The rise in elevation brought more moisture and vegetation, shrubs gave way to trees and eventually forests of juniper and pinyon pine. Beautiful snow covered hillsides abutted the roadway, closing in small roadside vendors selling Apples and trinkets. Most shops were closed in this, the cold winter season. Following the old path of a railway once used to haul timber in the 19th century, mountain cuts, a tunnel and even the remains of an old trestle mark the history.
The few photos taken on this triumphant climb remain on my point and shoot. Not once did I stop in fear that the little motor couldn't make speed again at such an elevation and grade. When the road tipped at Cloudcroft, I pumped my fist in the air in celebration! The guy at the cycle shop said it was all downhill from here.
A quick stop in Carlsbad for water, food and gasoline and it was time to camp.
Using Freecampsites.net, I spotted a BLM area about 10 mi north of Carlsbad Caverns known as Dark Canyon. Arriving just as the sun set, it quickly lived up to it's name...but not before a beautifully painted southwestern sunset. Two nights in a row!