Monday, October 8, 2007
South Boundary Trail, Taos, NM
Yesterday, October 7th, Rou and I rode the South Boundary Trail in the Carson National Forest in Taos, New Mexico. We woke up early in Santa Fe and hit the road (in the car) for the 1.5 hour drive up to Taos.
We got to the bike shop parking lot as the sun was just starting to come over the hills, which was a good thing because to my Saipan-thin blood, it was FREEZING out! We had arranged a shuttle with the bike shop, and there were two other riders who joined us for the van ride up to the trailhead. It took about an hour in the van to get up to the trailhead which started at around 9,400 feet. As we arrived, the driver jokingly said, "The weather is perfect... to bad the colors couldn't be better." He was referring to the Aspens that were nearly at their peak of changing color.
The bright yellow trees were all around us. After getting everything adjusted off we started on what was to be a 25-mile, 4.5 hour adventure down the mountain back to Taos.
This ride is described as being "mostly downhill" but we quickly learned that mostly is a relative term. The first section was a narrow singletrack that slowly wound up to 11,000 feet ... and by the time we finished we ended up climbing 2,910 feet.
It was a hard way to start out, especially when your lungs aren't adjusted to the altitude yet.
But we knew the rewards were coming shortly! From the top of the trail,
we began the first descent, and it was all singletrack the rest of the way down.
We wound our way down through a pine forest which turned into a mixed pine and yellow Aspen forest, and eventually climbed back up to another peak where we had a beautiful 360 degree view. From there we had a nice long section of singletrack through the Apen and pine forest. The trail was clinging to the narrow edge of the mountainside and weaved carefully between the trees. There were some very fast sections with a lot of ups and downs where you could keep your speed up by pedaling a bit here and there...but you had to be careful because the trail was narrow and there wasn't much room for mistakes. To make it even more fun, every few miles we would encounter a large tree across the trail that had sticks stacked up on either side so the skilled riders could navigate over it without getting off the bike. Here's Rou deciding whether or not to navigate over one...
After an energy bar snack in a beautiful grove of Aspens, we continued on to what was to be the hardest section of trail that I have ever ridden in my life, and it really tested the limits of my riding skills, my concentration, and me new bike. But they all pulled through in the end! The last leg of the trail was a 45-minute ride down what can only be described as a rock staircase on a cliff. The trail was ridable for 25 meters at a time, then you had to sit WAY back in your saddle, hold your breath, and steer through the least dangerous section of rocks and you went down... down.... down the rocky trail. To put it in some perspective, all four of us were very experienced riders... and all four of us went down at least once on this trail. It was tough, challenging, and a blast in the end! We all survived uninjured and just a little bit bruised. All of our bikes got nice new scratches that will remind us of our epic ride down the South Boundary Trail. This was the perfect time of year to ride it... it was a little cool out but not too cold once the sun came out, and the Aspens changing color made it all that much more memorable.
Almost as memorable was our dinner that night. Rou and his wife Mary have a friend who is a professional chef. The chef Jean Luc and his wife Denise had us over for a dinner party at their house where he served among other delicacies, Wild Boar and Quail with Mole sauce served with tortillas. We ate outside in the chilly desert night air next to a mexican ceramic fire pit that was throwing sparks into the starry sky... My home in Saipan feels very far away right now!