Monthly Archives: June 2012
June 28, 2012
Lynn and I took Orfa in search of water on Cherry Creek. We entered it where the creek crosses below Highway 15 and heads SW towards Bear Creek. It’s a hike I’ve done before that is shaded, relatively flat (the knees were happy!) and usually has water in it. Orfa was disappointed to find very little water and what little puddles there were, Mom wouldn’t let her explore. What? You don’t want your dog drinking green scum? I don’t understand. (Yuck!)
We enjoyed catching up; we haven’t had a chance to talk in way too long! We also enjoyed walking through the woods, checking out interesting rock outcroppings and climbing a few boulders. At first the trail is well worn but as the creek narrows, the boulders close in, the plants overgrow where the empty spots used to be, and we climbed and bush wacked around a bunch of boulders for a while.
I guess Orfa will have to wait a week or two for monsoon season to begin to cool off in the water.
It has been brought to my attention that there are advertisements in my blog entries. I do not add them, I do not want them, and if anyone could tell me how to get rid of them I would appreciate it!
1.3 miles /2.0 hours
72 down /28 to go
If you drive up Highway 15 for a few (somewhere between 13 and 16) miles, you will see a sign for Meadow Creek on the right. There is a good dirt road which my Rav-4 could drive up for several miles, and then the road starts getting “brave 4-wheel driver” on you. This is a pleasant area, and in this June heat, pleasant means shady. There are a variety of side trails off the road that I plan on exploring in the future. Today, Lucy and I walked the road which wound down to the creek which had water in it. There was plenty of green grasses in the moisture and Cody enjoyed splashing a bit. At one point, we saw an area which had standing, dead trees; it must have been a past burned area.
Between reading “A Walk in the Woods” by Bill Bryson and “Fire Story” by Phil Connors, I’ve been thinking a lot about the human/wilderness connection. Recently, when Pamela and I were hiking, we got talking about humans’ place in the animal kingdom. She talked about having guilt at what some humans did to nature. I kinda feel like we’re part of nature and what we do in nature is part of the process too (to a reasonable degree). Maybe we shouldn’t stop the extinction of animals; it’s part of the cycle. In the book, “Fire Season” Phil Connors was talking about the affect of grazing on the wilderness areas. The cattle grazed and caused certain negatives like erosion, trampling of delicate riparian areas and such. Wolves are killed for killing the cattle. If there are not as many wolves, then there is an explosion of the deer population which affects the vegetation. And this cycle made me think about what is right. No one correct answer; no one correct solution.
The Black Range is in the eastern part of the Gila National Forest and consists of over 550,000 acres of wilderness. Highway 152 works its way through the mountain range, reaches up to Emory Pass, and then cascades down the other side toward Interstate 25. Locals and visitors know this area well and discuss “going over the Black Range versus going around the long way”. The road can be brutal for folks who get car sick – it’s a windy one – but beautiful. I’ve only been through here a handful of times on my way to or from Albuquerque or Magdalena. I’ve always found it to be stunning. There are many dramatic vistas and outcroppings, valleys and canyons to ooooh and ahhh over.
I wanted to make sure I had at least one of the 100 here in the Black Range (more, if feasible) so we got up early and drove an hour to the Railroad Canyon trailhead. Another reason I wanted to check it out is because it’s the backdrop of the book, “Fire Season” by Philip Connor. It’s a fascinating look at the management of forests and a peaceful description of living in one. If you want to understand more about fires and forests, it’s a fascinating read that will get you thinking.
We parked in the ample lot that had a bathroom, gravel drive, picnic benches and shade. There are several trails to choose from, some staying along the canyon floor and others branching to other canyons or up the sides to the ridgeline. It was promising to be a hot day; we stayed under the trees and walked Trail 129 to 128 and then returned the same way. This trail rises slowly; we started at an altitude of around 7000 and by the time we turned back, we were over 8000.
Now I’m reading “A Walk In The Woods” by a funny man named Bill Bryson. It’s the story of a man who attempted to hike the Appalachian Trail and his experiences with it. It is helping me keep motivated to reach my goal; the guy has my sense of humor and it’s good to laugh at the way he tells the story.
5.32 miles /4.0 hours
70 down /30 to go
June 23, 2012
Continuing my exploration up Highway 15, I went to Meadow Creek today with Cody dog. We walked Forest Road 4255F which meandered uphill and along a ridge through a lovely pine forest with occasional views of Scotts Peak. There must have been some thinning, because I saw lots of stumps throughout the hike. There is plenty more to explore farther up the main road; I only drove about 1.5 miles up the main road.
I must have woken up too early, because I forgot my vest with my GPS, camera and dog supplies in it. It sat at home right near the car, all packed and ready to go. So the reason the photographs are so poor, is I took them with my phone.
Something I learned on a previous hike (#67): when you have a lot of switchbacks on the trail, it can wreak havoc on the GPS map. It looks like you’ve been crossing back and forth across your own path, forgetting briefly that your trail is 3 dimensional and the GPS map just 2.
That had me thinking about the fact that I’ve learned so many things in the past months. I’ve lived here for 12 years and never knew that there were so many beautiful trails, fascinating geological highlights, captivating human history to find here.
On one recent hike, we heard loud clicking. My companion and I thought at first that it was the clicking of rain drops. We put out our hands to feel the rain but there was none. I later learned that it was ‘click beetles”. I had never heard them before.
I’ve also learned about preparedness and safety. What to bring with me, how to mark a trail so you can find your way back, how Advil will help with sore knees, and a fishing vest makes a great carry all! I know how to find water and how very difficult it would be to do so, so be prepared and bring enough water. Being out in the forest has also made me curious to learn more about survival techniques and forest management.
I’ve learned about people who have lived in this area including Indians, miners and ranchers. How miners panned and dug deep for gold all over these mountains. I’ve seen how and where they lived in the wilderness. I’ve seen evidence of Indians and I’ve avoided cattle so as to not disturb local rancher’s livelihoods.
I learned that yarrow grows in the wild; how did I not know that? I learned that my car gets filthy from all these dirt roads. I learned that active dogs need more baths.
To get a little reflective, I’ve learned about me too. I learned to write slightly better than I could, to take a photograph slightly better than I could, to work a technical instrument a lot better than I could (thank you GPS!), a few survival skills which will hopefully never be needed, that my reflexes work under duress (thinking of the wolf encounter here), that my legs look good when they’re in shape and that hiking is not a good way to lose weight, especially when you eat chocolate on the trail.
2.5 miles /2.25 hours
69 down / 31 to go
I’ve heard of people hiking the Little Cherry Creek area, even foraging for eatables. I noticed a handmade sign at the entrance saying “Little Cherry Creek Ranch”. All these years, I thought the road was a driveway. So when Mary Ann pointed it out last week and said it’s her favorite hike, I looked forward to exploring it. And so early on a cool Sunday morning, Dora, Mary Ann, Cody and I pulled in and set out up the road. We were immediately met with views of hoodoos and distant bluffs through the trees. We walked through low areas near the creek and then as the road rose up, large rock faces made the road a 3 sided tunnel. The temperature was noticeable cooler. Ponderosas made their appearance along with foliage of unexpected kinds including poison ivy (careful peeing girls!), oak trees (more like bushes) and watercress.
After the first mile or so, the road takes a sharp turn left towards the ranch and the trail continues straight into the woods and along the creek. I can see why it’s Mary Ann’s favorite hike. It has interesting views, the forest is diverse, and the trail is pleasant and not too difficult. Along with an interesting hike, the conversation was provocative. At the end, we decided that the world leaders should go on a hike and talk it out. If three women in the woods of New Mexico can listen to each other’s views, surely the World leaders can do so too! Might work for our government too.
I have to end this blog now because I squatted in the woods and I have to do a poison ivy check, if you know what I mean.
4.64 miles /4.0 hours
68 down / 32 to go
In my youth, whenever I would want an adventure, I would go sky diving, hot air ballooning, or skiing (got over that one quick!), and then, as I became a scutch more responsible, my adventures turned to traveling: Spain, Italy, France, Belgium. When I began this hiking challenge, I did not anticipate the sense of adventure I would experience. I thought it would be a way to get in better shape, a way to push myself farther. But the adventure bug is really happy when I start a hike I’ve never been on. What will I see, where does it go, what’s around the next bend in the path?
When Pamela contacted me for a hike, she said she wanted to do a hike she never did before and after some research, decided she wanted to aim for the Twin Sisters. The Twin Sisters are well-known here due to their resemblance to Madonna’s bra. What Hoodoos do for the ladies, the Twin Sisters will bring snickers from the men. For all the stats, check out this site: http://www.summitpost.org/twin-sisters-nm/390937
Early on, I decided I liked hiking with Pamela. She brought a map and had written directions off the internet. What a girl scout. Okay, she’s actually on Search and Rescue and I want very much to keep on her good side….just in case. This is my style of hiking. A girl with a plan!
We park far up towards the summit of Signal Peak where there’s a pull off and well-marked CDT signs. This is a continuation of the CD trail from my hike last week with Steve (see Hike #65). We meander up in altitude and through a pine tree forest enjoying the shade on a warm June day. Along the way we see a variety of flowers in bloom and wonderful views. The trail takes a decidedly turn downward and find ourselves down the mountain side and at the base of ‘the girls’. Man, I can think of about 100 pseudonyms to use right now!
We consider the fact that we have a long climb back up to the car and with my knees being sore, decide to honor the mounts from the base. A challenge for another time perhaps. We see a mountain biker from Bisbee along the way, admire his abilities, and head back home.
At one point, we see an odd shape trunk of a tree and Pamela sums it up wonderfully. “That’s like life. It may take an unexpected turn, but then it gets back on track again.”
5.40 miles /4.0 hours
67 down / 33 to go
Mary Ann and I headed up Highway 15 and hiked Tadpole Ridge this morning. A few people have mentioned that this is one of their favorite hikes and as I rise up to the ridge, I start to understand why. The views, at first, peak through the trees. Then, as we reach higher, we start getting clear long range views to knock your socks off. There is a fire scorched section, which is sad to see and there are ferns in place of the trees. Even though it’s a well travelled path, we don’t meet anyone the whole way. The darn thing will go over 8 miles up to Sheep Canyon Corral Rd, but we only make it about 2 miles up and then head back. After the first mile or so, the trail evens out and hugs the side of the ridge. It’s nicely shaded with large pine trees.
It was fascinating to see the long distances, see where there were previous fires, an interesting large patch of light green among a deep green mountainside, a view of Signal Peak and down to the Burro Mountains and Tyrone Mine.
3.75 miles /3.0 hours
66 down / 34 to go
Lately I’ve been hiking up Highway 15 into the Gila National Forest so today, Steve and I headed to Signal Peak Road also called Road 154. We drive up and up and up until I can’t remember if I’ve passed the trail. So we turn around and find Forest Road 4256B and decide to check it out (too many of my hikes start out this way!). It all works out because we hike this old road and hook onto the Continental Divide Trail which takes us along a mountain side where we enjoy many sights including long range views of Cooke’s Peak, Geronimo’s Stronghold, the Santa Rita Mine, a radio tower of some sort, a field of Iris’ and a lovely hike through pine trees. I also enjoyed the altitude which started over 8200 and climbed and dip along the way.
I’m noticing that as I wind down on this challenge (only 3 ½ months left!), I’m starting to toss around concepts for the next challenge. I’m thinking of “500 Miles in a Year” – being so inspired by a woman who is attempting 1000 miles in a year! Check her out at: http://overlyambitiousme.wordpress.com/ As you can read, she’s “overly ambitious” at 1000 miles – I’m a lazy slog at only 500.
My other idea is “100 Walks in a Year” which would expand my hiking to include walking on blacktop sometimes. I’m still trying to decide if 2 hours would be a limit, or instead perhaps 5 miles. We’ll see.
5.0 miles /2.75 hours
65 down / 35 to go
I’ve been exploring the hiking trails north of Silver City on Highway 15 and today I ended up taking a leisurely ramble along Little Cherry Creek. This is the creek that runs along Highway 15 and is fully shaded and cool, which is perfect for a hot summer’s day in the desert southwest. Previously I’ve gone south from the parking area, but never north – – so Cody and I headed out to explore the trail that parallels the highway. I had never seen the camp grounds there (Little Cherry Creek and McMillan) so I ended up checking them out along the way.
Cody and I had a relaxed hike enjoying the grasses in the first part of the hike and then clambering through the arroyo on the upper part. One of the nice things of walking something I normally ride my car through, is that I get to see things from a different perspective. At today’s angle, I enjoyed seeing several hoodoos perching far above me; something I never noticed in my car. Of course, that brings me to the negative part of this hike. Part of my enjoyment in hiking is ‘getting away from it all’ and although today’s hike was beautiful, the intermittent traffic on the highway was disappointing. But hey, I was cool and in the shade and thoroughly enjoyed the green!
2.34 miles /23.0 hours
64 down / 36 to go
June 3, 2012 – A hike with Vicki in the pines
Southwest New Mexico continues to be stressed with smoke from the Whitewater-Baldy Fire that is 30-50 miles to our west. On Saturday, there was a fire on Gomez Peak, just 4-5 miles north of Silver City. The local firemen along with Forest Service, air support, and hotshots had it put out in several hours. Any sane person gets nervous when they hear wildfire. It can get out of hand fast and the dry, hot conditions make it tense at best. Along with all this, I happen to be reading the book, “Fire Season” by Philip Connors. It’s a fascinating look at fire management and the positives/negatives that go with that administration.
On the way to meet Vicki, today’s excellent hiking partner, I passed Gomez Peak and paused to survey the damage. About 50 acres on the north and west side were burned. Once the rainy season starts in July, we should see new growth and green. On May 6th, I hiked it as part of my challenge, and now that I remember the hike and imagine the worst, I hope that the beauty that is Gomez is intact.
Vicki led me on a lovely hike through the pine forest off of Wagon Wheel Lane. She has her regular trails and was kind enough to show me this one. We saw several points of interest including a 1900’s cabin, Preacher’s Point, Bear Mountain, a variety of arroyos and “Tin Town”, a group of old tin buildings next to Arroyo Rico that was an old mining camp. At one point I put my hand against the building and just thought about what was going on here 100 years ago. I imagine toothless miners with panning equipment, and perhaps a mule.
There are many offshoot trails including the CD Trail that I look forward to exploring in the future – it should be spectacular come the rains in July!
3.97 miles / 3.0 hours
63 down / 37 to go