Wednesday, November 16, 2011 – Forest Trail 153 – Past Gila
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