Well, it won’t be a white Christmas for us this year…
But how could we begrudge the distinctly unwintry weather enjoyed during our Solstice Family Campout, down in southern New Mexico’s Organ Mountains – so named for their distinctive, cylindrical granite flutes that jut out from the parched expanse of the Chihuahuan Desert.
Although by no means a ride of Herculean proportions, it was a thoroughly enjoyable one none the less – a 40 mile loop from Las Cruces, using segregated city bike lanes, gravel roads, and a service lane back into town. As much as anything, it was a chance to spend time together – and a bite size pit stop en route to El Paso, TX, where we’re spending Christmas. (For anyone unfamiliar with regional geography, Las Cruces lies north of the border town of El Paso, which itself is just a concrete wall away from Ciudad Juarez in Mexico… Of most interest to bikepackers, EP is within a bus ride’s distance from the Sierra Madre’s mighty Copper Canyon…)
But back to the campout… Our one night under tarp was spent in BLM desert, in a clearing along the Sierra Vista Trail. No shortage of fine views either – the glittering lights of Las Cruces before us, and the Organ Mountains behind, the last ripples in a range running to the east side of the Rio Grande’s rift valley. Earlier that day, we’d ridden up into the Dripping Springs Natural Area and enjoyed sunset views across the valley, the crepuscular light catching on dust devils dancing across the desert floor. The next morning, we hopped on Bayler Canyon Road, stopped in at the quirky, homely Space Mural Museum, before battling into a headwind along the service road next to Highway 70 (also a designated bike route) into Las Cruces to complete the loop.
Given the warm weather in southern New Mexico (T shirts in December!), Nancy took charge of Sage-toting duties, thanks to her trusty Troll and the Yepp Maxi child seat she uses around town. Knowing I’ll be soon returning the Jones Plus I have on loan (review forthcoming on Bikepacking.com), I figured I’d make the most of this superbly plush bike, and tow our Tout Terrain Mule, packed high with gear, sustenance and water.
That’s it for now… Happy Festivitizing!
Oh – if you’re viewing this on a reasonable size screen, click on the pictures below for more expansive, 1200px images
If you would like to keep up with where I am between tardy blog entries, I keep my While Out Riding Facebook page more regularly updated – along with posting extra photos and gear ponderings. Occasionally, I post pictures on my Instagram feed. And if you haven’t overdosed by then, there’s also a While Out Riding Tumblr edition, featuring many images that don’t make it onto the blog.
Thanks to Las Cruces locals Jesse and Eugene for their local knowledge and route ideas!