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


About Gila Hiker

First I hiked 100 different trails in a year, now I write a monthly article in Desert Exposure about a local hike. Come on out to Silver City..... and bring your hiking gear!

Posted on May 14, 2012, in Challenge, Desert, Gila National Forest, Hiking, Nature, New Mexico, Outdoor Activities, Outdoors, Silver City, Southwest, Uncategorized and tagged , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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