Mexico to Canada on Dirt - The Continental Divide Trail

Discussion in 'Ride Reports - Epic Rides' started by bwanajames, Apr 18, 2017.

  1. bwanajames

    bwanajames Moto sapien

    Joined:
    Dec 25, 2011
    Oddometer:
    341
    Location:
    Colorful Colorado
    The Chihuahuan Desert

    To cope with July days on the Chihuahuan Desert, I was wearing a versatile Olympia jacket featuring four large zip-down panels (2 in front, 2 in back…) which cleverly rolled down to convert to a mesh jacket. But the key to the system was the evaporate cooling vest.

    While many of us may soak down a T-shirt in warm weather, the effect seems to last mere minutes. The quilted vest however, holds water like a camel, providing hours of relief. When it’s hotter than hell, this piece of equipment will elevate you to a tolerable purgatory.

    ChihuahuanDesert.jpg


    Cooling Vest.jpg
    #41
  2. calan818

    calan818 The CarMexican

    Joined:
    Apr 3, 2007
    Oddometer:
    1,664
    Location:
    Manitoba, Canada (6 months of snow)
    I am from Canada...all our gear is designed to keep us warm!
    #42
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  3. One Less Harley

    One Less Harley OH.THAT'S GONNA HURT

    Joined:
    Nov 16, 2006
    Oddometer:
    6,703
    Location:
    Bowling Green, Ky
    Doing the CDT South to North in August on a BMW R80G/S...keep the updates coming...
    #43
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  4. bwanajames

    bwanajames Moto sapien

    Joined:
    Dec 25, 2011
    Oddometer:
    341
    Location:
    Colorful Colorado
    Nearest Gas

    Coming back into the ghost town of Hatchita, a jackrabbit sprinted across my path. In my sun-baked state, I thought: “There goes the mayor…”

    Running on fumes, I made it to I-10 and pointed the bike east towards Deming. On the verge of pulling over to tap the gas can, an oasis comes into view.

    For those contemplating the CDT, the nearest gas to Hatchita appears to be a truck stop called Petro Deming, midway between 146 (road to Hatchita) and Deming proper.

    Petro Demming.jpg
    #44
  5. bwanajames

    bwanajames Moto sapien

    Joined:
    Dec 25, 2011
    Oddometer:
    341
    Location:
    Colorful Colorado
    Welcome to the CDT

    Day one was a trial by fire. After gassing up, I struck off to find Separ road – the first dirt section of the CDT.

    Two days earlier, winding down New Mexico’s enjoyable highway 64 towards Taos, I’d pulled over to snap a photo. Packing up, a shiny new KTM 1190 rolls up beside me. Onboard was a smart, seasoned 30-something rider and his spectacular girlfriend. Sharing my plan and wondering how the heavy adventure bike would feel, he replied with complete confidence, “You’ll get used to it…”

    After studying my GPS and its color-coded breadcrumb trail, I managed to find Separ road. It wasn’t hard-packed dirt, or gravel – more like packed sand. A mile into it, the weight of camping gear, tools, and lots of water was immediately apparent. It felt squirrely. Reality check time. Feeling a growing pit in my stomach, I wondered: And I’ve got 3,000 more miles of this?

    Continuing on, the shadows grew long and the skies ominous. At every point of the compass, atomic mushroom clouds were punishing earth with jagged high-voltage strikes with strobe frequency. It was spectacular and unnerving. Surrounded by lightning, there was no escape. In the eye of this amphitheater of savage weather, the wind picked up and rain began pelting my visor.

    Foolish to continue, I was on a dirt road lined with barbed wire and t-posts. With no other choice, I wrestled the wind, staking-out my flailing tent on a cactus-free patch just off the shoulder. Welcome to the CDT.

    IMG_0623_sig_crop_Unsharp Mask.jpg
    The next morning. Clear skies and growing hotter by the minute.
    #45
  6. Ruidoso Ron

    Ruidoso Ron Adventurer

    Joined:
    Nov 4, 2007
    Oddometer:
    68
    Location:
    Alto, NM
    You bet. Sorry! it is just that I am familiar with that stretch of highway.
    #46
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  7. hvilla

    hvilla Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Jun 25, 2008
    Oddometer:
    194
    Location:
    Aztec, NM, USA
    Looking forward to this...thanks for sharing!!
    :clap:lurk:rayof
    #47
  8. bwanajames

    bwanajames Moto sapien

    Joined:
    Dec 25, 2011
    Oddometer:
    341
    Location:
    Colorful Colorado
    Unamused

    Dinner last night consisted of trail mix. Same for breakfast. Clear skies at 6:00am. Comfortably cool, a meadow lark’s twitter ushers in the day. For all its recent fury, the desert is enveloped in tranquility. But as the sun peeks over the eastern horizon, temperatures escalate quickly.

    The view goes on forever, yet outside of the road I travel, there is not a trace of humanity. I nervously continue, noting I was more comfortable riding to Alaska. At least there, if I broke down, someone would be along soon. Here, I’m not so sure.

    Airing down the tires helped. At least I didn’t feel like I was ricocheting off every pebble, and the wider footprint helped crossing sand washes. With a tank of gas, the 1150GS tips the scales at 549 lbs. Add to this the Jesse boxes, lights, crash bars, spare gas (1 gal) and an estimated 50 lbs of tools & camping gear, and we’re probably talking 650 lbs. (A hernia waiting to happen…).

    Crossing paths with a large tarantula, I put down the sidestand. While they appear slow, poke them and they can really move! I tried to photograph him smiling from my gloved hand, but he didn't share my enthusiasm.

    IMG_0625_crop_sig_Unsharp Mask.JPG
    #48
  9. Gale B.T.

    Gale B.T. Long timer

    Joined:
    Jun 14, 2005
    Oddometer:
    1,829
    Location:
    Pagosa Springs, CO.
    Great report, hope you enjoy Northern NM as much as we do on the dirt. The CDT from Chama , Platoro Summitville , Indiana MT, Del Norte is lots of fun and quite fast. Food at the Lodge at Platoro and especially at La Garita , just N of Del Norte is PRIMA!!!
    gale .Pagosa
    #49
  10. ladyknieval

    ladyknieval Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Mar 29, 2010
    Oddometer:
    269
    Location:
    Ackley, Iowa

    I,ve been in New Mexico when the spiders are in migrating season, thousands slaughtered on the roads, disgusting and sad at the same time. I made sure not to let my dog out of the truck for some time! Following, I hope to do something like this route on my DR soon. Never my heavy GS! Lol!
    #50
  11. One Less Harley

    One Less Harley OH.THAT'S GONNA HURT

    Joined:
    Nov 16, 2006
    Oddometer:
    6,703
    Location:
    Bowling Green, Ky
    Just curious about how deep the sand is/was and if it was much problem??? How much experience do you have riding sand??? I'll be doing this in August and NM, conditins I'm not sure about. I have VERY little to no riding experience on sand and I'll be on a loaded R80G/S, not heavily loaded but with camp gear and food and a few other things.
    #51
  12. bwanajames

    bwanajames Moto sapien

    Joined:
    Dec 25, 2011
    Oddometer:
    341
    Location:
    Colorful Colorado
    One Less,

    Before doing this trip, I got together with a fanatical dirt riding buddy on some of his favorite single-tracks featuring a lot of sand. They always say to get on the pegs and lean back to unload the front tire. But with an 1150cc engine under you, your weight shift doesn't seem to make much difference. The best tip I've heard is to use the engine's power to unload the front tire by blipping the throttle every 1-2 seconds when going through sand.

    Airing down makes a profound difference.

    I don't want to get ahead of myself with the story, but the sand got much worse on the next leg of the journey. Stay tuned... :ricky

    BJ
    #52
  13. One Less Harley

    One Less Harley OH.THAT'S GONNA HURT

    Joined:
    Nov 16, 2006
    Oddometer:
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    Location:
    Bowling Green, Ky
    Well guess you'll get to filling me in by August....LOL..thanks for the writeup
    #53
  14. Irons593

    Irons593 Adventurer

    Joined:
    Mar 15, 2015
    Oddometer:
    59
    Location:
    Rockford, IL
    Loved AK and loving CDT so far. Keep up the great work!!! As always thanks for sharing.
    #54
    bwanajames likes this.
  15. WidowsSon

    WidowsSon n00b

    Joined:
    Jan 25, 2016
    Oddometer:
    1
    Location:
    Toronto, Ontario
    Although I'm sure you're getting used to the sand by now, I've found on my R1150GS that lower gears and more gas works very well in sand. As your previous tip noted, keep the front suspension unloaded, and you should float over it. It works until it doesn't. Safe travels! Can't wait to read more.
    #55
  16. Golden955

    Golden955 Been here awhile Supporter

    Joined:
    Jul 28, 2016
    Oddometer:
    182
    In!
    #56
  17. bwanajames

    bwanajames Moto sapien

    Joined:
    Dec 25, 2011
    Oddometer:
    341
    Location:
    Colorful Colorado
    Silver City

    Approaching Silver City, the trail climbs 1500 feet, and with it, a dramatic change in terrain. Sandy soil gave way to rocky hardpack. I began seeing lush Hackberry trees in arroyos, then a pick-up truck – the first vehicle since leaving I-10 the day before. Then a ranch. Before long, I spotted highway 180. The buzzards would not be picking my bones today.

    At 5,895 feet, Silver City, a former Apache campsite and childhood home to the Wild West outlaw Billy the Kid, sits on the doorstep of the 3.3 million acre Gila National Forest. As I rolled into this town of 10,000 people, I felt no small sense of accomplishment - I’d finished the first leg of the CDT.

    Silver City.jpg
    #57
  18. bwanajames

    bwanajames Moto sapien

    Joined:
    Dec 25, 2011
    Oddometer:
    341
    Location:
    Colorful Colorado
    Pawing through my aging Jesse panniers, the lid was askew. Hmm… It seems I’d lost a hinge pin. At the local hardware store, I was lucky enough to find roll pins of the perfect diameter. Tapping it in place, duct tape (always carry duct tape…) went over the remaining pins to prevent loss.

    IMG_0627_crop_Cartoon.JPG
    The old Coca Cola bottling plant in Silver City. Mural by Stout Elementary students. Right next door is Don Juan Mexican Food Drive Thru. There may be more elegant restaurants in town, but for the ADV rider on the go, Don Juan’s is tough to beat!

    Don Juan Mexican Drive-Thru.jpg


    Gila-Cliff-Dwellings.jpg
    I didn’t get a chance to go here, but you may enjoy a side trip to the nearby Gila Cliff dwellings. Built by the Mogollon People in the 13th century, archaeologists have identified 46 rooms in the five caves on Cliff Dweller Canyon.

    It's not far off the northbound CDT.

    Gila Cliff Dwellings.jpg
    #58
  19. chudzikb

    chudzikb Long timer Supporter

    Joined:
    Jul 17, 2016
    Oddometer:
    1,278
    Just found this one, I knew that "screw the boss" title would have some consequences! Sorry about your job, enjoy the lemonade that you are making from the lemons you are dealt in life.
    #59
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  20. bwanajames

    bwanajames Moto sapien

    Joined:
    Dec 25, 2011
    Oddometer:
    341
    Location:
    Colorful Colorado
    Chudzikb,

    Just for the record, my determined “damn the torpedos, full-steam ahead…” attempt to maximize the Alaska experience had nothing to do with my getting canned.

    In the name of consolidation, upper management had for some time targeted the Colorado and Alabama office for closure. About 75 people were effected. I was actually offered a generous relocation package to Columbia, South Carolina. But, as an avid bowhunter, fisherman, skier and motorcyclist, there is a reason I’m in Colorado – despite the growing population, it is heaven.

    Plus, being on the East Coast would mean very little contact with my remarkable son and gorgeous granddaughter, who are in town. While flirting with financial suicide, I concluded that I could more easily replicate my job in The Rockies, than I could replicate my family and the Colorado lifestyle on the East Coast.

    In the words of Thoreau: “Sometimes money costs too much…”

    BJ
    #60