Over the mountain

“So, Gandalf, you try to lead them over Caradhras. And if that fails, where then will you go? If the mountain defeats you, will you risk a more dangerous road?”
– Saruman

We are proud (and tired) to announce that we made it over Emory Pass! At 8,228 feet, it is the highest point on the Southern Tier. The pass was one of the ride-enders we’ve been worried about – our map advises you not to ride it in winter. Apparently this year has been hot and dry, so the pass was clear, but we still saw snow, frozen waterfalls, and a lot of warning signs like “ICY” and “UNPLOWED”.

We assuaged our anxieties by deciding to conquer the mountain with garbage calories. We brought a package of marranitos, some hostess cupcakes, chili mango candy, and two boxes of off-brand pop tarts. I’m sure, metabolically, that the third pop-tart isn’t doing much, but the sugar provided the psychological boost we needed to keep grinding.

Riding over the pass was just like riding over a very big, very long hill, which happens to have vertiginous views and its own micro climate. I was happy to discover that my legs and bike handling skills were enough. I even enjoyed the winding descent, which was fun, not the terrifying ride I had built it up to be. The hardest part of the day was actually the extra 1,000′ foot climb out of the Mimbres river valley at the foot of the mountain, in late afternoon on tired legs.

We still have many miles, and other mountains, between us and San Diego, but I’m just starting to feel like we might actually make it.

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