A Monumental Time in the Desert
Every January, the Trail Warrior Project tackles a part of the Monumental Loop around Las Cruces, NM. The past two years we did the northern loop, which goes up through Hatch and is a great ride. The entire Monumental Loop is about 250 miles and makes a figure 8 that intersects in Las Cruces. This year, we decided to tackle the Southern Loop, which leaves Las Cruces and goes down almost to El Paso and stays in the desert the entire time. It is much flatter and sandier than the Northern Loop.
We left our vehicles at John Carter's house at the foot of the Organ Mountains. John died a few years back, but his family supports us and lets us do stuff there just like when John was around. They are a great group of friends and of course they love veterans.
After helping the guys pack their stuff on their bikes at John's casa, we headed out on about 13 miles of rough single track before making camp the first day. The trail was extremely rough, and it tested our load out on each bike. We lost several water bottles and cages and bags kept having to be re-strapped as well throughout the day. We made camp close to Anthony Gap after what turned out to be a long day in the saddle, even though we had only been 15 miles or so. A brave (or bored) group of guys went to the local town on bikes to get water and a few burritos. These guys were from Michigan and were craving some Mexican food! They rolled in right before dark and we already had a campfire going and welcomed the much needed water for camping that night and morning.
The next day was set to be a long one, 57 miles to camp and primarily in the sand and all in the desert. We stopped in Anthony to top off water bottles and grab a quick burrito before heading out in the desert. We made good time that day, but got split up due to one guy bonking. He did make a full recovery after slowing down and eating and drinking a lot and the second group got to camp right behind the first group. There was a water source there we filtered water from and made camp in the small brush close to the water for a morning fill up.
The last day was to be about 40 miles, a lot of downhill, quite a bit of pavement and good gravel roads. We got lucky and ended up with about a 40 MPH tailwind into town that was amazing. It was great except for the 3 mile stretch by the Rio Grande heading into town. We made it back to John's, tired and feeling accomplished. After packing our bikes, we all went to the hotel, got cleaned up and headed to a local brewery for a nice meal and to have a mission debrief. It was an amazing trip and we hope you can join us on one soon! Next January, we are doing the whole 250 mile Monumental Loop and should take 6 or 7 days! This April we are doing a Portales, NM to Lubbock, TX overnighter and a 5 or 6 day trip from Coahoma to Fredericksburg if anyone is interested. Sign up on trailwarrior.org.