During my mid-June Biketour in 2010, in which I had departed El PasoTX-USA after my last Summer workshop (it was a late morning exodus due to an excessive amount of coffee consumed during the 2-day session, which kept me awake most of the night, thus impeding decent rest for an early off-and-away), following a route North on US54 to Oro GrandeNM (food!) to AlamogordoNM (food!), East on US82 to High RollsNM (food!) to CloudcroftNM (food!) to MayhillNM (food!) to HopeNM (food!) to ArtesiaNM (food!) to CarlsbadNM (food!) to Whites CityNM (food!) to Guadalupe NP (food!) to Dell CityTX (food!) to CornudasTX (food!) & back home in El PasoTX (food!). Of course, rest is just as important as food when biketouring, but my historic pattern is that whenever I get tired--usually every hour or two--I stop, and then camp wherever possible at dusk, preferably close to a community that has--food! (You expected different?) Anyway, since I got a late start, camping wherever was just that, and, unfortunately, not often close to any easy source of nutrition. So my first night was between US54 and the fence North of Oro Grande, which brought our diligent guardians of the perimeter, the US Border Patrol. In fact, FOUR squad cars with red lights swirling parked on the shoulder adjacent to my campsite slowed much other traffic, undoubtedly curious about some unusual event in a desolate region. However, one of the agents recognized me/my Doublevision from earlier, when I was in NewmanTX, but a supervisor inveighed with "...we still better see some documentation...", which I have no problem with--I'm legal and carry the necessary documents proving as much. My next night was between the guard rail and canyon wall on the East side of the only tunnel; although anticipated, I was not disturbed at all. Arising early in the morning, I still had to wait for the Sun to rise an appreciable amount so any (motor) vehicles behind me would not be blinded while pedaling East. By mid-day, I had passed through High Rolls and was ascending toward CloudcroftNM when I rounded an easy bend to find an immense barrel announcing "HOSTEL"! As a life-member of HI-AYH, I was mightily surprised because this was the first-ever it had come to my attention. Naturally, I pulled into the rough drive and parked alongside the large, elegant barn-like structure with it's broad, full-length porch. This was FANTASTIC! However, it was mid-day and I was certain I could continue the sometimes steep 6%+ grade (tragically, I obeyed gravity the previous day prior to the tunnel, not due to the incline, but due to loose gravel on the blacktop) to Cloudcroft.
Even though I hadn't overnighted in this exquisite hostel, a tour made me pine for returning. It was quite clean, with a couple of private rooms, dorm rooms, excellent kitchen, separate bathing/toileting rooms, inviting common room with books, games, easy chairs/sofas, and a flat-screen TV! Sometime, hopefully soon, I'll be back...!
Fast forward 3.5 years later; it is Thanksgiving2013 and our offspring were sprung. I was quite excited in particular about my annual Irene's Pedal, which was planned to go East from El Paso on Montana Avenue/US62-180, in a route that was the reverse of my 2010 Summer biketour. My imminent departure was scheduled for Friday, 22NOV2013, after work, and I knew my distance would get me to the the picnic/rest area (where I'd camped before on biketours) at the base of Hueco Mountain, then putting in several full days before my wife motored out to meet me on Thanksgiving Day, which should be Cloudcroft or maybe even farther, depending....! Well, it depended upon the weather; NOAA was broadcasting a severe Winter storm throughout the region, and ten months earlier I had ignored a similar NOAA broadcast--I ended up with a seriously truncated biketour, stopped by several inches of snow-ice-headwind, saved by Carlos of Horizon CityTX (he gave me/Doublevision a lift back to El Paso) and knowing that Winter on the high plains, especially East of Hueco Mountain, is often 180 . opposite West of it!
So, paying close attention this time, I delayed my departure for the night, resolving to go in the morning. However, I delayed again because NOAA repeated the warning; and one more day due to the same conditions. I was so ready to go by Monday, but had missed the pedaling window by too long, so I re-routed on a shorter trip, this time in the Valle de Juarez, Mexico.
After returning home, my wife & I motored the route I had planned to pedal, and, tell you what, I was glad I didn't biketour that way. Although the roads were clear once we ascended Hueco Mountain, it was so evident that the NOAA forecast had been accurate. Ample snow/ice remained in the shady side of US62-180, particularly as we motored up US82 toward Cloudcroft.
We had thought we might camp out in the Lincoln National Forest, but knowing that we'd have to make camp in an increasingly bitter cold twilight had no appeal whatsoever. However, the saving grace to this two-day adventure was the Cloudcroft Mountain Park Hostel. Motoring downhill, I hoped it was still there. Rounding another bend, this time from the East, I saw that familiar "HOSTEL" barrel and we turned in. It was GREAT! Even though we didn't have reservations, we were the only people there, other than the owner/operators. I was an old friend welcomed back; we thoroughly enjoyed being out of the stiff wind, wrapping up in our sleeping bags to watch a movie on Directtelevision. In fact, I slept little--SyFy was running a James Bond marathon....!
- Official Description (provided by the hotel):
- Beautiful Location in the Sacramento Mountains, in Southeast New Mexico, 28 Acres of land backs up to the Lincoln National Forest with unlimited hiking. Close to Ski Apache and Cloudcroft. 25 Miles to White Sands National Monument and 10 miles to Alamogordo. Two Bunk bed rooms, two Private rooms, Family room common room with TV, and a fully equipped Kitchen. Bunk beds $19 a night Private room $35 a night, Family/Group $60 a night. Please call for reservation and booking instructions. Cash only at the Hostel or sent us an email, what kind of room you like to book and how many nights you will stay. We will send you a Pay request and you can pay via credit card or PayPal. Thank you for staying with us. ... more less