It was nearly over. All that remained between us in Hachita and the border was a stretch on Highway 81, the Lonely Highway. Although I found “Lost Highway” to be more apt. Surely you know the movie by David Lynch. It is one of my all-time favourites. It starts with images of a highway, illuminated only by the headlights of a speeding car. David Bowie’s “I’m Deranged” plays along with it. In fact, here it is. It was playing in my head the entire time towards the border.
Deranged my love
I’m deranged down down down
So cruise me babe cruise me baby
(click Read More)
We were nearing Hachita, the last stop before the border. Bald, eroded mountains were on all sides. Small plants along the road sprouted strange thorns. The road was littered with grasshoppers. Sometimes you could spot a migrating tarantula, or a rattlesnake (most dead, some alive).
I think we passed the same Border Patrol car a dozen times. We cruised into Hachita where we were determined to find Sam Hughes. Now Sam Hughes is an interesting man. 82 years old, he’s lived in Hachita for 25 years. Hachita itself is more like a ghost town than anything else. As Sam said, if you’re young and don’t have a ranch, you simply have no business living here. I think he’s right. The store was closed. The cafe was closed. The saloon was closed. There is a post office with limited hours and that is it. Well, and there is Sam and his Mighty Bear Dawg, a cross between a chihuahua and something else — but with the flip of a switch he turns into a grizzly bear.
Sam is what you call a trail angel. CDT hikers and Great Divide bikers can camp on his lawn for free. And with his 1989 Lincoln Aircraft Carrier he performs a sort of taxi service between the border and a couple of nearby towns. He has just recovered from some serious surgery & health problems. 82 years old, still drinking beer, cracking jokes and smoking like a steam engine. More power to him, I say.
After camping in his yard, accompanied by the yip-yammering of coyotes, we arranged with Sam to pick us up from the border in his aircraft carrier and transport us to Lordsburg. So we went. The final stretch, on the Lost Highway. 72 kilometers of, I gotta say, sheer boredom. Immutable mountains to the east. Unchanging mountains to the west. Unmoveable mountains in front of you. Unflinching mountains to your back. A long, flat (truly flat now) stretch of highway winding through it. No clouds. No variation in landscape. No technical challenges. Just you and, if you’re unlucky (like we were) a strong headwind making things just a little bit harder for you.
There was some traffic; border patrol cars and shuttles. There were some animals; snakes, tarantula’s and millions of grasshoppers. But it was just something to get over with. With still more than 20 kilometers to go we were overtaken by Sam and Mighty Bear Dawg.
And about 75 minutes later, we rolled into the border station. Done. Over. Destination reached. We had a celebratory gummy cherry, took some pictures, and that was that.
No champagne, no beer, no party, unfortunately. Antelope Wells had nothing to offer for us. It was time to get to Lordsburg, to a little bit of civilisation. And what would happen next? Only Mighty Bear Dawg knows…
Day 68 (October 14th): Sam Hughes’ yard, Hachita – Antelope Wells (Mexican Border/southern terminus of Great Divide Mountain Bike Route)
Riding time: 3:33:10
Distance: 72,81 km
Amount climbed: 186 m