Chiricahua Century

20Apr12

On Tuesday, April 10th, I (Bryan) snuck away on a day off, to attempt a sub 24 hour ride through and around the Chiricahuas. It turned out to be 26 hours and about 110 miles. I left our cabin at about 8:30 am left the Monument and headed up Pinery Canyon. The morning was gorgeous and traffic free. Before long I was back in the Coronado National Forest and slowly gaining elevation as I approached Onion Saddle. This would be the high point and I wanted to get it out of the way early in the trip. As I switched back my way up the pass the occasional car and Border Patrol unit passed me by but it was pretty quiet other than that.

Leaving the park and heading up Pinery Canyon

Pinery Canyon road

Freshly graded road in Pinery Canyon

Forest service road 42 heading up to Onion Saddle

The view back down Pinery Canyon and out onto the Sulphur Springs valley

The views were long and the air was crisp in the morning light. It took me just about two hours to ride the sixteen or so miles to the top. Once there, I sat and ate a banana, had some water and then started to make a quick descent down the other side. I was headed to an old mining town called Galeyville which I wasn’t sure still existed but I had to find out.

The descent itself was raucous and made me smile the whole way. There were numerous stream crossing and the occasional big water bar that I caught a little air on.  Eventually, the road came to a split – uphill to Portal or downhill to Paradise. The choice seemed obvious. Now, there isn’t much in Paradise – 12 full time residents, an old truck, an adobe cabin and maybe one business, The George Walker House which is a small bed and breakfast (err.. you cook your own breakfast but they provide the food). If you are a birder this is the place to stay.  Jackie, the owner feeds birds in her yard and you are welcome to sit and tick off your life list.

Rolling with just rear Ortliebs and a handlebar bag

Looking out at the "boot heel" of New Mexico

The road ahead

The split - right to Portal and left to Paradise

Old Truck

Old one room adobe cabin

After turning back from Galeyville, which was completely gone I found a small bridge over the Turkey Creek. I soaked my feet in the cold water, enjoyed the shade under the bridge and ate some lunch. By this time everything on me and my bike were covered in dust.

About five more miles I came to the the small town of Portal. A nice, small cafe/ lodge is located here and the whole place is for sale. I took a small break and then headed onto Rodeo, New Mexico. Rodeo is small town on route 80 right on the Arizona/New Mexico border. There are some small stores and businesses. I didn’t stay long as the heat was now in the 90’s and I was dealing with a head wind and a slight grade uphill. It felt pretty exposed after coming down out of the mountains.

Road to Portal, AZ through the polarized lens of my sunglasses

Store in Portal, AZ

Near New Mexico border

Store in Rodeo, NM

The next stop on the trip was 22 miles later at the Geronimo Surrender Monument in Apache, AZ. There was a small pavillion which got me out of the sun but gave no shelter from the wind. I ate some more food and then headed on. The wind was bringing me down a bit and there was nothing out here but me and the flowers. Somtimes bike touring makes you wonder just what in the heck you are doing but if you stay with it it all changes and better feelings eventually pour in. In another hour or so I was able to turn off the paved road and started up Tex Canyon. It felt great to ditch the headwind and be back on the gravel road. Again, I re-entered the Coronado National Forest and stayed on a small single lane road until a little bit before 7pm and then found a place to disperse camp near the base of Swede peak.

I was tired and the evening was quiet. Not one car had passed me  since I got off paved route 80. So nice. I saw one coyote running parallel to the  road. He stopped to look at me and I howled at him and he took off through the field. The sunset was brief and I cooked a little pasta, hung my food in a bear bag and called it a night.

Looking back at the Chiricahua Mountains and Portal, AZ

Geronimo surrender monument

Mexican Goldpoppies

Looking back toward Apache, AZ on Rt. 80

Back on gravel heading into Tex canyon

Tex Canyon Road

Conditions just right, sun is setting and the road is smooth

Sun setting on the Chiricahuas

Easy disperse camp site in Coronado National Forest

Bear bag up and hopefully safe

The next morning, I woke early with the wind and headed on toward Rucker Canyon. There was a campground where I hoped to refill on water. When I got there, there were no campers and no water. That was OK, I still had two liters left. The ride out of Rucker canyon was uneventful. Eventually I came back out into the Sulphur Springs Valley where I found pavement and a tailwind! I flew north and rolled back to the cabin at about 10:30 am on Wednesday.  Good to be back!

Morning ride heading toward Rucker canyon

Roadside meadow in the morning

Moon still high up as I head back to the Sulphur Springs valley

Yours truly

Pavement and a tail wind back to the monument

To interact with the route visit : http://g.co/maps/j76gr

Stay tuned for more of our low cost adventures!

Bryan

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6 Responses to “Chiricahua Century”

  1. you sound like you are itching to be back on the road! Good luck to ya!

  2. Hey Brian! Looks like a really cool trip you did. I can imagine you must of thought at time, “what am i doing.” I’d say your out makin’ some adventures happen! I really enjoy your story telling and also the stats at the end! I would have been nervous about get jumped by a lion ;)

  3. So I’m curious, is Geronimo Surrender monument exactly what your photo looks like or is there more to it??

    • 6 thrubike

      There isn’t much to else to it – a small covered area with a picnic table and a whole lot of wind!


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