Update: Turns out it is all just a good story. Managed to get back on the highway safely the next morning. First stop: steakhouse. Read on for my story on getting lost, typed out over the last 24 hours. Had to wait for reception again before I could send.
This is an account of the dumbest thing I have ever done. Note the present tense. I am nearly out of fuel and 6 or 7 miles of rough terrain away from the highway and have no reception. I am lost. Well not lost, since my GPS is telling me exactly where I am, but I have no idea how to get back. Sorry for any worrying this is causing. I am lost, but safe and not worried... yet. Hopefully, this will all just be a really good story.
I decided to venture off the highway onto a side road for a few miles to have a picnic like I have done a few times before along the way. Road started off paved, then just compacted. That's okay I said, I have my GPS to get me back, and all seems fine. Found a spot to stop and had a small sandwich and an apple I packed and enjoyed the remote New Mexico scenery. I had crossed a few forks in the road along the way, but again my GPS can get me back. Okay time to turn back, figured I would drive over to Roswell. My GPS is set to avoid rough roads, but it must not have known as it started to take me on rougher and rougher roads. This can't be right, reset to shortest route out. Before I knew it I was deep in the middle of ranch country. The more I tried to get back to paved roads, the worse they got. I am now literally in fields and mountains. The GPS claims there are roads here, but really they are just tracks more suited to an ATV or a lifted ranch truck. I tried back-tracking but that didn't work. The "roads" all look the same, and now some aren't on the GPS at all. I tried just using a bearing, but keep running into cattle fences. I crossed a freaking stream and a couple dried river beds, all still on the "road". Thanks Garmin. This is not terrain my bike can handle, sure a BMW Dakar or KLR would be bouncing along just fine and be out of here within the hour but I am in trouble. I am now inching along rocks and past boulders. Like taking a street bike to the Bruce Trail, yet I am still on a road according to my GPS. I dropped my bike, these roads are brutal. I was going slow and the tire slid out on an incline, so just cosmetic damage to the luggage. Two hours pass, and I am now only a mile closer to the highway. Of course I can't see it over the mountainous hills.
I shouldn't place all my blame on Garmin, maybe I should have turned back sooner, while I could still find my way back. Anyways, the fuel light has been on for quite a while so I know I am close to empty. Even if I get back to the highway, I am 30 miles to a gas station. I would have been fine, but I have been idling along for hours and am now near empty. I had more then enough to make it to Roswell originally. I stopped my bike and climbed the nearest hill. I spotted some power lines and followed them with my eye around to see some buildings about a mile away. I left a note on my bike indicating my direction of travel, grab my knife, lighter, emergency water and few other things then headed towards them.
After about 45 minutes of walking I get close enough to see in detail what I've found. A couple of small abandoned houses, two tractors in good condition, a shelter for cattle (cattle included), an old Ford pickup that may work, and a new-looking trailer home that looks lived in, but no one is around. I assume the safest thing to do is wait near it hoping someone does live here. I can see a fresh jug of water on the counter in the windows at least. I am seriously thinking that if I am stuck here for the night this is going to be my safest shelter. There are power lines running to and from it so there must be more houses further away, but I can't see any so who knows how far the next set are. If I could get a gallon of gas and a guide to help me find my way out all would be fine. An hour of waiting at the trailer passes.
Going to walk back to the bike and see if I can figure out how to get it closer to this trailer. 2 hours pass. Walked half way back, found no passable route for the bike. A locked cattle gate separates the trailer from the bike. Turned back towards the trailer. I spotted another building 2 miles or more past the trailer in the same direction of travel. Should I be worried yet? Two miles up and down this terrain could take hours, and if it's a bust then it will be the same back.
I've made a plan. I've got fairly decent supplies here so I can afford to wait till tomorrow if necessary. Again, sorry mom for what I am sure will be panic. The trailer is connected to water as well, and I am able to get some by unscrewing the hose to the inlet on the trailer. I have done an inventory of everything accessible to me here. I've got an axe, plenty of wood and camping equipment in the unlocked storage bin of the trailer. No tent, but sleeping bags, mattress, hammock chairs etc. Searched everywhere that I would hide a spare key to the trailer door. No luck. Again, some gas and someone to follow to the nearest real road is all I need. It is now 6PM. I stopped for lunch 6 hours ago.
I've built a fire and will light it if I am still here when it gets dark. Fire is now going, maybe someone will see it. I really hope someone checks this place from time to time. 8PM, I have water and fire. Had a few drops of rain but looks like it will be a clear night. Tomorrow I think I will have to hike it out to get help. Mentally I am prepared for that now. Gathered enough wood to last me through the night. Man, did I mention how I really screwed up yet? I need help, but not search and rescue type help. Just a friendly rancher who knows the area and can get me safely the hell out of here. Despite my aversion towards camping I feel prepared to tackle the challenge. Those hours watching Surviorman don't feel so wasted now. 9PM and discovered passenger door of pickup is able to be unlocked. Keys are in the ignition and there are a few more on the ring, so I am going to check to see if any can unlock the trailer. Nope. At least it may be a possible place to sleep out of the elements. As far as being lost in the wild situations go, I am as about as well off as one could be with water, fire, shelter and safe place to wait. Sweet, some binoculars under the seat! Dammit, that other building isn't a building, but a large container probably for water. Local water tower? Possibly where my water is coming from as it is up hill. Shutting BlackBerry on and off between edits to save power.
It's now dark now and I don't think anyone will be here tonight but me. Have the sleeping bag out, should be warm enough. Can't see any light in any direction. There are some bright spots in the sky on the horizon of what I know to be towns 30 miles in either direction. I got thinking about coyotes and wondered if this was the right area for them. I didn't hear any stereotypical howls at sunset, but I can't hear the cows mooing either. What if they got eaten already? I will gather some rocks and grab that pipe to keep by me. There are too many cows left for them to be getting eaten all the time. Besides, there are fences everywhere and ranchers probably shoot any coyotes they see.
I have decided to move inside the pickup truck. You can drive yourself crazy thinking about things like that. I got onto the topic of mountain lions, pumas, and bears. Why isn't there a gun rack on this truck? Will let the fire burn out from the absolute safety of inside the truck. Door is now locked, figure that will keep out imaginary bears. I hope I wake up to an angry but understanding rancher knocking on the window tomorrow. The bench in the pickup is more comfortable than the picnic table that I was up on, glad I moved. Note: re-edit the above to make that the reason I moved.
Again, the plan in the morning will be to walk back to the bike, check it out, grab supplies and then trek south to the nearest source of help. Hopefully I will hit some people before getting out to the highway, as locals will be of more use. Also, will want to drop a quick line to family if I get coverage so they can stop worrying. Damn being lost and knowing exactly where you are at the same time. I really just want to hit send.