Silver City is one of those magic places. One of those places where no one really expects you to act like a grownup. One of those places that has an eclectic mix of old hippies, college kids, outdoorsy people, miners and ranchers.
And an amazing bike community.
This year, it hosted the first annual Continental Divide Trail Days festival, part expo, part talks about various trail subjects, part general kick-off to trail season. Scott and I were both a little shocked when the CDT Coalition invited Trackleaders to come set a booth up at the expo and promote the long-trail tracking that they offer to hikers.
Surely they knew that if we were there, we’d talk bikes on the trail to whoever would listen.
When we discovered that Gila Hike and Bike was hosting a group ride on the CDT in conjunction with Trail Days on Sunday, we were sold. Any chance to support bikes on the trail, we were in. Plus, we had a little bikepack we wanted to go on in the area, but that’s a different story.
We finished up work Friday afternoon, set an absurdly early alarm for Saturday, and pointed the van east towards the Land of Enchantment.
The expo was set up along the Big Ditch Trail and had a handful of booths. For a first-year event, they had some good stuff. Hikertrash was selling t-shirts and hats, Sirena and the Arizona Trail Association had a booth set up, the lady across from us was from a historical trails organization dedicated to keeping the history of old routes, think Lewis and Clark and Oregon Trail, alive. Talking to her sparked some ideas for sure. We got to meet the great Jerry Brown, GPS track-keeper of the CDT and other long trails.
Scott set up a fairly to mostly janky booth, but really, given that we’d decided to go somewhere on the order of 48 hours before departure, I’d say it was pretty good. Talked to a lot of hikers using SPOTs, the Grant County Search and Rescue booth was just across, so they wandered over to talk unit reliability. One random guy informed us that ‘Those devices don’t belong anywhere in the Wilderness’ followed by ‘You rode the trail? Did you do the Wind Rivers?’ ‘No, that’s Wilderness.’ ‘That’s like going to Paris and not seeing the Louvre!’ I wanted to reply, ‘That’s okay, the best part of Paris is the street-side crepe carts, not the tourist-infested sights’ but I figured this guy was grumpy enough.
I got to man the ATA booth while Serena went for a walk. It was all fine and dandy until a reporter from Las Cruces came over and started asking questions. After correctly answering a few questions (The trail is 800 miles long. It goes through the Grand Canyon), I eventually had to punt and ask her to come back when Sirena was back.
This is my, ‘Oh geez, come up with something good, she’s taking notes!’ look
When all was said and done, we moved on to Goal 2 of the trip – Ride bikes.
We’d gotten the recommendation to ride Cherry Creek to the top of Black Mountain and flip it, skipping several miles of CDT that we could also use to descend back to the car. Take Cherry Creek, it’s better trail, they urged us.
I’ll give you one guess which trail we took back down. Rubbly in parts, but all in all, a fairly low BS factor, given that it is, after all, CDT. We’d had to skip this section of trail last summer due to the Signal Peak fires, which have still left some areas of CDT closed.
The next day, we met up at the Hike and Bike for an amazingly reasonable 11am ride time. Martyn was leading the ride, his two kids in tow, and Cat showed up as well, which worked out well for us as we’d get a personalized tour of CDT South, as the locals call it.
At the trail head, Martyn, nearly ready, told us to ride ahead since he’d be moving slower with the kids. Cat took off. The kids took off after her, deaf to the calls of their dad to wait. Scott and I shrugged and took off after them. Those kids can shred!
I asked Addy how long he’d been riding. He very matter-of-factly told me that he’s been riding since he was three, and he’s seven now, so he’s been riding for four years. I was impressed. He didn’t want to stop at the three way where our slightly-more-grown-up group would split up from the really-not-grown-ups.
I sure hope our ride isn’t over yet
Cat, Scott, and I continued on to freshly built trail, newly designated as CDT, built by the local mountain bike trail building gurus with mountain bikes in mind. It was glorious.
We paid a visit to a trail section called ‘Where unicorns are born’ before looping back on old CDT to the Hill of Death that led to the Meadow of Life. I love the trail names in Silver.
It was the perfect little ride on new CDT. Big thanks to Cat for the tour! It’s neat to see mountain bikers taking care of and building CDT. The more people who love that trail, the better.
We finished with a quick stop to the grocery store for some bikepacking grub (does anyone else get embarrassed by loading up a cart full of crap instead of good food and taking it to the checkout?) and pointed the car out of Silver. There was much left to ride, and we’ll be back, but we had more CDT that needed exploring and a favorite house in a favorite NM town that needed a visit. And pie, pie needed to be eaten.
We made it to our remote trailhead in time to watch the sunset from the back of the van. NM might even have AZ beat for sunsets. I’ve yet to see a dud. Sleep, then ride. That was the plan, and the plan was good.