45.3 Miles; White Gap to Las Cruces, NM
The full moon rose and stretched wide and bright in an arc shining through the tent. We slept long and hard after yesterday's rocky ascent up White Gap. Light streamed into the shelter as morning full glare indicated a late start. Packing up, we sped down dusty, rocky, rutted double track before ascending up a small hill all whilst threading the one non-wilderness strip in a landed of designated wilderness. We spilled forth onto the top of a hill with a paved county road leading back to Las Cruces. Flying down it, the miles rolled by. The rocky Las Uvas eroded away as butte turned to flat basin filled with creosote. One bend coming out of the Sierra de las Uvas revealed an incredible view of distant Organ Mountains proper to the south.
The county road stretched linearly and distant, twinkling out in its own perspective. But, we turned off of it to ride down some side country roads that were all sand and packed basin dirt. Large yuccas cradled the roadsides, framing the Las Uvas distantly under a rich blue high-desert sky. The plus tires ate up the sand and we passed through some fencing before rejoining the pavement. We wove back onto dirt and shot out straight across the desert towards the ever-growing Organ Mountains and the bowl of Las, Cruces. Here, the sand deepened greatly in stretches causing me to slow in my grind to 2-3 mph and even hike-a-bike.
The sandy double track joined a large and well maintained dirt road that seemed to trace an invisible gentle rim high above Las Cruces which sat gently sloping down below in the scooped bowl below the Organ Peaks. Then, the road decayed and plunged down into rotted red and white buttes and sandy washes that were stunning in appearance. After several hike-a-bikes through the sand, we came around a sharp corner and I wiped out in the sand so bad that I dislodged my saddle. I tuned the saddle clamp and sped down into some new neighborhood developments before reaching the Rio Grande once again. This time we sped south of it reentering the suburban outskirts of Las Cruces and the inner core of Le Mesilla, NM.
La Mesillia proved to be a gorgeous little historical community tucked inside adobe stucco homes and historic business outcrops. The city center was the site of Billy the Kid's trial, the signing of the 1848 Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo, and site of the Butterland Overland Trail (precursor to the Pony Express). We headed over to La Posta de la Mesilla, the last standing posta from the Butterfield Overland Route, now converted into a famous mexican food restaurant. We agreed to eat there and ordered rounds of New Mexcian Chile Rellenos. Stepping outside into the winter evening, the temperature began to drop as we pedaled north towards downtown Las Cruces. The salmon pink overtones of sunlight on cloud draped the sky richly as we rode across the New Mexico State University campus before grabbing some lodging nearby.