Valley of Fires & The Rio Grande


Carrizozo, NM, is home to those nearest to the Trinity Site (World’s first atomic bomb exploded in July 16th, 1945) and is a memorable town for Paul & I. Riding into Carrizozo is best done without an airplane altimeter for we would have easily registered a ‘stall’. With heated bearings and wind crunched faces we made camp at Valley of Fires National Recreation Area. Picking the most scenic camp site on the reclaimed lava field we had our own private shade tree and small lava formed grotto.

We cooked our hamburg and made a fire in the stone-cold lava overhang. The sun set over the Pacific Ocean, 900 miles away, and the desert chilled. There’s something strange about the proud desert; A blank expanse where even nature shies from elaborate cultivation but instead sows seeds of true muscle and longevity. When at night, the desert cowers; Seemingly content, the desert is lost for hope of warmth. We blanketed ourselves in the magnificent expanse of luminous stars and sat by our fire. We heated the grotto and cursed the onset of the full moon and it’s ability to attract our attention only towards it’s intimidating glow.

With mechanical problems diagnosed in the cool morning light we went after a bike shop. A volunteer gentleman at the camp lent us the use of his pickup and we drove to Ruidoso, the southern-most ski resort in the United States. Looking west we determined we were officially surrounded by the Southwest region. We bought the National Audubon Society’s Field Guide for the Southwestern States and biked through a land separated from everything Paul & I were familiar with.

Deviating from a true pioneering sense we decided to cross the Rio Grande by bridge instead of attempting the ford. In doing so, Paul is now the farthest west in the United States that he has ever been. This is truly new territory for him and even for myself… well… everyday since New England has been ‘new territory’ for me; For that I am constantly thrilled.

About Clint Valentine

Clint is currently enrolled in two undergraduate degrees in Biology & Environmental Science at Northeastern University. He enjoys pursuits of endurance and distance which have included summiting many peaks in New England during winter alpine ascents, sailing the Atlantic in a vintage gaff-rigged schooner, rock climbing in five states including Oregon, and cycling 5,000 miles across North America. He has goals of pushing the envelope of his limits and combining his many outdoors interests into one big trip. He has a passion for photography and hopes to one day produce a documentary for a round-the-world tour.
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