Sunday

Summer Series Adventures: Gila Overland & Gila Legends Expedition

This Summer, New Mexico Backroads will be guiding two separate overland-based tours through one of the Southwest’s most rugged and remote regions—The New Mexico Gila.

Summer 2017 Gila Overland: Friday, June 16th through Sunday, June 18th | 3 Days | Approximate Route Distance: 180 to 225-Miles | Approximate Elevation Range: 4,175 to 8,250-Feet

Summer 2017 Gila Legends Expedition: Monday, August 21st through Friday, August 25th | 5 Days | Approximate Route Distance: 375-Miles | Approximate Elevation Range: 4,300 to 9,600 ft. 

Ready for your next great adventure? To request full tour details and registration information for the Gila Overland and Gila Legends Expedition, email NMBackroads@gmail.com

Route Preview: Visit the NMBR’s New Mexico Gila photo gallery for a preview of the Gila Overland and Gila Legends Expedition experience. LINK - goo.gl/UsrcF6

Thursday

NMBR Gear Review: AEV Edition Silky BIGBOY Handsaw

Forget the Gas Fumes, Chain Oiling, Broken Axe Handles & Subsonic Wood-chips 

When safely manageable, a fallen tree across the roadway should not be reason enough for rerouting your adventure. Over the three two guide seasons, New Mexico Backroads [NMBR] has utilized the AEV EditionSilky BIGBOY folding handsaw for tree and brush clearing duties. For nearly a century, Silky has been producing high-quality saw and blades in Ono Japan—a community renowned for its steel-forging artisans and ancestry. Today, Silky’s product line remain modest and true to their heritage with a variety of specialty hand saws and limb choppers for landscaping, forestry, and carpentry applications. Silky’s handsaws provide a safe, simple and effective alternative to cutting tools/methods that require gas, electric, or excessive brute force. 

The BIGBOY features a low angle curved 14-1/5-inch (chrome plated and impulse hardened) alloy steel blade with 5.5 serrated teeth per inch. The rubber coated handle provides an easy to grip surface while still ensuring a firm and comfortable hand-feel. The unique arched handle and blade, paired with the saw’s patented laser cut serrated tooth pattern, makes fast and low-effort work of trees trunks and branches up to 12-inches in diameter. Weighing in at less than a pound (450 grams) and measuring less than 15-inches in total length when closed, the saw is ideal for including in an overlanding field kit. The saw has one minor flaw that should be noted for safe operation. Wear leather gloves wile opening the BIGBOY. When closed, the blade’s center teeth are slightly exposed where the blade does not fully seat into the handle stock. The exposed teeth could cause injury if the blade is opened with bare hands. Overall, the Silky BIGBOY provides a well-built and easy to use tool for those adventurists willing to clear the trail ahead. 

Notes from the Guide: Handsaw use should go [hand-in-hand] with personal protective gear (including leather gloves, eye protection, and long-sleeves clothing), two or more felling wedges, a rubber mallet, and a pry-bar (for wedge/cut manipulation). Open or unsheathe a saw only once you have arrived at your work area. Keep your fist aid kit a stone’s throw away and ready for [possible] injury management. Consider what a tree will do during and after cutting such as where it may roll or how it will spring if bound pressure suddenly released. Saw responsibly. 

Wednesday

2017 Overland Expo West Based Expeditions

2017 Ghost Divide Expeditions [GDE17] 

2017 Overland Expo WEST based expeditions professionally organized and guided by Jake Quinones of New Mexico Backroads 

Ghost Divide Expedition [Original] – Overland to the Expo - Sunday, May 7th through Thursday, May 11th, 2017 & Ghost Divide Expedition II – Overland from the Expo - Monday, May 15th through Friday, May 19th, 2017 

GDE 17 Invite & Preview: 

Attention all 2017 Overland Expo West bound Overlanders, Adventurists & Nomads! For immediate release! NMBR announces the 2017 Ghost Divide Expeditions! If your prospective 2017 Overland Expo WEST trip involves copious amounts of pavement, consider airing-down, engaging 4WD, and taking the path less traveled with New Mexico Backroads. Due to high demand, NMBR will be guiding two separate five day [500-mile] GDE expeditions for 2017. Register now to reserve your adventure! Visit the NMBR’s New Mexico Gila photo gallery for a preview of the Ghost Divide Expeditions experience LINKED HERE 

The Ghost Divide Expeditions Experience: 

This May, NMBR will be guiding two separate 500-mile expeditions that will traverse New Mexico and Arizona’s loneliest backroads. The Ghost Divide Expedition [Original] will lead to the 2017 Overland Expo WEST; the Ghost Divide Expedition II will lead from the 2017 Overland Expo WEST. Both Ghost Divide Expeditions will follow the same route and cover three unique areas—Gila National Forest, White Mountains, and Mogollon Rim. Over two-thirds of the Ghost Divide Expeditions route will be comprised of unpaved backroads. The Ghost Divide Expeditions will provide a demanding (yet rewarding) experience—the days will be long, the terrain will be rugged, and the pace will be brisk. The Ghost Divide Expeditions will require participants to be self-supportive with regards to vehicle, equipment, provisions, meals, and supplies. All nights will include camping and enjoying the company of fellow overlanders, deep in the backcountry. For those that join in, the only guarantee is that they will conclude their adventure with new friends, dirty rigs, big smiles, and an accomplishment that will make their fellow overlanders envious. 


2017 will mark the 6th year New Mexico Backroads has guided expeditions in connection with the Overland Expo WEST; this year’s route will be the longest, roughest, and best yet. The Ghost Divide Expedition route will include a diverse range of scenery, history, terrain, and backroads found nowhere else in North America. Landscapes and terrain will include desert, grassland, chaparral, canyon bottoms, wildland burn scars, and dense forest with elevations ranging from approximately 4,250 to 9,575-feet. Road types and conditions will include washboards, two tracks, primitive non-maintained, graded, mountain shelf, dirt byway, and (least of all) pavement. The Ghost Divide Expeditions will provide outstanding vistas, historic landmarks, and wildlife viewing opportunities (including Mexican grey wolf territory). During the overland based adventure, NMBR will cover a variety of topics including area history, vehicle maintenance, overland tool kit assembly, driving techniques, vehicle dynamics, and other 4WD-based skill building subjects. 

For the Ghost Divide Expeditions, New Mexico Backroads seeks the most self-sufficient, open-minded, and good spirited overlanders. 


Where & When:  

Ghost Divide Expedition Original - GDE “Overland to the Expo” will take place in the week leading up to the Overland Expo; Sunday, May 7th through Thursday, May 11th, 2017. Participants will meet the morning of Sunday, May 7th in Southern New Mexico; the exact time and departure location will be provided during the GDE17 registration process. 

The Overland Expo WEST begins the morning of Friday, May 12th and ends the evening of Sunday, May 14th. 


The Ghost Divide Expedition II - GDEII will take place during the week following the Overland Expo WEST—Monday, May 15th through Friday, May 19th. Participants will meet the morning of Monday, May 15th in Flagstaff, AZ (at the Overland Expo WEST venue); the exact time and departure location will be provided during the GDE17 registration process. 


Planning & Preparations

The Ghost Divide Expeditions will require participants to be self-supportive with regards to vehicle, equipment, provisions, meals, and supplies. Services or re-supply of any kind, including cell signals, fuel, food, water, or anything civilized, will be unavailable for stretches of up to 225 miles or more if re-routes occur. Please note: Experiencing below freezing temperatures and snow may be possible along sections of the route. 
Over the past decade, NMBR has written a series of informative overland travel based articles with topics ranging from field kit assembly, to vehicle maintenance and upkeep, to equipment and gear advice. These articles, paired with extensive checklists and instructions, will be provided to registered participants to serve as a solid foundation for what to expect, how to prepare, and what to bring for the adventure. During the Ghost Divide Expeditions pre-trip planning and preparation period, NMBR will be available to provide expert opinion and feedback to registered participants for any questions or concerns related to getting ready and gearing up for the adventure. 


During the Ghost Divide Expeditions, NMBR will revisit many of the topics that were covered in the pre-trip period with related in field demonstrations and discussions. The self-sufficiency and skills building aspect of NMBR’s guided expeditions and overland adventures challenges and prepares participants for their future 4WD based endeavors—to go boldly, prepared, and with confidence. 

What past Ghost Dividers are saying about the experience

"Just finished the Ghost Divide Expedition II with Jake Quinones, our guide at New Mexico Backroads and I just can't say enough of what a great time I had. The trip was seamless, the scenery and backcountry was just absolutely beautiful. But our guide made all the difference in the world. His knowledge and history of all the areas were outstanding, making the places we saw come alive. I never questioned his capability or his professionalism at any time. I would and will travel with NMBR many more times in the future! One trip off the bucket list. Now for the rest..." - Debbie W., Northern Arizona 

“This was my 2nd trip with NMBR. Will do many more, I hope. Jake runs this like it should be run. Great guy and knows the area. Long days and lots of driving makes sleeping at night easy. One of the best parts of the trip is It brings you together with people that like the same thing as you. Great guide and great people make this trip worth going. Got to see parts of NM and AZ that not many people get to see.” – Pat B., Arkansas 


Ghost Divide Expeditions Features

TCT Magazine - Writer and photographer Phillip Jones recounts his experience on the 2015 Ghost Divide Expedition LINKED HERE (GDE story starts on page 6) 
Motus - Zach Berning, Digital Editor at Motus, previews NMBR’s 2015 Ghost Divide Expeditions LINKED HERE 
Revolution Expedition - Adventurist Terry Baker recounts his experience on the 2015 Ghost Divide Expedition LINKED HERE

Get Registered:
Ready for your next great adventure? Email nmbackroads@gmail.com for full Ghost Divide Expedition details, pricing and registration information.

About New Mexico Backroads' 4WD/Overland Guiding Services: 
USFS Authorized Overland Outfitter/Guide - New Mexico Backroads provides expedition and overland guide services for adventurists seeking rugged 4WD routes, unparalleled scenery, and professional guidance in the backcountry. 


Whether you’re a novice overlander or have completed multiple expeditions across the globe, NMBR will provide you with an adventure that suits your comfort level, experience, and 4WD vehicle. In the time leading up to a NMBR guided adventure, participants are provided with extensive preparations and information on how to prepare and what to expect. The self-sufficient aspect of NMBR guided adventures challenges and prepares participants for their future 4WD based endeavors—to go boldly, prepared, and with confidence. 

New Mexico Backroads is a U.S Forest Service permitted/authorized outfitter/guide that provides services in the Apache Sitgreaves National Forests, Carson National Forest, Coconino National Forest, Gila National Forest and other southwesten USA regions.

Saturday

Jim Taylor at Bosquecito


Jim Taylor stopped to ask if I needed help while I aired up my tires near Bosquecito. In the miles leading up to his stop, every loose piece of steel in his truck and trailer could be heard; clanking in defiance of the rough road. Jim owns and operates a trash hauling business that services the rural communities surrounding San Antonio, New Mexico. His handshake was like a vice-grip and his unflinching gaze was of equal strength. The area lowlands had flooded during the summer monsoon, leaving miles damaged and sand covered [paved] roads, and debris in trees as high as six feet.  Deep tracks in the soft shoulder revealed the hardships of those that made the mistake of going off course. When Jim passes stragglers, he stops and asks them if they need a wrench, a tug, or a ride.  He's seen it all [good and bad] in the decades he's traveled the maze of backroads that connect his route. Through our conversation, he told me about growing up in the area, having a family, starting a business, and watching his kids move away to larger towns. He also told me about the wars, families, fortunes, and tragedies that shaped the community's rich history. Jim was kind enough to let me capture this image before we parted ways. - Bosquecito | Socorro County, NM

Wednesday

New Mexico Backroads’ Full-Size Solution – The NMBR Prospector


Fall was beginning to set in; the grassy hills were golden and the air was cold. I had departed New Mexico under darkness, watched the sunrise over Texas, and now charged across the Great Plains. My ambitions were to make the 1,700-mile trip to American Expedition Vehicle’s Michigan facility within 40 hours of departing the Borderland in NMBR’s brand new RAM Power Wagon. Like a small-town kid road tripping to Disneyland, I was excited [understatement]. The purpose of the trip? I would be delivering the Power Wagon to American Expedition Vehicles for a full Prospector build to include AEV’s lineup of RAM Trucks (2500 and 3500) parts. The hypnotic mile markers and the Great Plains’ vast landscape caused me to reflect on the experiences and thought process led to NMBR’s acquisition a full-sized truck and the decision to have it outfitted by AEV.
In May of 2015, New Mexico Backroads guided American Expedition Vehicles on the 400-mile Gila Legends Expedition. The trip, as recounted in NMBR’s previous article “NMBR Prospector Preface: Detroit Built and New Mexico Proven” [LINK], described my strong first impression and experience with the AEV outfitted RAM Power Wagon. The truck was equipped with AEV’s soon to be released RAM suspension, raised air intake, stamped steel front bumper, wheels, and other upgrades. To summarize the Gila Legends Expedition with regards to the AEV Prospector, I was surprised by the truck’s capability, ride comfort, and nimble handling given its sheer size and weight. This was also paired with my previous experiences with heavy-duty trucks in the field. Seeing the Prospector excel over a variety of challenging terrain paired with an extended test drive, provided the basis for considering the Power Wagon platform paired with AEV upgrades to handle NMBR’s growing (heavy-duty) needs.
From towing the NMBR F-Toy (rock crawler buggy), hauling the gear and necessary equipment to support groups in the backcountry, to providing four-wheel drive training for (full-size truck driving) Federal law enforcement officers, a powerful, well equipped, and capable truck became necessary. While I was able to conduct truck clientele specific training and guiding services in the NMBR Rubicon, it presented some challenges. For example, a guide leading in a 114-inch wheelbase JK Wrangler, asking those behind him with 30 (or more) inches of wheelbase to follow him through tight tree sections and technical rock gardens was asking for a bit much. Enthusiast and professionals that drive trucks day in and day out like to be trained by 4WD instructors that own trucks themselves.
West of Oklahoma City, severe weather warnings, dark skies, and howling gusts had emptied Interstate 40. Lightning flashes, followed by shattering thunder, hinted at the weather event that would soon arrive. The drone of the Power Wagon’s 33-inch DuraTrac tires and the hum of the 410-horsepower HEMI engine were drowned out as light sprinkles transitioned into pounding drops. Though the gail force winds and horizontal rain laid the prairie grass flat, the truck only required the slightest steering correction to compensate. The RAM was unimpressed by mother nature’s spectacle. With its 7,000-pound curb weight and 149-inch wheel base, the stability the Power Wagon provided was confidence inspiring. Detroit or bust!
A few weeks earlier I had walked onto a dealer lot in El Paso kicking around the idea that I’d test drive a stock RAM 2500 (crew cab, HEMI, 4WD) and give myself a few more months to think about the prospect of having a full-sized truck along NMBR’s most common backcountry fieldwork and guiding routes. A few hours later, I drove off the lot in a Bright White Power Wagon Tradesman—the deal was too good to walk away from. With the unexpected purchase came a wave of possibilities for setting up the truck’s bed. Commercial topper, aluminum tray bed, bed rack with roof top tent—all were pondered. The increase in cargo volume and payload from the NMBR Rubicon was like moving from a studio apartment in the city to a three-bedroom home in the burbs. If you hadn’t guessed (by the article accompanying photos), the majority of most important upgrade parts were already decided—AEV. I reached out to my friend Matt Feldermann (AEV’s Marketing Manager) for guidance on outfitting the truck for New Mexico Backroads unique scope of fieldwork. As a fellow four-wheel drive professional, Matt was able to provide detailed information on all of AEV’s RAM Trucks 2500 and 3500 parts. More importantly, he was able to provide straightforward and candid feedback based on his own experience driving an AEV equipped RAM on a daily basis—be it for a daily commute or romping in the snow on the Upper Peninsula. He explained that AEV’s approach to designing and manufacturing parts for RAM Trucks followed the same fundamentals as their Jeep Wrangler products: complement OE design, utilize the highest quality materials and finishes, and maximize performance.
On the outskirts of Joplin, Missouri, man and truck emerged unscathed from the powerful storm. Through the clouds, the sunset laid rays of light and long shadows across the surrounding landscape. To the west, rolling hills and farmland. To the east, the Neosho River emitted a silvery reflection affront the Ozarks. During the planning stages for this trip, my initial thoughts were that a solid axle[d], high-clearance, 7,000-pound full-sized truck would be less than ideal for a 1,700 mile [paved] road trip USA. Today would be the longest I had spent behind the wheel of the Power Wagon. Early expectations were left at the roadside somewhere near Santa Rosa, New Mexico. I cracked the windows allowing the rain scented air to fill the cab and raised the volume on Chris Stapleton. With my eye on St. Louis now, I gently pressed the accelerator. The 6.4-liter HEMI emitted throaty tone that could be felt in the floorboard. There is something about driving a full-sized truck across the Heartland of America that just feels right.
One of the things I’ve come to appreciate the most about the NMBR Rubicon is its suspension system; American Expedition Vehicle’s DualSport RS kit. From creeping the granite boulder fields of the Dusy Ershim Trail, to running at high speeds on southern New Mexico’s washboard dirt highways, the performance, control, and comfort provided by the AEV’s suspension are exceptional. Through my discussions with Matt Feldermann on building the NMBR Power Wagon, it became apparent that AEV followed the same [proven] guiding principles for RAM Trucks as they did for the JK Wrangler’s suspension. The primary goals with the suspension system design was to yield a comprehensive lift that did not reduce payload capacity, allowed for running larger tires, increased ride comfort, and enhanced handling control. Through meticulous engineering, shock tuning, and field testing, AEV produced the Ram HD 3" DualSport SC suspension system. My interest in suspension system performance is paramount as New Mexico Backroads’ field work entails over 15,000-miles of travels a year over un-paved roads. Handling, stability and comfort can mean the difference between feeling fine or fatigued after the completion of a weeklong backcountry traverse.
After reviewing the plethora of information provided by Matt, and careful consideration of New Mexico Backroads’ needs, I opted to have the new Power Wagon fully outfitted by American Expedition Vehicles. While I did all the work myself for both stages of the NMBR Rubicon build; I opted to have AEV perform a full Prospector package build, bumper to bumper at their Wixom, Michigan facility outside of Detroit. With a full scouting, guiding, and training schedule well into Winter 2017, I would not have been able to commit the time or energy into building the truck on my own. The thought of wrenching under the truck by night and working in the field by day was a bit daunting. I was also knee deep in the NMBR F-Toy (rock crawler) build. The idea of AEV’s pros performing the work in a brand new, world-class, multimillion dollar facility, where quality and workmanship takes precedence, provided a considerable benefit. Covering every detail to the Nth degree, Matt and the American Expedition Vehicles Team provided excellent guidance on equipment specifications, upgrade options, and the AEV Prospector build process. From start to finish, the build would take approximately four to six weeks. As for the NMBR Prospector's build sheet, I let Matt write the specifications.  

-AEV Premium Front Bumper with AEV Power Wagon Winch Install Kit 
-Vision X LED Light Bar and 100w Halogen Fog Lights 
-AEV RAM DualSport Suspension with custom AEV Tuned Bilstein 5100’s 
-AEV RAM Heat Reduction Hood and AEV RAM Raised Air Intake with Air Ram and Pre-Filter Assembly 
-AEV RAM Front & Rear Differential Covers 
-AEV RAM Front & Rear Splash Guards 
-AEV RAM Salta HD Wheels (Black finish) with BFGoodrich All-Terrain KO2 tires 
-AEV RAM Leather Seating with Embroidered Headrests, Prospector Badging, Emblems and AEV Windshield Banner 

With a simple email reply to confirm the build specifications, start date, and a few small details, the NMBR Prospector was set in motion. The next full-sized chapter for New Mexico Backroads started.
Ahead of schedule and only a few hours short of the Motor City, I pulled off the highway and found my way onto the shores of Lake Michigan. For a desert dweller, the sunset view was something to behold. Waves crashed against a jetty while seagulls circled overhead. Barely evident on the west skyline was Chicago. The curvature of the earth produced an optical illusion that the lake had submerged the buildings some 10-stories deep. I gazed at the stock Power Wagon against the magnificent background. This was one of the last full views I’d get of the truck before it’s Prospector transformation. Somewhere between Las Cruces, New Mexico and Wixom, Michigan; a friendship between man and machine was formed.

Registration opens for NMBR's Winter 2017 Gila Overland - Overland Traverse of the Black Range & Continental Divide

WINTER 2017 GILA OVERLAND - Friday, February 24th through Sunday, February 26th - Overland based exploration of the remote backcountry, rich history and rugged backroads of New Mexico's Gila Region - Organized and guided by New Mexico Backroads' Jake Quinones

Complete Details: Email NMBackroads(at)gmail.com for full trip details, pricing and registration information 

Winter Gila Overland Preview: Visit the NMBR’s New Mexico Gila Photo gallery for a preview of the Gila Overland experience - LINK 

Winter Gila Overland Overview: Friday, February 24th through Sunday, February 26th, 2017 | New Mexico’s Gila Region | 3 Day Extended Weekend Trip | Approximate Route Distance: 180 to 225-Miles | Approximate Elevation Range: 4,175 to 8,250-Feet | The Gila Overland provides a condensed “weekend warrior” version of NMBR’s (five day) Gila Legends Expedition. Areas of exploration will include Black Range, Great Divide Trail, and Plains of San Agustin. 

The Experience: This February, New Mexico Backroads will be guiding a three day [180 to 225-mile] overland adventure that will traverse New Mexico’s vast and diverse Gila region. NMBR has guided portions of this route for American Expedition Vehicles, Expedition Portal, Overland Journal, and a multitude of overland enthusiasts seeking adventure. The Gila Overland route includes a diverse range of scenery, history, terrain, and backroads found nowhere else in North America. Landscapes and terrain will include desert, grassland, chaparral, canyon bottoms, and dense forest with elevations ranging from 4,175 to 8,250-feet. Areas of exploration will include the Gila National Forest’s Black Range, Great Divide Trail (sections), and Plains of San Agustin. The Gila Overland route will pass through the northern end of the Sierra Madre Mountain Range as well as the Southern end of the Rockies, all while skirting the world’s first established wilderness areas—the Gila Wilderness & Aldo Leopold Wilderness. Road types and conditions will include washboards, two tracks, primitive non-maintained, graded, mountain shelf, dirt byway and (least of all) pavement. The Gila Overland will provide outstanding vistas, historic landmarks, wildlife viewing opportunities [including Mexican grey wolf territory], and aggressive elevation contours. During the Gila Overland, NMBR will cover a variety of topics area history, the surrounding landscape, vehicle maintenance, overland tool kit assembly, driving techniques, and other overland based travel skill building subjects. 

Where & When: The Winter Gila Overland will take place Friday, February 24th through Sunday, February 26th, 2017. Participants will meet the morning of Friday, February 24th in southern New Mexico; the exact departure location and details will be provided during the registration process. 

Planning & Preparations: The Gila Overland will require participants to be self-supportive with regards to vehicle, equipment, meals and supplies. Services of any kind, including cell, fuel, or anything remotely civilized, will be unavailable for stretches of up to 225 miles or more (if re-routes occur). Experiencing single digit temperatures and snow will be entirely possible during this trip. In the time leading up to the Gila Overland, registered participants will be provided with extensive information on how to prepare for the adventure, what to bring and what to expect. Over the past decade, NMBR has written a series of informative overland travel based articles with topics ranging from field kit assembly, to vehicle maintenance and upkeep, to equipment and gear advice. These articles, paired with extensive vehicle, equipment, provision and preparation lists are provided to participants in the time leading up to the adventure. During the Gila Overland pre-trip planning and preparation period, NMBR will be available to provide expert opinion and feedback to participants for any questions or concerns related to getting ready and gearing up for the adventure. During the Gila Overland, NMBR will revisit many of the topics that were covered in the pre-trip period with in field demonstrations and lessons. The self-sufficient aspect of NMBR guided expeditions and overland adventures and trail runs challenges and prepares participants for their future 4WD based endeavors—to go boldly, prepared, and with confidence. 

Registration: Ready for your next great adventure? Email NMBackroads(at)gmail.com for full trip details, pricing, driver/equipment requirements, and registration information.