On the top of Cumbres Pass on the Colorado/New Mexican border, there is a sign that holds particular meaning to Todd and me. It states, “Welcome to New Mexico.” It had been a long time since we were there- 20 years. I was 42 back then and Todd 38. We were on bikes back then too but had our six and eight-year old children with us.
That was 1998. The year we finished the Continental Divide, which consisted of nearly 2,500 hiking with llamas. The CDT in New Mexico was not built back then but was mostly on the roads. Water sources were 40 miles apart and we could only cover 10 miles a day hiking with our young kids and llamas. And we sure couldn’t carry enough water for our family and the llamas. Other long-distance hiker friends, Leonard & Laurie Adkins, who did the CDT, suggested we go their route- mountain bike it. After all they said, “Self-propelled travel” was the most important aspect of covering the ground, and so we did. We switched out our llamas at the CO/NM border at this very sign atop the pass, for tandem mountain bikes with trailers and proceeded to the Mexican border.
The 10-mile downhill rush into Chama was our FIRST ride on those amazing bikes back in 1998. We loved it right away and said, “Hey! This bike riding stuff is pretty darn cool. We just covered a lot of ground in a matter of minutes!” And in 20 years, we have covered a lot more ground as we, as a family, adventured on many long-distance cycling trips.
It was strange to arrive at that same sign and milestone on our Great Divide Mountain Bike Trail ride this past July. Ten miles down the pass was the town of Chama and the END of our GDMBT ride. Twenty years earlier, it had been the BEGINNING. Together with what we covered 20 years ago we would have the GDMBT completed, starting in 2016 at Jasper National Park, Alberta.
Our kids were not present in person for this milestone, but they were in spirit. Mom and Dad wanted to revisit the Rockies twenty years later and see some of the same passes, visit some of the old friends who helped us with our llamas and our small children, stay in some of the same trail towns, and so we began the GDMBT two years ago. I wasn’t thinking “book” back when we started in Jasper NP in 2016, but there’s been enough there to write about to make a good one!
And now that the CDT has been built through New Mexico, in all fairness, Todd said we have to now hike that 700 miles to have completed BOTH the CDT and GDMBT- 2019! As we tucked our toes into our pedal’s cages and pushed off down the pass into Chama and the end of our trip, I thought, it HAS been a good ride- these 2600 miles on the GDMBT and the last twenty years of life. Here’s to the next grand adventure!
(Next blog up…”Starting ’em Out Right!- The Great Divide Basin with our son, Bryce”)
Posted in: Travel Story