It’s a blustering night out in mountain New Mexico. Lightning out to the west, heavy cloud cover and gusting wet winds. The windows are closed for the first time in several months, cats are outdoors, but hugging the porch.
When I went into Bernalillo to get the tickets for the PB draw tonight I found myself in something of a time warp for a brief while. Driving along in the twilight I went a couple of blocks when this was sometime else, sometime a long time ago in my life, a time when warp and woof of long-time-ago friends were present. A couple of blocks of forgotten warmth for almost forgotten people, and back to the now.
Driving back up the mountain I got to thinking, maybe because of the time-warp thing, about a time in late winter when I was consumed with the Zuni Mountains as part of the Adams Diggings mystery. I’d been prospecting, before winter, an area on the west face where Oso Ridge is one with the Continental Divide, where the range drops off and is bounded by two paleo coral reefs parallel to the ancient shoreline forming two walls several hundred feet high with long canyons between the outer and inner one, between the inner one and the west face of the Zunis.
It had seemed a long winter. I had a serious case of cabin fever and I needed to get out there to look things over. But there was a good snowpack that year, so it was going to be difficult.
In those days I was driving a ’86 Mitzu Montero… best off road vehicle I’ve ever owned. I had a lot more confidence in that truck than my passengers had in it. I’d sworn with chains on all four wheels that truck would go anywhere a mule could go.
Pavement ends near McGaffey, and the road was okay. I could tell it was deep snow on the forest road headed west, but after a certain amount of argument from a lady friend of the time and a friend, I put the speed into it and let those chains carry me out on that crusty snow until my momentum ran out. When the truck stopped I was a quarter-mile further than I needed to be. Hopped out the driver-side and went up to the hips in crusty snow, though the truck, to all appearances was only up to the flat belly.
We threw out a tarp and picknicked there on that snow crust, then worked until evening digging a path back to a place where a couple of the wheels could touch the ground.
A pair of chains on the front wheels of a 4×4 and the poor old truck can use some judgement as to what it will get you into. But you put them all around, that truck will get you into places where it’s likely to be until snowmelt in the spring.
Occasionally you’ll run into one of those early in the spring, a truck some guy no smarter than me took somewhere it needed to be chained and beaten to go, sitting there stripped by anyone who wanted to pack anything out, use the hood for a sled to carry the valuables.
Ah well. There’s a story you really didn’t need to hear. Just drifting here, listening to the wind, the rain on the tin can over the roof vent, the sound of winter tuning up.