Monthly Archives: April 2012

4-29-12 – CD Trail – Little Walnut Rd to Bear Mountain Road

Since December, when Mary Ann and I hiked the CD trail from Bear Mountain Rd to a beautiful meadow and then back again (see hike #25, 12-18-11), we have wanted to do a through hike from the other side – Little Walnut Road. We finally had time to do it today with April. The negative to through hikes is that it takes time to set both cars in their proper locations. In this case, it took us an hour on each side of the hike. So our 3 hour trek took us 5 hours, door to door. No problem really, as long as you have some time for it.  I will say, now that I’ve learned more about my GPS, it is cool to use the ‘mark’ function and then watch your progress as you close in on your ‘mark’ – in this case, Mary Ann’s car.

Mary Ann, April and Cody with Bear Mountain in the background

 

 

We start the hike at 9:00, once the cars have been set in place. We quickly see that this is a well used trail; we pass 3 mountain bikers and then a few minutes later, 2 runners. We are amused by both – I wouldn’t be biking since I have weak knees (and I’m afraid of private part injuries), and the thought of me running off of flat, even ground sounds like a broken ankle. But I always admire when I see people doing it. Anyone getting the idea that I’m a wee bit clumsy?

The terrain here is pine trees and hills and, oh yeah, beautiful. It’s nice and cool and we enjoy the trail. As usual, the conversations fascinate me. Today we discuss the government/education/student loans issue, the meaning of art, the art we’ve seen, budgets, finances, religion, why April is going to Germany, the price of hotels, cancer, grieving, abortion, work, and tons of other subjects. Whew! No wonder I’m always out of breath during these walks!

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The topography gradually opens up to be more rolling hills with pinons and oaks. Then we climb up the east side of a mountain and finally we get to the reason I was looking forward to this hike. In the middle of this section of the CD trail is a beautiful meadow. There are several hills with open fields and you can see the mountains around it with dramatic views.  I would love to come here and just ramble up and down the hills and explore the whole area.

We rest at the two hour mark and sit under a tree for a snack. Then on to the last half of the trail which brings us away from the meadow, towards Bear Mountain and up a rocky hill. This trail is so diverse; we’ve passed through so many different terrains! After Cody alerts us to a few cattle, we reach the car and head back to retrieve my car. The weather was perfect, the conversation stimulating (as usual) and now Cody sleeps at my feet. What a great Sunday!!!

5.50 miles / 3.0 hours

58 down / 42 to go

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Gila National Forest – Signal Peak Hike

4-22-12 – Signal Peak hike

I’ve heard the name, listened to the stories, asked for directions and clarifications. And now, the hike up Signal Peak……or not.

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Mary Ann, April, Cisco and I load up the car and head for the Signal Peak Trailhead on Highway 15. It’s 2.5 miles uphill – or uppeak, if you will. We enjoy crossing over Cherry Creek and head upwards. Well, I don’t know if it was the effects of two previous physical days, or the heat, but I feel off. I actually have to sit down and rest very shortly after takeoff. The altitude? Perhaps. We continue on with many stops for breath catching. I have been discouraged lately by my need to stop and catch my breath. I’m not tired; I’m just out of breath.  Several of the past hikes have been more challenging and more uphill. I hope I get conditioned.

Signal Peak is a common hike and we see several other people on our way. It’s only 14 miles from town, it’s beautiful and at the top are 360 views and the fire lookout tower. Here is more information about the Signal Peak Hike:

http://www.fs.usda.gov/recarea/gila/recreation/hiking/recarea/?recid=2017&actid=50

We continue up, up, up and enjoy long range views and ponderosa and interesting boulders. Mary Ann guides April (aka Young Blood) to a geocache. There is a tree stump 20 feet off of the trail. April climbs up and tells us there’s a rock on top of it. Below that is a smaller rock, and below that a taped up tube. We’ve found our first cache. April adds a small, pink barrette to the hidey hole and we continue on.

But at the 1 mile mark, I have to turn around. It’s gotten hot and I have rolled up my jeans and my t-shirt becomes a midriff. So down we go with Mary Ann telling me I can do it; we’ll try again. I’m envisioning a beautiful downhill trek where we park one car up top and another at the bottom and hike down the darn peak! But seriously, I’ll try it again.

Mental note: Try on last year’s hiking shorts.

Note #2: No more whining allowed. This will be my last post that has any complaining, whining, or crying in it.     I hope.

1.93 miles / 2.5 hours

57 down / 43 to go

Hiking on the Continental Divide Trail in the Gila National Forest

 

Helen, Angie and I head out to explore the Gila Forest in the Little Walnut area. I had hiked up here several years ago and remember enjoying the pine forest trails. When I mention a trail behind the fire station, Helen knows of access to the CD Trail in the area that ties in to my trail, and once again, we’re off!

 

Seriously, we've got nice views!

 

 

Views of the monestary.

 

We walk down a dirt drive that has access to the trail, Helen points out a friend’s home, we see a nice homemade sign that says, “Forest Trail” that meanders down a hill and our hike begins lovely amongst the pines. We soon hit the CD Trail and choose to turn right onto it (the left trail will take us back towards the roads and we prefer not seeing civilization.). Onward we trek, up and down and around the hills of the Gila. As you can see from the photos, there are many striking vistas to enjoy.

 

A photo of a horse's ass.

 

 

As usual, as we hike, we talk about everything under the sun. It’s a warm, sunny day, with no wind – a pleasant surprise for this time of year. Eventually the conversation turns to Angie; she is taking this hike 10 days after having a mastectomy. I’m amazed that she’s not only up, but out for a hike. Angie, you totally impress me. It would be easy to be home and hiding under the covers. You choose to get out and do things. It’s no easy thing and it never fails to stun me when I hear about people’s challenges and how they overcome obstacles and how strong they are. You go woman!

Angie, Helen and Cody

 

All the up and down slopes are wearing me out and at the 2.5 mile mark, we turn back.

This is the time of year where there are changes needed in my gear. For one thing, it’s getting warm out and I’ll need more water; time to bring the backpack with the camel inside. Lighter clothing and layers of it too. I hate to admit this, but the chocolate may have to go. It’s making a melty, sticky mess of things.

We stop several times on the way back to rest and catch our breath. Angie is starting to tire. Towards the end, we reach the driveway/access point and Angie sits for a rest. Helen walks to the car and drives it back. We’re all tired, hot and thirsty. Luckily, my husband was working at the fire station and gave Helen cold water for us.  As I sit here writing this, I’m feeling that ’empty’ feeling and know that I’ll eat good tonight – and then sleep even better!

Just what you expect to see in a tree....... a deer's hoof.

 

4.76 miles / 4.0 hours

56 down / 44 to go

04-16-12 – CD Trail – Hike towards Jack’s Peak

Today, Steve, Lou and I hike on the Continental Divide Trail from the parking lot on Highway 90, heading north towards Jack’s Peak. It’s a steep climb with loose rock, but also with beautiful views to enjoy. We check out a variety of trees, rocks and scat as we climb.

In the past few weeks I’ve attempted twice to dig a hole in an arroyo trying to find water. Both attempts were failures, except that I learning that it’s a HARD way to find water. I want to find a better option. When describing my efforts, Lou describes the water collection method where you dig the hole, cover it with plastic, put rocks around the edge to hold the plastic and collect condensation. The method is also described in the book, “Desert Survival Skills” by David Alloway. That will be a future experiment for sure. Warm weather is coming and I’d like to try it before then.

 

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We hike along the trail and eventually my knees decide they’ve had enough. We’re close to the 2 ½ mile mark so I push on until we touch it and then I declare that “this spot is the half way mark”. We turn back and the easy part of the hike begins, downhill. Halfway down, Lou, being the Forest Service Billy Goat that he is, decides to bushwhack it back to the car. He’s pointing over the edge, stating that he thinks we should go down. I’m staying on trail and triple dog dare him to go over the edge. He’ll meet us back at the car, he calls over his shoulder and he disappears.

I imagine waiting for him at the car, but the nut job is sitting in the shade when Steve and I reach the car. Son of a bitch! I’m appropriately impressed but also now understand why his wife just has to shake her head sometimes.

 

4.91 miles / 4.0 hours

55 down / 45 to go

A Hike in Search of Water

04-08-12 – A hike in an arroyo

A Prickly Pear Cactus growing happily on the side of the arroyo.

 

On a fine Easter morning, I head out my back door and take a hike in an arroyo. I haven’t been up this particular way in about 5 years and I look forward to enjoying it again. I was surprised at a few changes. There is a damn up about 40 minutes and an open field above it. When I arrive there I find the field is covered in 6-10 foot trees. Man may make changes to the landscape, but Mother Nature returns in the end! I am aiming towards an old windmill Frank and I had found years before. I find it, also with some changes. The fan is on the ground and broken; I speculate it is Mother Nature at work again. I walk a wide circle around the windmill, just poking around and I find some old pottery pieces, an old purple bottle neck, some green glass and a deer skull. Right near the deer skull, I find what looks like mountain lion scat and I can’t help but put 2 and 2 together to figure out how that deer skull got there! I see what looks like the remains of an old road and explore it for a few minutes. It reaches an obvious dirt road which I also follow for a few minutes and realize this might be an adventure for another day. Today, I have another escapade of sorts to try.

The fan of the old windmill down for the count.

 

For a while now I’ve been thinking about hiking in the desert and safety. I’ve read this book, “Desert Survival Skills” by David Alloway and one tip about water stuck in my mind. He describes the possibility of finding water in the curve of an arroyo. Dig on the outside of a bend in the arroyo. Since I was alone today (except for Cody dog), I decided this was a good opportunity to perform a test.  I looked for appropriate curves in the arroyo. I found one area where there were two wet spots between rocks and I decide this is the best place to dig. It hadn’t rained any time recently so I didn’t think it was from above; I entertained the ‘spring’ idea and started digging. I removed many stones and a lot of sand and dead leaves. The author suggests digging about 24 inches and I dug a hole about 12 inches by 8 inches when I hit several large rocks. I thought I remembered the book talking about water rising into the hole, so I take a break to see if anything ‘comes up’. Nothing. My watch says it’s getting close to my return time so I pack up, gear up and get up. I plan to try the curve idea out in the Mimbres this week-end.

 

My unsuccessful first attempt at finding water.

 

* * * * * * * * * * * * *

I’ve been reading a few hiking blogs and one guy talked about how he caught the hiking bug. I’m not sure when I did. I feel like I’ve always been outside or wanting to go outside. Maybe it stems from my mother yelling at us kids to “GO OUTSIDE!!” I have a memory of both my grandfathers gardening and I desperately love to garden also. I have memories of taking photographs for my photography class in high school – they were always outdoors. We would go into the country side and take pictures of old barns and ferns and landscapes. Always in nature. I love geography and geology. I recall hiking trips with college friends – hey, where is my old back pack????

The deer who didn't make it..........

 

 

I'm guessing this is the foundation of an old line shack. Any thoughts?

 

 

The arroyo near the spot I dug for water.

 

 

1.47 miles / 2.25 hours

54 down / 46 to go

A Hike Through The Ages

One of the many views we enjoyed today.

04-06-12 – Pony Hill and Fort Cummings

Let me describe how I determined this hike. I asked Bob Pelham for his suggestions, and Bob is the kind of guy you want to ask since his boots have touched more New Mexico rocks than anyone I know. I suggest his hike to a friend who tells another friend where we’re going. The second friend mentions another nearby location ‘you don’t want to miss while you’re in the area’. And that is how a wonderful hiking adventure begins in the southwest part of New Mexico.

We head south towards Deming, New Mexico to find Petroglyphs and Fort Cummings. The day truly feels like a hike through time as we first find Petroglyphs aged 750-1100 years old. We drive up Green Leaf Mine Road off of Highway 26. There is a variety of mining evidence visible along the way. That’s an adventure for another day. We continue on with Helen recalling the verbal directions given to her. As described, we come to a second man-made damn and look for the parking lot, which we find easily. There is a kind gentleman (or should I call him a Petroglyphs Hunter) there who points us in the right direction. We gear up and head out. We soon find a rocky hill and start looking around at the boulders. Helen calls out that she’s found Petroglyphs and what follows is a wild period of pointing out drawings to each other – a mesmerizing hunt which the man we met in the parking lot soon joins. We have found the bulk of the Petroglyphs he has researched and hoped to find and we spend time photographing and talking and just being fascinated.

The footprint on the right is from my walking stick and the one on the right is someone else's footprint!

As I commonly do, at one point, I touch one of the shapes and close my eyes and try to imagine the person who made the drawing and their life. I did it at the Coliseum in Rome, at the Gila Cliff Dwellings, in a Mosque in southern Spain and now here on Pony Hill in New Mexico. I can’t begin to comprehend their difficulties and struggles.

Our new friend, Bill, took us a few hundred yards away and showed us the Petroglyphs he had found earlier. When we got there, we saw two other men who turned out to be the caretaker of the area and his friend. We spoke a few minutes and the caretaker asked if we had seen the macaw. He took us to the area and we saw many more drawings. Eventually, we had to move on since Fort Cummings awaited us. We exchanged email addresses with Bill, promising to share photographs, and ultimately moved on.

Me, Helen and Elsa with the Macaw Petroglyph - awesome!

We have two sets of directions for Fort Cummings, one from a website and one from a map. We head off and after some dirt road driving, come to a sign that says Hyatt Ranch and sure enough, on the map, right near Ft. Cummings, it has the words, Hyatt Ranch. Okay, we’re in the right vicinity. We head off and soon run into who must be Mrs. Hyatt, who we speak to and she gives her permission for us to reach Ft. Cummings through her ranch gate. Off we go, calling “thank you” behind us. The adventure that begins here is of Thelma and Louise legend. Mrs. Hyatt tells us to go through the gate and go two miles and we’ll be at Ft. Cummings. She also tells us that her road is better than the road we missed, so we can come back through this way on our way out. Sounds easy enough? Either Mrs. Hyatt has not been on her roads for a very long time, or we’re the idiots we think we are. We head out and very soon hit a fork. We pick one and soon find another fork, and another. Mrs. Hyatt, you didn’t mention any of this. We see a newer road that was recently cut and speculate that perhaps this is the way. We climb up this road; I get out and move large rocks out of the SUV’s path. We make it to the top and although the views are SPECTACULAR, there is no sign of a fort. We wind back down, risking our very lives several times (okay, perhaps all the chocolate I ate has me exaggerating a bit…..) and decide to go back towards the beginning of our directions and start over. FINALLY, we find the right road and presently Ft. Cummings appears to our left.

Here is a short overview of the history of Fort Cummings:

http://www.legendsofamerica.com/nm-fortcummings.html

We enjoy exploring the area and reading the descriptions scattered around the area. It’s fascinating and a walk in history back about 150 years. This area of the country may look desolate but it certainly had a lot of humans living here in the past 1000 years!

Helen and Elsa checking out one of the ruins - Cooke's Peak in the distance.

These adobe walls used to be the provision building.

This is the building where the spring is. This is the whole reason for this fort - water!

There are a variety of building foundations, parts of walls, the very important water building and a cemetery that we investigate. Looking at Fort Cummings photos on the internet, I see that it has deteriorated much in a short time.

Deming may be missing an opportunity to have people see this whole area. I can only imagine what some of the side roads hold. As I put some of photographs on Facebook, I’m already getting feedback on other sites in the area, Frying Pan Canyon being one of them. Now doesn’t that name just scream “Wild, Wild West???”

A hard trek up a mountainside - well worth the effort!

2.49 miles / 7.0 hours

53 down / 47 to go

A hike through boulders, riparian area and sandy river beds.

04-02-12 – Saddle Rock Canyon Rd

Shelley has not seen the riparian area out Saddlerock Canyon Rd., so I broke out the turtleneck again today (the weather was in the 30-40’s) and we went out exploring. Steve had shown me this area a while back (see hike #34 on Jan 25); we did a loop hike that day. Today, we did an ‘up-and-return’ hike through the riparian area and on up FR 4088U. As you can see from the photographs, it’s an interesting area with boulders set precariously (aka interesting!), intermingled with sandy river beds that are great on the gluts. There are many trails and old roads to explore in this area and I look forward to many more treks to see them all!

An example of the boulders that teeter througout the protected riparian area.

The whole Burro Mountain area has the soft, sandy ground that is great for a workout. It is much different than the rocky, mountainous northern Gila area where our hazard is loose, unstable rock. The sandy areas remind me of the New Jersey Pine Barrens, a beautiful place to see!

This is the typical landscape as you head past the riparian area to the area beyond.

The water in the riparian area made us wish our dogs came along for the fun! But, errands before and obligations after, made that impossible today.

4.02 miles / 2.0 hours

52 down / 48 to go

An Emotional Hike of the Heart

04-01-12 – Sheep Corral Canyon Hike

 

A meadow we found along Trail 876.

 

Approximately one year ago, Tom Buckley headed off for the adventure of a hiker’s dreams. He started hiking the Appalachian Trail in March 2011, challenging himself to complete the 2180 mile hike of legends in a thru (continuous) hike.  Sadly, his challenge was never completed because on April 11, 2011 Tom never woke up from his tent, apparently the victim of a heart attack. On that day, another challenge started….. for his wife, Mary Ann.

Mary Ann and I are neighbors, but I didn’t really know her. When I heard about Tom’s passing, I brought over a meal, to show support and give a little comfort. Since that day, Mary Ann and I have been hiking together and getting to know each other. It’s strange to start a friendship because of a death. But this is how it started for us. During our hikes, we talked about everything including politics, recipes, work, money, religion, and naturally, loss of a spouse.

Here we are a year later; today we venture out and look for the perfect spot to release Tom’s ashes into the wilderness. This is just a reconnaissance mission; the release day will be shared with a group of Tom’s loved ones in mid-April. We explore several beautiful spots, analyzing the attributes like the two project managers we are.  At the end of the ride, Mary Ann has a short list of stunning locations she likes and she’ll decide which one she’ll use in the coming days. We end our hunt with a hike on a trail up Sheep’s Corral Canyon Rd., walking through pine forests and hills with a light breeze and the deep blue sky of New Mexico.

I suggest that you never avoid the opportunity to reach out to someone in need; you’ll receive more than you give.

 

For more information about the Appalachian Trail Hikers, check out:

http://www.appalachiantrail.org/about-the-trail/2000-milers

 

3.47 miles / 2.0 hours

51 down / 49 to go