Across Continents

Ken's Blog

Elegant solution

December 27th, 2011

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Elegant solution. Which I liked. A lot. A certain beauty. Very appealing to a deeply logical mind. Quietly pleased I’d crossed the 8,228 feet Emory Pass. True, it had been a challenge. Camping far below zero in Mimbres. Then eighteen miles of uphill, mostly first gear, a meagre eight inches for each rotation of the pedals. Descending gingerly, great care required to avoid mishap on black ice lurking in the sun shadow. And bitter wind chill.

But the point was I’d managed the traverse without drama. Waiting for a weather window to head out of Silver City. Short day – little over thirty miles – to re-position ready to start the climb fresh the next day. Deliberate. Calculated. I’d known it would be cold overnight, just not expected it to be as tough as it had been. More focused on the daytime riding conditions.

Some might delight in battling up snowbound roads over the pass. Adversity head on. But I’m more interested in the long game. Not just today, tomorrow, but the weeks and months ahead. Stoic. Steady progress. More a tactician than a navigator.

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Wise choices

December 25th, 2011

Ken makes a brief stop on the climb over Emory Pass… Pleased he chosen to camp lower down the previous night

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Warming up

December 25th, 2011

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Next morning. 7.31 am. A little after sunrise. Lying in my down bag, what little exposed skin I had sensing the bitter, penetrating cold. Soon discovering coffee dregs inside my flask frozen solid. Soles of my boots encrusted with ice. The black metal water bottles bulging. I’d a plan to defrost them in the nearby restroom shower.

Wind chill had plunged the temperature far below the forecast minus eight Celsius. Sharp. I’d emerged from the tent around four for an unwelcome call of nature. Outer smothered with ice crystals. Quite beautiful in the moonlight. Brief check of my trusty steed nearby, making sure her tarpaulin was still secure.

Retreating hastily back into the tent, a strange warmth. Removing my jacket not unpleasant. Back into the sleeping bag, the outer quite cold. Quickly zipping it up, fumbling with the draw cords to leave only my nose exposed.

Despite the insulating mat it felt like I was lying on permafrost. A small inflatable pillow providing a little more protection for my head. Inside the bag liner I’d stuffed my winter gloves and wallet. Reliant on body heat to keep any moisture from freezing.

I’d lain awake for quite a while. Despite thick woollen socks my feet cold. Somehow wishing I’d been able to get into the foetal position, instead settling for pulling limbs close together, minimizing surface area. My body core was at least warm, and that was what really mattered. Wondering just how cold it was. Discovering later I’d needed to run my small aerosol of shaving gel under a hot tap before I could get it to function.

[Ken stopped at Mountain Spirits RV Park – just $5 to camp – astounding value for money – see www.mountainspiritsrvpark.com]

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Morning after in Mimbres

December 25th, 2011

Morning after… an especially nippy night.. in Mimbres

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Evening in the Laundromat

December 24th, 2011

Camp hosts Penny and George told Ken to make himself at home in the Laundromat. Escape from the bitter cold. So that’s exactly what he did…..

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Snow dusted desert

December 24th, 2011

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Snow dusted desert, close to Mimbres, New Mexico. At about 6,000 feet.

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At home in the Laundromat

December 24th, 2011

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Shorts probably hadn’t been the wisest of choices. Fine in the day when riding. But not camping in seven below. Or that was what’d been forecast for Silver City. Built-up areas tend to be a degree or two warmer. Not an especially apt description for Mimbres. Sure it was a lot colder here.

Stopping for the night in a small RV – recreational vehicle – park, I’d the blessing of the camp hosts to make myself at home in the Laundromat. Pitched my tent next to the tumble dryer air vent. Flashed up the stove inside for some reviving hot tea and my staple of instant mash and tinned something or other. The smaller electric heater barely seemed to dent the cold. Until I’d quickly headed outside to the tent to grab my map. Bitter almost beyond belief.

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Seven below

December 24th, 2011

Bitterly cold it may be – seven below forecast – but Ken finds there are quite a few compensations in a small RV – recreational vehicle – park in Mimbres

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Snowy desert

December 24th, 2011

Ken still struggles with the concept of snow in deserts. But not erectile dysfunction. Despite the wind chill…

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