“Life is a garden, not a road.
We enter and exit through the same gate.
Wandering, where we go matters less
than what we notice.”
― Kurt Vonnegut
Our winter was but a shadow of it's normal self, but it was winter. Impatient humans that we are, before one season's ended we're ready for the next.
So it was that we drove away from our own little slice of heaven and headed for the Sonoran desert.
We had reason to both celebrate and take some time off, and given a choice Jeny's first (and 2nd, and 3rd) preference would always be to bikepack.
I'd ridden a handful of trails in the desert north of Oracle, but had never been able to complete the loop that Scott raves about. We set that as our primary goal for this trip.
Into the Box.
Secondary goals included catching up on some rest, and sleep, and being outside somewhere wild and beautiful each day.
I failed miserably on the sleep part (as I almost always do) but the rest was easy given where and when we were.
The elusive Area 52.
Although we poked around the edges of A52 a fair bit while searching for the route, and the exit, we felt that we had scarcely scratched the surface of the riding to be done on this formation.
More miles of shandy jeep roads than I care to cover in a day led us to a few miles of wash bashing and then, finally, onto Ripsey.
Greg had been here a week earlier and had forewarned us that the poppies were 'out', and we were ecstatic to arrive with afternoon light and some gas left in the tanks.
The entire climb of Ripsey is challenging, with a few exclamation-point switchbacks to keep you honest.
Honey light and sumptuous breezes kept us in the saddle longer than maybe we'd planned to ride that night. It was hard to stop, so sweet were the views and temps around every next corner.
Eventually we carved out a little home amidst the succulent sentinels and slept the sleep of the exhausted.
Somehow the flora and illumination the next morning were even sweeter than the night before.
Mid-day temps sent us down to the Gila River to re-up on water, and then, laden heavily, we began the climb into the Gila Canyons in earnest.
Largely mellow grades prevail and the tread is wide and non-technical enough to allow you to take in the unfolding grandeur. Occasionally, a steep stinger would require that we burn a match or two to stay on the bikes.
Difficult to put this climb into context with words. It just keeps going and going, not merely up but *in* to the heart of the canyon system. And I'm not sure you can get a sense for how expansive this system is from anywhere other than on the ground, slowly crawling your way up it.
Just shy of sunset, tired, sore, sunburnt and recharged, we closed the loop back where it had begun 3 days previous.
Pre-production Surly 29+ tires were my choice for the trip, and proved far more comfortable and adept than expected or even hoped for. So much so that I started, and finished, a drawing for a chassis to better exploit them while climbing away from the Gila River. Stay tuned on that.
My bike looks lightly loaded, and in truth it was if you discount the 5 liters of water in the frame bag. Double secret punishment training, or something like that...
Thanks for checking in.