Days 48-50: Playing in the Sandbox

Listen - Days 48-50: Playing in the Sandbox

Call it a quirk — or a downright weird thing that I do — but I like to jokingly refer to my "future self" to help me procrastinate important things. If you’re looking for ways to improve your procrastination skills, this is a great place to start.

"I don’t have to do that now. Future Clint does." See. See how easy it is to kick the can down the road with that.

That’s the same technique I’ve used for this upcoming section of the trail. Future Clint will eventually have to cross the desert where there’s no water, or people, or cell service. I won’t have to do that, that’s Future Clint’s problem.

Well, the one issue with this totally legitimate problem-solving approach is that it doesn’t necessarily solve the problem. In fact, it makes the problem seem marginally bigger when you’re eventually staring it in the face.

Seasoned as I was from previous days on the trail, Future Clint was now Present Clint and Present Clint was feeling very anxious about the road ahead.

But first, smoothies and dogs. Then we’ll talk desert.

Day 48 - Juicy Jitters

Taking the recommendation from my fellow Great Dividers and the US Forest Service, I decided to reroute to Cuba. I went online and searched for deals on plane tickets but decided to purchase a boat instead. Much safer investment.

No, not the country. Cuba, the town that was about 60 miles away via paved road.

There’s not a single store along this road, except for one small café. There I saw a truck packed with more dogs than I could ever hope for. The picture below shows about half of the pups, but while some were camera-shy, they were all very good dogs.Great Divide dogs in a truck

Keeping with the theme of camping in people’s yards, I found myself at Juicy Jitters, a smoothie/espresso bar/ skate shop/ campground. It was owned by Hally and Vince; Hally who is a fellow New Hampshirite!

Juicy Jitters - Great Divide Trail
The smoothies were delicious, the complimentary doughnuts were definitely homemade, and the pitbulls wandering the property made for the perfect campground atmosphere — the loud 18-wheelers that trucked by at 2am, not so much.

Now, on to the desert.

Day 49 - Breaking Bad

This is it. This is the big day that’s been looming over my head from the start. Today, I start the 120-mile stretch from Cuba to Grants straight through the desert. There are no natural water sources and the trip includes a 5K ft climb before you enter Grants. Not to mention the “peanut butter” mud that can make the road impassable when wet — remember, this is fun… right?!

Water conservation is my biggest concern. Aiming to make this a two-day trip, I opted to forgo some extra snackage to make space for 2 liters of additional water. I also bought soup for the evening so I wouldn't have to use water for cooking. Lastly, I drank as much fluids as I could in the morning. I might have to pee, but at least I’ll be hydrated.

My plan was to put as big a dent into this section as possible on day 1, leaving me less to tackle before the climb on day 2. Alternating between sections of great and downright terrible road conditions, I pedaled for nearly 8 hours straight before making camp. I will tell you, there is only so much “History of Rome” podcast that one can take before you slowly go mad — for me it was between the death of Caligula and wondering which U.S. senators are more competent than a horse (there’s a knee-slapper for you history buffs out there).

Before we dive into day 2, I will show you my desert campsite. Trust tree — I’m about 20 feet from the pile of sand they call a road, but the pictures don’t show that and that’s all that counts.Great Divide Desert campsite

Day 50 - Enter Sandman

What they don’t tell you about the desert is that sure, it gets cold at night, but it also gets really windy. This manifested itself with me waking up at 2am with a mouth full of sand that blew into my tent. Talk about a visit from the sandman, am I right? (Boo!)

I quickly learned where all the sand came from (yes, I know, “the desert”) — the road, which was about as loosely packed as a Miami Marlins game (zinger).

Unfunny jokes aside, this road sucked. Every few minutes I had to pop off the bike, push Apollo forward, then hop back on because the road was simply unrideable. The “impassable when wet” signs were clearly a misnomer. This was just impassable.

I’ve never been so excited to see pavement when I finally found the road again. After about 15 miles of riding, I crossed onto historic Route 66 where I did in fact get my kicks. I stopped for a gas station burrito — which has officially replaced my burger obsession — and cruised along the historic highway all the way to Grants.

With the desert conquered, we have just a few more days to go before this journey is over. In this final leg, there’s stormy weather, drug smugglers, and a Pie Town to look forward to.

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