Trail Mile 146.0; Green Valley, AZ
I slept a bit past dawn today, the previous night’s wear pulling on me. A slow-rousing start got me back on route and out and heading miles north away from the proximity of the border. To my left, the Baboquivaris stretched out and Kitt Peak with its observatory came into view. A few miles later, I curved right to stay on Poso Nuevo Ranch Road. I made a phone call to Janna (finally in reception) and we both laughed about the craziness of last night. A call to my family showed that my mom thought I had gotten swept up in an immigration raid and was taken to a detention center. Harrison for some reason thought I got shot. Awesome.
I peeled eastward and passed the crumbling remains of an old ranch. A blue flag stripped and waving caught my eye and I made my way around back where a giant water tank with a spigot could be found. This was the humanitarian water station that No Mas Muertes ran. I topped off my supplies and explored around the building before heading off. The grasslands fell away as dry cholla-scrub replaced the scenery with red dirt and panned Earth I would not want to be stuck in during a rain. The ascent continued throughout most of the morning. Although rugged, the route became worthy dirt track and fairly easy to navigate, alleviating concerns I had from the agent’s responses to my route here.
By noon, the road crested a massive and gradual saddle stretching between the awesome-looking Cerro Colorado Mountains on my right and the much taller Sierrita Mountains on my left. The saddle seemed like a massive high-elevation plain studded with prickly pear, yellow/red dust, and mesquite. To the far east rose the 9,000+ ft. Santa Ritas. The valley below held Green Valley and my stop for the day. I began drifting down the now well-graded dirt road, walked pushed open a gate through an abandoned ranch (but with a still-working trough of water(!) for future use), before lazily pedaling down miles and miles of gradual descent. At one point, I came upon a large herd of wild horses browsing vegetation and filling the road. A skinny stallion stood sentry. I talked to him and edged my bike slowly forward, hoping he would lead his herd away but he just stood his ground and stared, leaving me to wait them out.
Eventually they moved into the brush and I continued my downhill for several miles until turning left at a parked Border Patrol car onto a paved road that I believe actually went out to Arivaca. I turned left, passed through a Border Patrol checkpoint, and finally came though a small unincorporated town that had a gas station/mercantile and a restaurant across the street. I stopped, went in, got two bottles of Gatorade Zero (now the day was fully heated up) before I made my across the street past a herd of quads parked out front to the Longhorn Grill. A super-cool iconic-looking cattle skull stood as the restaurant entrance. Inside, I got a bison burger and salad plus tons of ice water. Fed, I left and crossed under the I-10, joined a frontage road, and then jumped on the Juan Bautista de Anza singeltrack trail to head north along the floodplain/riverbed of the Santa Cruz River.
The singletrack here is beautiful, smooth, and flat. It stretched between thickets of mesquite and open green grasslands filled with spring flowers. I passed several people out birding before I was fed into the bed of the Santa Cruz River and had to forcefully pedal/push the Karate Monkey through 2 miles of straight-up sand. By 5 pm, I exited the river, swung a left to connect to a frontage road, and picked my way through Green Valley. Exhausted after 2 nights of little sleep, I found the cheapest hotel and checked-in. Now, new of the coronavirus had really reached me. My email, texts, and phone calls revealed my school was closed for the immediate time and that states were closing restaurants. I was able to grab some food for the evening by walking across town before everything shut down. Back in the hotel, I took a long shower, drank tons of water and Gatorade Zero, reorganized gear, and passed out hard in bed.