The whole area around Moriarty was going to be under a damaging wind advisory starting about 12 hours after we woke up in the morning, so we got outta dodge as fast as possible (which wasn't very fast, we were pretty wrecked from the night before.) Even beating the wind advisory, we still experienced pretty high winds but thankfully they were more often at our backs than not , so we hammered out the first 35 miles of pavement with ease. We transitioned to gravel over red clay roads through rolling ranchland where we we got to see some antelope fighting. As we entered a stretch of road that b-lined towards national forest we experienced a lot of road construction and direct sun that, mixed in with unchanging and boring riding, started for the first time all trip to become deeply demoralizing. Spirits were getting towards a low point when we passed a work crew standing around loud paving machines. One of the crew members gestured at the area around his mouth (where a beard would be) and shouted at us three scraggly, bearded fellows what I believed was "Been out here a while, huh?!"
But only I heard what he said, Kevin turned around and asked "what did he say to you?" to which Tony (who had seen the gesture but not heard the remark) responded, while mimicking the hand facial gesture, "I WANT TO SUCK YOUR COCK!"
10 minutes later, Tony found himself at the top of the next climb totally alone. Kevin and I had fallen way back because we were so consumed with uncontrollable laughter that we were unable to breath. Our moral had been tested, and thanks well times middle school humor, we were saved.
We finally entered the national forest in the late afternoon. The roads were rougher than we had experienced since T or C and due to issues with our native GPS maps we proceeded to get pretty off track. We pushed our bikes up the side of a mesa to find a barbed wire fence and no trespassing signs. We crawled under the fence and lifted bikes over only to find the road had disappeared over a sheer cliff. We ended up back tracking and proceeded to continue to hit dead ends at barbed wire fences several more times. Morale was again getting extremely low as we proceeded to ride in circles through a maze of forest roads and jeep tracks. We finally found the windmill powered well that provided us new water reserves but also indicated proximity to camp.
As much as in pains me to give extra credit to the goldenboy-boyscout, Kevin, he did an incredible job guiding us through the wilds of New Mexico. Tony and I were clearly getting irritable as Kevin and his GPS lead us around in circles in the pine forest against the backdrop of a quickly setting sun - but the truth of the matter is that Kevin crushed the navigation on this route. He and his GPS map lead us across over 500 miles of the most remote landscapes I have ever experienced and we spent no more than 2 hours the entire time temporarily lost. I know Kevin has more to say about testing friendships out on long bikepacking routes (florida, NM...) and I'll let him say it but the fact we three are better friends after this trip than we were before is incredible.
To find a landmark we had been looking for over the course of hours was an incredible moment. We refilled on water and proceeded to our nearby campsite. Despite the ordeal and 7:30 arrival time it was probably the coolest camp site of the whole trip. An incredible rock formation and a giant indentation in the ground.
Day 10 high point: campsite and windmill
Day 10 low point: our morale.