Monthly Archives: May 2012

Hike #62 – Cross Mountain Success!

May 30, 2012 – A smoky hike to the top of Cross Mountain

The Silver City, NM area is currently experiencing heavy smoke conditions due to the Whitewater-Baldy Fire happening to our west and north. It was likely started by a lightning strike and has grown to 152,000 acres (238 square miles!) For more information on this event, check out:  http://www.inciweb.org/incident/2870/

Even though the smoke was scratching my throat, my muscles and my dog were itching to go for a hike. I haven’t hiked since May 12th — 18 days — and I truly needed a hiking fix. Lynn was also ready for some activity so we headed out towards Cross Mountain. A few hikes ago, (see hike #60 on May 9th) I walked Cross Mountain Rd and then afterwards made some inquiries as to how it got its’ name. Apparently, a rather large white cross is on top of a mountain there which I missed during my first investigation.

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With directions from Tyler Connolly, we set out on a hike. Lynn and I haven’t seen each other in a long time so it was good to catch up. The trail meandered along an old road and we finally reached a marker, just as Tyler described. We climbed up the slope, through the trees, passing the white-markings on the trees as the path rises. Now I could make all kinds of remarks about ascending upwards towards the heavens, reaching towards the light, being closer to GOD, and all that, but I won’t….. that would be too cliché.

We are rewarded with a hazy, smoky view to the south and a beautiful white cross. And for you few people who told me, “You can’t miss it”, we never saw it until we were on top of the mountain. When we later looked from the road below, it was barley visible – VERY easy to miss. Perhaps it was the gray, smoky sky that had us missing it; maybe it was a sign from above that I just didn’t receive.

Here is a reprint of the story of the cross:

Cross Mountain does not appear on most maps, and tourists driving the narrow road that winds through the old mining town of Pinos Altos rarely look up. But even when no one sees it, a tall white cross on this high mountain peak keeps solitary vigil in the same spot Santiago Brito placed the first – a big wooden cross – as a sign of peace between settlers and the nearby Apaches. It is believed that this first cross was covered with tin so the sun and moonlight would keep it always visible.

The cross quickly changed into a religious symbol, and townspeople made pilgrimages to the top – some climbing barefoot up the steep, rocky mountainside. The people called the church they were building in 1888 the Holy Cross Church, even though technically it was St. Alexis.

Each year on the eve of Holy Cross Day (May 3), bonfires were lighted at the church and up near the cross as sticks of dynamite were set off alternately between the two locations. The following morning a Mass was held, followed by a procession of the faithful up the mountain, winding their way as they recited the rosary. Children were kept out of school in order to take part in this celebration, and families shared picnic lunches on the mountaintop before starting the long walk back together.

Time and weather took their toll on the first wooden cross, and in 1907 Frank Bell, son-in-law of Santiago Brito, replaced it with a new wooden one.

Manuel Gutierrez was born in the shadow of the Bell cross and grew up watching the white paint fading away as the wood deteriorated. It had stood for 50 years, and he knew it couldn’t survive much longer. He wanted to do more than merely replace it with another cross of wood. He wanted something that would last long after he was gone. The iron cross that he and a few friends created is the one you see today, standing tall on the mountaintop near the stump of that first cross – a sign of hope and peace, of peregrinaciones y promesas.

To reach Cross Mountain, take N.M. 15 (Pinos Altos Road) out of Silver City to Pinos Altos; continue on N.M. 15 to a street sign on the right that marks the turnoff. A dirt road (bear right at the fork) will take you to the base of the mountain where the walking trail upward begins. To see the remains of the Bell cross, visit the Log Cabin Museum (now known as the Pinos Altos Historical Museum) on Main Street in Pinos Altos, 575-388-1882.

This article was written by Jody Lyons-Cline and published in New Mexico Magazine in May 2001.

2.95 miles / 2.5 hours

62 down / 38 to go

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Hike #61 – Gila National Forest – South Ridge of Water Canyon

May 11, 2012 – I’m afraid of the big bad wolf…….

We are camping out in Water Canyon again and I was determined to climb the same ridge where I got lost 2 months ago. (for more information: https://100hikesinayear.wordpress.com/2012/03/12/dont-be-a-stupid-hiker-like-me/). I started up the same hill and realized that I wasn’t hiking alone, my friends Fear, Wimpy, Anxiety and Whiner had joined me. No less than 5 times, Anxiety stopped, looked up and considered turning around. Fear wanted me to go back and sit at the comfortable campsite, and Whiner was too hot and said “Let’s try again tomorrow in the early, cool morning”.

Even though I had a very distinct plan A and plan B for getting down, I was scared. I hate being scared! I hate being a wimp. I hate thinking I can’t do something. I got mad and then I got myself moving upwards and when I hit the halfway mark, I decided, I was already halfway up, may as well go the whole way.

I had forgotten how steep it was – and I was on the least steep hill I could find. I zigzagged my way up, stopping no less than 20 times for breathe. My two plans were, marking the Beejeesus out of the path up (remember that forgotten step on March 9th?) or, coming down the way I came down last time – which was following the cow trail. I easily found the way up, climbing up boulders through the cliff and on to the top. I added two bright orange bandanas to my pack just for this moment. I marked more spots than a purebred dog in the suburbs! I way pointed the spot on my GPS, I tied bandanas to trees, I put 4-5 cairns along the path and I even put a large branch on the old road up there, marking where I should turn off.

 

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The dogs and I went east this time and stayed on the road (not really a road, more like 2 tire tracks in the field). It is a beautiful place to be and I enjoyed long distance views, meadows and trees. The time came to turn around right after I saw a large dog through the brush. More movement and I realized it wasn’t a dog at all…. A wolf! Many things happened at the same time. It looked at me, turned and ran, my dogs took chase, and I yelled for the dogs to come back. I unholstered my gun — ready if necessary, I thought about wolves and their packs and that thought panicked me. My plan was to shoot in the air if I started hearing fighting through the trees, and hope that broke things up. With much relief, the dogs returned quickly and we high tailed it back to our turn off point, my head swiveling to look behind often. I thought that maybe it was a coyote, but it was bigger than 70 pound Cisco dog…..and the campsite poll that night was for the wolf. I just reviewed photographs of both coyotes and wolves and I’m pretty sure I saw a wolf.

That night, drinking a glass of wine, I realized…… this ridge kicks my butt, chews me up and spits me out – -that’s twice now!

2.99 miles / 3.0 hours

61 down / 39 to go

Hike #60 – Cross Mountain Rd. – Gila National Forest

May 9, 2012 – Cross Mountain Road Hike – FR 4258

I decided to try to find the access point to the CD trail heading north and east off of Highway 15. The map shows it very near Cross Mountain Road so I head out with Cody on a blustery morning. I easily find Cross Mountain Road since it’s got a street sign and I pull in, but the road quickly turns too rough to drive. We park and head up, hoping to find the CD Trail marker along the way. There are several side roads and I look forward to exploring them in the future, but today I consistently select the path that heads uphill when I have to choose. The entire trip, I look for CD markers but never find any; that is a hunt for another day I suppose.

 

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The old road has a lot of wood chips; the forest service must have done a large amount fire abatement clearing recently. As I climb, I see several long-distance views. I’ve never seen the town of Pinos Altos in its entirety before. It has more buildings than I realized and I didn’t know it is sitting on a hillside. I continue up further and see views to the east of The Kneeling Nun, to the north of the forest. At one point, I look down and see a few ravens soaring high above the ground. It’s a little crazy to think that I am looking down at soaring birds. I’m sure there’s a poem in there somewhere.

I come to a huge water tank and investigate. I was hoping to find building foundations or mines or something, but nothing more than a water tank and several rusty well heads.

When I got home, I decided to look Cross Mountain on the internet and find a cool story about a cross – a large cross that I never saw. Here is the story:

 

 

Cross Mountain does not appear on most maps, and tourists   driving the narrow road that winds through the old mining town of Pinos Altos   rarely look up. But even when no one sees it, a tall white cross on this high   mountain peak keeps solitary vigil in the same spot Santiago Brito placed the   first – a big wooden cross – as a sign of peace between settlers and the   nearby Apaches. It is believed that this first cross was covered with tin so   the sun and moonlight would keep it always visible.

The cross quickly changed into a religious symbol, and townspeople made   pilgrimages to the top – some climbing barefoot up the steep, rocky   mountainside. he people called the church they were building in 1888 the Holy   Cross Church, even though technically it was St. Alexis.

Each year on the eve of Holy Cross Day (May 3), bonfires were lighted at the   church and up near the cross as sticks of dynamite were set off alternately   between the two locations. The following morning a Mass was held, followed by   a procession of the faithful up the mountain, winding their way as they   recited the rosary. Children were kept out of school in order to take part in   this celebration, and families shared picnic lunches on the mountaintop   before starting the long walk back together.

Time and weather took their toll on the first wooden cross, and in 1907 Frank   Bell, son-in-law of Santiago Brito, replaced it with a new wooden one.

Manuel Gutierrez was born in the shadow of the Bell cross and grew up   watching the white paint fading away as the wood deteriorated. It had stood   for 50 years, and he knew it couldn’t survive much longer. He wanted to do   more than merely replace it with another cross of wood. He wanted something   that would last long after he was gone. The iron cross that he and a few friends   created is the one you see today, standing tall on the mountaintop near the   stump of that first cross – a sign of hope and peace, of peregrinaciones y   promesas.

To reach Cross Mountain, take N.M. 15 (Pinos Altos Road) out of Silver City   to Pinos Altos; continue on N.M. 15 to a street sign on the right that marks   the turnoff. A dirt road (bear right at the fork) will take you to the base   of the mountain where the walking trail upward begins. To see the remains of   the Bell cross, visit the Log Cabin Museum (now known as the Pinos Altos   Historical Museum) on Main Street in Pinos Altos, 575-388-1882.

This article was written by Jody Lyons-Cline and published in New Mexico   Magazine in May 2001.

3.32 miles / 2.15 hours

60 down / 40 to go

Gomez Peak Hike – Gila National Forest

5-6-12 – The Classic Gomez Peak Trail

A cackle of cacti on the path

More than likely, every activity has its’ classic. Italian cooking has tomato sauce; bike racing has The Tour De France. Well, hiking near Silver City has Gomez Peak…..and that’s the trail we hit on Sunday morning. There is a whole easy-to-follow signed trail system, a bulletin board of information, a large rentable picnic area with gazebo, abundant parking and bathrooms. We aimed for the trail that leads us to the peak and set out for a lovely walk that began through tall trees and shaded paths. The trail begins just 5 miles north of town and so we expected to meet people along the way. I kept the leash nearby and we greeted two groups of hikers during the 2.45 hour trip.

 

An Agave with a shoot coming up – I want to see that in a few days when it blooms!

 

Me and Cody with Bear Mountain in the background

 

This hike is doable in 1.5 – 2 hours if you don’t stop often for photo ops, and don’t sit up top gabbing for half an hour. But with the views we saw, sitting and enjoying them is part of the experience…. And we’re females; we had important stuff to talk about!

What is this foundation on top for? Does anyone know?

 

The monastery and the mountains.

 

The trail switch-backs its’ way up the sides of the cone shaped mountain, first with stunning views to the north, then the south, all the while climbing upwards. The final portion is a staircase (thanks to the trail maintenance people!) that resembles the climb that Frodo and Sam took before meeting Shelob the spider.  Gomez’ trek isn’t as scary though! We are rewarded with a summit rest and 360 views.

 

A view of “The Kneeling Nun”

 

Silver City from the peak

 

I couldn’t resist stopping on the way home to take a photograph of today’s accomplishment.

 

I plan to come back and explore some of the lower trails – there are nice trails that stay in the shade and trees that I want to get to know.

 

3.35 miles / 2.45 hours

59 down / 41 to go

Hiking Tips shared in local newspaper

I just wanted to share an article that was written about me and hiking safety in our local newspaper, The Silver City Sun News.

Check it out at: http://www.scsun-news.com/ci_20521508