Monthly Archives: November 2011
Today, Shelly, Cody and I took the old highway road from the Fort Bayard Game Preserve – Arenas Valley Rd parking lot over to the hospital, came around past the Bow and Arrow Target practice area and then took the hike path back to the car. It was a nice, two-hour hike with warm, sunny weather.
On the way home I stopped at the Forest Service building where they gave me a nice map with descriptions of the side roads I’ve taken over near Fierro and Georgetown. Now I can better identify some of the locations of these hikes I’ve been on.
Approx miles: 3 / Time – 2 hours
19 down / 81 to go
Sub Title: 3 Old Mines and 2 Sore Hikers
I have not been on a hike all week due to the Thanksgiving festivities so I pushed myself out the door today for a hike with Cody. I decided to check out the road that goes out past Fierro. Fierro is an old mining town that is off of Highway 152 on Route 356. I passed by old mining equipment, the church, cemetery and a bunch of old buildings in varying levels of decay and residency. For more information on the town, check out:
I went as far as I could on 356 – until I almost hit the gate to the mining operations. There was a side road to the right and that led to me to many hiking options. I chose FR 4203E as my starting point. I was soon glad I did. Very soon into the hike, I came to an old mine shaft with a fence around it. It was cool (wait, I think today’s vernacular would make this sight – awesome) to walk around it and check out the hole and wood beams around it. I wondered how they made the hole so square – I guess they had some decent equipment back then.
A little further and the terrain started changing. Hillier and a creek that I walked along. Soon, pine trees started making an appearance. Across the creek I saw another mine and just had to cross over and check it out. This had more holes and more wood equipment in the ground. I was afraid Cody would disappear into one of the holes but I worry for nothing most of the time. We crossed back over onto our path and continued on. Our path started rising as the creek dropped off into an impressive ravine. I was now walking among pine trees on a pleasant ridge. At the end of the ridge it wound to the right and down. I followed but it soon stopped abruptly at a precipice. After picking up some interesting rocks, I turned back. Back at the end of the ridge, I looked out and enjoyed a long range view to the north and east. Saw some snow on a high mountain in the distance. I also noticed that on the ridge to my right were pine trees and on the ridge to my left was a more desert look – scrub oak and such – no large trees. It was interesting to realize I was at the edge of the pine forest.
On the way back, I was checking the GPS and walking at the same time. Doing these two functions at the same time ended up being too challenging for me and I slipped and fell on the rocky road. A painful hip and 2 scratches on the GPS were the damages reported. That’s what I get for stashing interesting rocks in my back pockets and not paying attention.
Soon after I saw a third mine that was missed on the way in. A pit and what resembled a building or maybe a processing area. We had fun exploring it for a few minutes and then headed back to the car. That’s when I noticed Cody was limping on her back right side. I checked for burrs or cuts but found nothing. This afternoon we sit and nurse our wounds….. and make turkey soup.
2 hours and 2.03 miles
18 down / 82 to go
As I wrote a letter to my pen pal (my 10 year-old nephew Ryan) the other day, I realized that I only have done 16 hikes and have already seen and experienced some very cool things! I’ve walked through rivers, in flat desert, in mountainous pine forests, rolling hills, in river beds and on ridge tops. We’ve seen interesting rocks, horses, rabbits, deer, javelina (wild boars), hunters, a crashed airplane, cowboys, and one guy who is hiking the entire Continental Divide Trail in 4 months. So far, pretty fun!
The hike was a pleasant one – the weather was cloudy and in the 50’s – not too cold; not too hot. The trail meandered through the hills and offered some nice views, trees and even a few cows. I was glad that I had the GPS turned on because there were quite a few intersecting roads throughout the area. We even ended up putting up markers to remind us of which road we should take back to our starting spot – that’s how many intersecting roads there were! We got turned around once and thought we were on the wrong road. We back tracked and tried the other road. Then I checked the GPS and realized that the first road was correct. We bush wacked (‘cause we’re just so hiker cool and confident!) and were back on the right road in short order. It must be a well-used area because, unfortunately, we saw a lot of trash. We brought back as much as we could fit into our bag. Come on people, if you bring it in, could ya at least take it out????
It seemed to be a grazing area because we found a corral and 3 head nearby it. The was a lot of truck tracks and the smell of manure. I suspect the boys were collecting the herd recently.
Now it’s time for some Matzo Ball Soup.
4.04 miles / 2 hours
17 down / 83 to go
Ah, what a beauty! I found this trail when Julian mentioned a hike near Mogollon and I accidently and wrongly found this road with a little Mogollon indicator. See the map for what I mean. It says the word Mogollon – but it’s not the ghost town of Mogollon. I am getting the distinct feeling that these mountains contain mysteries and secrets and a few anomalies too!
Helen is adventuresome and so was game when I suggested that we explore this trail. We made the drive out to Sacaton Road and enjoyed the wonderful views – everything from mesas to canyons reminiscent of Canyon de Chelly. The whole time the Mogollon Mountains loomed in the distance. We wound our way down into this hidden, wonderful canyon – it was like a huge oblong bowl settled into the earth. In it were several ranches and obvious signs of ranch activity – wind mills, stock tanks, some cattle, etc.
We reached the trail head to find a group of hunters had made camp in the parking area. A few horse trailers, a few tents and the smell of camp fire. A woman poked her head out and greeted us. She explained where the hunters had headed so we could head on an alternative trail. I am continually glad that I wear that bright red sweater during hunting season. They had already shot one buck and since today was their last hunting day, they were hoping for a second. Hope they got it!
The trail meandered through the foothills of the Mogollon Mountains. A few arroyos, a few scrub oak and lovely rambling hills to enjoy. The pictures will give you a feel for the striking views we enjoyed along the way. I must say, Elsa (Helen’s dog) has an excellent nose for trail finding. When the few times the trail disappeared, she found the right spot and patiently looked back at us until we realized we could stop looking – she had us covered!
As I’m writing this, I’m thinking that I may want to change today’s title to: “Geode Hunting in the Gila”. As we walked along, we began noticing white streaks in some rocks – both large and small. We realized they looked like geodes and picked up a few. None of them had the full, round rock look that when split in two had the crystals inside, but several of them had the white streaks and some crystals in them. I’m going to bring them to The Royal Scepter and ask them for some assistance in identifying them. I’ve included a few pictures of what we found. If anyone knows what they are, I’d appreciate some help – please leave a comment with explanation – thanks!
The other cool thing that happened during this hike was when we met a cowboy on our way back. I LOVE it when this kind of thing happens out here! It reminds me that I’m truly in the west. We saw a horse and rider coming towards us on the trail. He stopped and we talked for a few minutes. He told a brief history of the area and that the large peak was Shelley Peak. Mr. Shelly and his family settled this area in the late 1880’s and the descendants still run the ranch. He told us that next time we come back, we should come to the ranch and he’ll take us on a few trails that no one knows about. He offered to take us on horseback too. What a nice guy. By the way, he was wearing jeans and chaps (and anyone who knows me knows how I feel about them!) and both Helen and I decided he was just fine! Maybe I’ll change the title to “Hikers Meet Chap-wearing Cowboy”.
16 down / 84 to go
Steve and I took the popular Big Tree trail today. It’s a nice trail that is nearby – Fort Bayard Game Preserve lays to the east of Silver City a few miles. A few mild up and down hills and meadows and a few arroyos. It was a lovely day for it – 50-60 degrees, sunny and a light breeze.
We saw a water line that ran through the trails – probably for the Fort in the good old days.
We walked 3.13 miles and it took us a scosche over 2 hours.
From the Forest Service website:
This is a scenic walk through pinon juniper setting.
The Big Juniper Tree is nationally ranked as the second largest alligator Juniper Tree. Its diameter is 70.2 in, circumference is 18 ft. 4 in, crown spread is 62 ft., and height is 63 ft. The Big Juniper Tree is located on lands previously utilized as part of the historic Fort Bayard Military Reservation. The route to the Big Juniper Tree follows primitive roads that pass through the rolling foothills of the Pinos Altos Mountains which lie to the north.
15 down / 85 to go
How can two hikes in the same neighborhood be so different??? The comparison of Saturday’s ugly duckling hike was a sharp contrast to Sunday’s!! Margaret and I took Cody and Cisco up the north ridge of Water Canyon in the Mimbres Valley. The upward climb only took about 20 minutes but it was 20 minutes that were hard on my knees! Boy did it burn! I regretted not taking my hiking stick but soon found one to replace it – the downhill trek would require a third leg!!
For those of you from around this area, you may be more familiar with McKnight Canyon – which is just to the north of Water Canyon. I’ve never done McKnight – but it’s in the plan for sure!
When we got to the top of the ridge, we were rewarded with 360 views. We could see into the Mimbres Valley and pointed out landmarks to each other. Mr. Fowler’s House, the BBQ
Restaurant, etc. Looking south, we saw layers of mountain ranges, from nearby to far in the distance – probably the tallest one was Cook’s Peak – which I never saw from this angle so it was difficult to confirm. To the north we enjoyed ridge upon ridge of Gila National Forest.
We were shocked to see a well-used dirt road on our ridge. When we walked south west (which was close to our starting point) we ran into a turnaround – but no road down. So we wondered how did vehicles get up here – they were obviously up here often enough to wear
this road. We walked the road north east for a good hour feeling sure we would find the answer to the vehicle access question.
In the past we had walked Water Canyon up quite far and discovered a water tank and wind mill with a road. So today we thought we would hit that tank and discover the connection
for this road. We made it to the end of this ridge and the road started winding to the north – toward McKnight – the opposite of what we expected. Looking down toward Water Canyon we realized that there was another ridge between us and Water Canyon – so we were too far over. We never did discover where this road lead to civilization but did thoroughly enjoy this trail and nature.
On Saturday at our campsite, we enjoyed watching 2 ranch hands bring in some cattle. They go up Water Canyon, collect them, and bring them in. They said they had lost about 20 head – couldn’t find them anywhere. Well, Cody found two of them up on this ridge. They were off to one side minding their own business. We toyed around with bringing them in ourselves but quickly realized that dealing with 2 cow-crazed barking dogs, 2 immense cows and being on a timeframe, our cowgirl dreams were probably unrealistic. I think we got points for considering it though!
The southern ridge of Water Canyon is certainly in the plan – but it will be a challenge to get up to – our first attempt in August landed Frank with a broken foot – it’s crazy steep! We’ll have to try ascending the northern side at some point. I’ve heard from ranch hands that there are Indian ruins up there – I’d love to see that!
14 down / 86 to go
In a hiker’s journeys, I guess there has to be an ugly hike now and then. I have been thrilled with quite a few beautiful hikes in the past 13 – but this wasn’t one of them.
For 11 years now, we have regularly camped and done some Cowboy Action Shooting in Water Canyon in the Mimbres Valley – generously lent to us by our benefactor, John Fowler. So I knew that some of my 100 hikes would be around this area. Margaret and I, along with
Cisco and Cody, decided we would walk the dirt road to the Mimbres River and then walk north along the river for an hour and then back. The river was dry (it is well known that the river runs underground more often than above in this area), and we walked along the river rocks and talked up a storm. Mr. Fowler runs a gravel pit in the area to the south but since we were going north, we were unconcerned with gravel pit operations. Well, we were quickly stopped of our north bound plans by fencing. It’s probably not wise to cross over unknown
fences onto unknown land so we turned around at John’s fence and decided to head south. This path took us through the gravel pits and onto some scraped land near the river. We were in a low spot with berms to guide the water so there were no views, no trees, no water. We got in our 2 hours, but it was probably the ugliest hike I’ve been on. The company and conversation made up for it – as did the bottle of wine that awaited us at the camp sight.
If you’re wondering about Cowboy Action Shooting, sometimes called SASS – Single Action Shooting, it’s a fun sport involving 2 single action pistols, a rifle and a shotgun – all weapons
must be from the 1880’s genre. You wear period-correct costuming and are scored on time and accuracy. It’s a lot of fun and the people are wonderful! Check out the local club at: www.gilarangers.com or just Google “Single Action Shooting” for the national site.
2 hours and approximately 3.5 miles
13 down / 87 to go
Happy birthday to my god daughter, Jaclyn Diane Long! I love you honey!
A new hiking buddy was added to the mix today and what an enjoyable hike it was! Helen and her dog Elsa joined Cody and I at the Bear Mountain Lodge hiking trails. We did the north side of their trails and enjoyed some up and down exercise through a few arroyos. Several nice long range views. Helen and I always have a wide variety of conversation and today was no different. I heard about her recent bicycling trip to Eastern Europe, we discussed religion and health and careers and several other interesting topics. A perfect morning with a chill in the air, a dusting of snow on the ground, and a blue-jean blue sky.
Since I forgot to turn on the GPS, I’m guessing at the mileage:
Approx. 3 miles walked, 2 hours on the nose.
We hiked the Old Windmill Trail in both directions and then walked the dirt road from our cars to Bear Mountain Road and back.
12 down / 88 to go!
Maybe it was the wine last night, or the cold air, or the time change, or a well disguised hard hike, but both Mary Ann and I had to stop and catch our breath several times on this hike.
It was a beautifulCD trek through pine trees and canyons, but a lot of up and down hilling.
We went part of the time on the trail with cairns and part of the time on a dirt road. Cody was superb in obeying me when she started chasing a small javelina (which I was scared would be defended by several large javelina!) and came back when called. We also saw a large black dog that Cody greeted enthusiastically, but again, came back when called. We never did see who that dog belonged to. After reading the map of where we were, I realize we were in an area that had several private land holdings, so the dog probably thinks the CD trail is its’ backyard (rightly so!).
As usual, we had great conversation, solving many of the problems of the world, and enjoyed a brisk fall morning on the trail.
Some stats – 2.86 miles, averaging 2.6 mph. time: 2.75 hours
Cody is sleeping at my feet – priceless.
11 down / 89 to go
Cisco and I climbed the steepest part of Radio Tower Road and were rewarded with views of Silver City and beyond. This is the mountain right behind our street that holds the radio and cell towers above Skip’s house. I took lots of photos of my neighborhood and of course the awesome views. Since this part of the hike wasn’t long enough, I also took a nearby dirt road/path around the mountain to the west. It was a lovely walk with lots of pines and views to the west. At one point, Cisco had fun chasing a squirrel from tree to tree. The squirrel was able to escape of course but it was hysterical to watch the two of them play cat and mouse (in this case, dog and squirrel). The squirrel would jump from branch to branch, bobbing and weaving, dipping and squealing.
Cisco would bark and jump, chase and dart. 50 yards of good trail
entertainment right there.
I may have to change the name of this challenge to 100 photos of the kneeling nun in one year. That girl shows up everywhere!
10 down / 90 to go