Pushing out of the Gila back in July, under clear skies. Photo courtesy of Mitchell Clinton, a local Silver City photographer.
Lael pushed hard yesterday to get to Pie Town early, to get through the Gila, over the 8 mile section of the CDT, and into Silver City. But the weather had a different plan when a day with barely a 10% chance of rain turned dark and stormy late in the day, sounded the public warning system via cell networks, television, and radio. I received an automated message to my phone– the first ever– warning of heavy rain and hail, flash floods, winds up to 60 mph, and lightning. The warning area reached up into the Gila and south toward the border. The storm arrived to obscure a classic NM sunset, continuing until about 11PM and turning local roadways into rivers.
I watched Lael continue through the Gila roller coaster at night, knowing that most of those roads through the pines are underlain with granite, rocky and sandy, and generally well drained. Lael reached the pavement and turned up the CDT about midnight, presumably in continuing rain showers. Her progress was predictably slow, she camped late, woke early and descended the pavement from Pinos Altos to Silver City at about 6AM.
The airport in Silver City reported just under 3 inches of rain on Saturday evening. Regular lightning strikes persisted for hours.
I passed Lael on the paved road south of Silver City on my way to I-10 and the border, slowing to take a photo out of the window of my rented Hyundai. She was riding a series of rollers in the aero position, the back of her black t-shirt faded to a dirty blonde.
I have a cooler full of drinks, a big sandwich, two gallons of water, a bag of grapes, bananas, nectarines, and a box of cookies from the grocery store in Silver City. I will meet Lael at Antelope Wells later today. She will finish in less than 16 days, as long as the Separ Road– the final stretch of dirt– doesn’t hold any surprises from the monsoon.
Follow the yellow LW bubble on the Tour Divide 2015 Trackleaders page.