pedaling by 4:30. We made a pit stop in Sonoita to check out the store and while oogling the fried chicken, the woman at the counter told us that she’d pegged us as ‘vegans from the tree of life’ and then gave us each a jalapeno popper along with our burritos.
It was too easy. Too simple. Too perfect. The sun set beautifully.
The moon rose as we rode the high ridge of the early miles of the Canelo Hills.
Darkness fell. Magic rose.
We eventually found ourselves a secluded little bivy spot a little ways off the trail and we sat in shorts and short sleeves, marveling at the warmth of the desert. There was no need to crawl straight into sleeping bags. No need to put on giant down coats. No need to try to do everything quickly to stave off the cold. Our dinners stayed warm until the last bite. We worried about our dessert melting instead of freezing.
We played with cameras, lights, stared at the moon. After only three hours of riding, we felt like little kids camping out in the backyard. I half expected my mom to come out and check on the ‘kids’ to make sure we were doing alright and not afraid of the dark.
The moon stayed bright all night, illuminating the mountains miles and miles away. When the sun rose, I already knew what the landscape looked like.
We pedaled, hiked, and pedaled some more through the beautiful landscape of the Hills until the turn off point for Scott’s short loop back to the car. He escorted me to the top of the next hill and sent me on my way for another 14 miles of blissful trail to the town of Patagonia. I rolled and rolled and rolled, marveling at the fact that four years ago, I was to afraid to mountain bike on my own, and now I was perfectly comfortable going out on a 14 mile stretch of rugged trail just a few miles north of the Mexican border by myself with only a little red line to guide me.
Let me tell you what I think of bicycling. I think it has done more to emancipate women than anything else in the world. It gives women a feeling of freedom and self-reliance. I stand and rejoice every time I see a woman ride by on a wheel…the picture of free, untrammeled womanhood.
—Susan B Anthony
I got off route twice. I took lots of pictures. I found the Tree of Life.
I arrived in Patagonia within minutes of when Scott had predicted I would to find him waiting for me, having pre-scouted all the meal options in town. I arrived giddy. In love with everything. Especially the peanut butter chocolate pie that we found in the coffee shop. Like everything else, it was simply divine.