Ted wondered, "What if there's no place to turn around at the top?" I guess if that were to happen, there'll be lots of cars up there. There certainly wasn't any place to turn around where we were and I wasn't going to drive backwards down that road. If a graveyard of abandoned vehicles awaited us on Jack's Peak, we'd just pitch the Subaru in with them and hike out.
Meanwhile, Ted was getting over his anxiety about trespassing and grinding the Subaru's transmission off on a high center. He started to get jolly. You just never know about Ted.
The road went from bad to pretty good, then to worse, back to bad, then progressed to terrible. When the top came into view, we saw it was covered with communications towers and we knew exactly where we were. When you're down on the highway, you notice a mountaintop south of Silver City, bristling with antennas near where the Burro Mountains dissolve into the desert. It looks to be way higher from the top than it does from the highway. It also hums with electromagnetic vibrations that would traumatize all those people who fear brain cancer from cell phones.
Ironically, there's no place to turn around at the top, at least no easy way. Makes you wonder how they got all those towers and concrete pads and electrical transformers up there. Helicopter? Maybe they brought 'em up the short way, along the power line that goes straight up the mountain from the highway. Since there were no abandoned vehicles around, we can only surmise that they threw 'em off when they finished construction up there.
We got the Subaru turned around and headed back down the road. Going down gives the brakes a workout, but--if the gas gauge is to be believed--you get such a boost from gravity that the amount of gas in your tank actually increases as you go down. Who knew!
We met the slow guy coming up. He stopped again in the middle of the road. We couldn't pass and neither could he. He was on the drop-off side of the road, which seemed to terrify him. He gave me this stricken look as he inched his truck toward the edge, with six feet of road to his credit that he couldn't see. I pulled to the right as far as I could, but I had to stop because there was a boulder at my bumper. Ted got out and shoved it off the road and we all got moving again. I felt sorry for the slow guy. He couldn't have been more than 22 and likely had little confidence in his driving skill or in his vehicle--a 4-wheel drive pickup with plenty of clearance.
We rolled down the mountain safe and sound back to Gold Gulch Road. Passing through the sandy river bottom again, it occurred to me that next time I need a bucket of clean sand, I can just go out there and scoop some up. To heck with raiding anthills for the nice sand fire ants pile up around their front doors.