Lost Horizons: Taos, NM

Start in Santa Fe. Drive North until you feel your soul stirred, an unsettling deep in your bones. Stop. You found it. Taos.

Land of contrast. Land of Enchantment. Land of Entrapment, say the locals. A string of failed attempts to add slogan to this place precede us. Let’s not add injury. The place is. There is much. Go, you’ll see.

Greeted by ferocious spring winds we gut out a mountain bike ride first thing. Car legs are addressed, but we don’t claim enjoyment. Aggravated by the wind and weary from the road, we head to town and find our rented cave of a rental - a calm, dark, mosaic-lined relief.

Spring snow storms emerge on the forecast. Friday afternoon becomes our window for exploration. The dust-bucket adobe-walled bike shop owners share the local scoop. Their description, I’ll shortly see is fantastically understated. These are humble people.

50% gravel. Ride a cross bike. This section has traffic. Here you’ll have to walk. Don’t worry, it's short.

Heading out on the bike, again there are winds, but movement is the antidote to the place’s burning perfection. Pause the pot-stirring and it’ll boils over. But it may be the most incredible place you’ve never seen – when it’s not crushing you (but even then…).

Take a wrong turn en route. Wrong turns are constant here. Fitting.

Back on course, off pavement, the descent begins (did it not upon arrival?). Dumbfounding. Light. Canyon. Water. Snowy mountains. Spirit. Profundity.

The wind is cold and daylight a concern.

Hop off the bike, scramble over the boulders of a landslide scar with bike in-hand. Don’t slip. Stay alive.

Briefly pedal on pavement, cross the bridge, Rio Grande below.  Start the climb against better judgement. Pedal harder than necessary. Gasp the thin air.

One thousand feet up (air even thinner), crest the west rim of the canyon. The awe induces profanity.

In the distance clouds bloom from granite peaks. The great river cuts north indefinitely. Pinon and spruce hang on canyon shelves. The ever-present purple hue darkens, end of day. Pedal on. Head-sized boulders span the two-track. Conflicting messages return – pay attention! Look around! Stop in awe! Pedal harder! 

Human figures dot the horizon. Wilderness fades. Another bridge (1000 feet higher this time) turns to pavement and a road to town.

- More From Loren & Emma's Adventure To Come -

Images by: Emma Simonson
Words by: Loren Mason-Gere

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