I didn’t write this, but I could have!
July 29, 2014
Farewell to Alpine, AZ
I woke up in the middle of the night, and I looked out of the window of the motel. It is always the most amazing sight to me because beyond the window was endless darkness. Above, despite the clouds of the evening before, there was the infinite blackness of the sky filled with countless stars. It was quiet and dark, very peaceful. I thought then that I should remember that moment in the coming months of work, stress, and turmoil. I knew it would be the last time in a long time that I would see the night sky over beloved Alpine.
When the day dawned hours later, the sky was clear. As Hal and I walked to breakfast, the air seemed washed clean by the previous day’s storm, and the sun shone bright and clear. After we ate, we walked up to the little thrift shop and I found a pair of western boots, blue ones, that were the exact thing that I was looking for. The price was $3, and they fit perfectly. I also got some tops, too, but the boots were the highlight.
Sadly, though, the fun was coming to an end. We loaded up the car, then put the bikes on the trailer, and said good-bye to our favorite place. It may be a couple of months before we will be back.
But, our riding was not quite over yet for this trip. We drove to Eagar, found that OHV trail that we’d seen the day before, parked at the staging area, and unloaded the bikes.
It is an out-and-back trail, theoretically, but we knew it intersected with FR285 if we had to “bail.” We didn’t know exactly what to expect on this trail. What we found was a fairly technical trail that had us working for a good part of it.
Right at the start, there was an immediate steep grade with rocks and sharp turns There was no warmup, which would have been nice. I felt like I was thrown right into riding hard without sort of “easing” into it. And it didn’t stop there. It was rocks and tight turns for about two miles right up to the top, climbing very steeply. We stopped up on top, and looked down at the car, which was a tiny speck far below, where we’d left it.
View from the top:
I thought after that it would be fun and not so much work, but then we had to descend a long rocky drop full of “baby head” rocks. It reminded me of that time we were riding near Globe and all of a sudden there we were, right in a rocky, steep downhill. Oh well, the more I rode, the more fun I had. It was almost like how I used to ride my mountain bike, and I absolutely loved that. Lately, I have not had much time to ride the mountain bike on the trails that I love, plus it’s been too hot to ride locally, and I found I really miss it.
On the trail:
I was keeping an eye on the sky, though, because as usual the thunderstorms were moving in from the south. We were not riding as fast as we usually do, and I wasn’t sure where the intersection with 285 was. I figured it could not be too far, but we needed to get off the trail soon. It was getting later, we had to get home, and the thunderstorms were moving in.
Then the trail got really fun, a “rollercoaster” through forest, but the trail was still rocky. I think those who planned and made this trail ought to go ride at McDowell Mountain Park and get a feel for what mountain bikers enjoy, because dirt bikers enjoy the same thing. Smooth roller coasters that dip and turn are the best because you can ride through them very fast.
Me riding the fun part:
Soon I could see through the trees that there was an unpaved forest road below us. We paralleled it for a while, then popped out on a side road that led to the 285. We’d made it! Since we could hear thunder rumbling closer and closer, we rode fast on 285 to the 74, then back to the car. Just as we were tightening the last tie-downs attaching the bikes to the trailer, the rain started to fall lightly. We were lucky, and our timing was excellent!
Dirty bikes when we were done:
We drove back through Eager, stopped in Springerville again at Western Drug, picked up a few candy bars for my brother-in-law, and then, sadly, our last summer trip was over and we were officially headed home.
It was an uneventful trip home, and soon we were back in the heat. I cried as I left Alpine, knowing that I will probably not be back until at least October. Until then, I will keep that memory of the beautiful peaceful night sky, and look forward to the next time I am able to be there in Alpine to see it again.