7/1 Day Sixteen: Mimbres to Antelope Wells, NM (150mi) Bienvenidos a Mexico!
After yesterday's beat-down in the Gila, today's effort is relatively anticlimactic. That's OK, though. The weary Divide racer welcomes anticlimax at this point. The final 120-mile stretch is predominantly pavement. After an anxious pass through Silver City, the route's last 50 miles of dirt are smooth, sandy rollers across the upper Chihuahuan desert. Remaining time seems to decelerate as the visual monotony of Yucca and Mesquite--broken only by darting Jackrabbits--sweeps incessantly into Mexico.
The trail is eventually interrupted by human enterprise one last time as it scoots quietly under the east-west I-10 corridor to pick up the empty, heat-shimmering asphalt of lonely NM81. Finally, the cornerstone; the extreme reaches of the NM boot heel; a fitting place for a long trail terminus.
Concentration becomes labored as thoughts life after the Divide begins to pull you from the moment. As through the Gila yesterday, again the gamut of aches, pains and emotions course.
Despite baking 105 degree temps, the shock of impending finish spawns goosebumps--or maybe heat stroke. Fifty mile visibility taunts the rider as the miles tick off in slow motion. Objects in the distance grow larger at a snails pace. The parched wind buffets from 45-degrees like a giant hairdryer. It's hard to sit in the saddle. The anticipation hurts--the body no longer does. The mind anxiously thumbs various flashbacks. Joy replaces hardship. The thought of returning to civilization seems dubious for the first time the way anything institutionalized fears leaving the relative sanctity and shelter of the institution. For the Divide rider the woods have become safe, free of the rat race.
Soon the 10 mile marker signals closure. Then 1 mile. Is it a mirage? The racer sits up, the fatigue-humbled rider steps in. Pressure fades from the pedals. Maybe there's a brief over-the-shoulder glance towards landscape and experience past. National flags above the portal are taught in the desert wind. The wiley, mangy Border Collies used by Customs announce arrival. Its done.