Monthly Archives: September 2012

Hike #100 – “W” Mountain

09-29-12 – “It is not the mountain we conquer, but ourselves.” –Edmund Hillary

On Saturday, September 29, I completed my goal of 100 Hikes in a Year. I couldn’t be more delighted and proud!

If you want to have a fun Saturday, pick a beautiful Fall day, invite a menagerie of hiker friends, entice them with food and booze to celebrate 100 HIKES IN A YEAR, and then head for the “W”.  We gathered at my house at noon and headed north on Niki’s Rd to the cul-de-sac. Julian and Lynn let us traipse through their property and then onto an old dirt road headed south towards “W” Mountain. Some of you (in all probability not from around here…..) may be wondering what I mean by “W” Mountain. North of the town of Silver City there is a mountain with a HUGE “W” painted on it. It stands for Western New Mexico University and each fall, the college kids repaint it a bright white. It is visible from the entire area to the east, south and west of town. It is currently short one white rock which I currently have as a souvenir.

The dirt road travels the western side of the mountains and is washed out and hilly. I believe it currently holds the water lines that supply the homes north of town. I’ve heard, but can’t verify, that it was part of the old railroad that brought oar from the mines north of town.

When we finally got near the “W” and could see it above us, I was happy to reach it and was ready to turn around. But my companions rallied and won the debate to climb up to the “W”. We found the trail that the college kids must use when they paint it each Fall and headed up. I was surprised to see an open mine hole right there near the path that we all checked out before continuing on. It was steep and there were a few missteps but we all eventually made it up there and boy was the view worth it!

First, I noticed how steep our climb had been; the dirt road was directly below us and we towered over it like Snoopy on his dog house. I enjoyed looking out at the Kneeling Nun to the east, the entire town of Silver City and on to Mexico to the south, and the Mountains to the west, Gomez, Eighty, McComas, and Bear. I sat on the white of the “W” and as my friends took a few photos of me and the view, I smiled from ear to ear realizing that today I will finish my one year journey!

At the BBQ afterwards, someone asked me if I was glad or sad that it was over. That’s a hard question to answer. I will miss hiking twice a week and the anticipation of seeing new trails. But in a way, I am glad it’s done. The preparation, hiking, and blogging took a lot of time. And when you’re doing something like this, the goal is to get to the end. So for that, I’m glad I met my goal.

This morning, I straightened up after the party. And then I dismantled my hiking gear. I put Frank’s GPS on his desk. I cleaned Mary Ann’s hiking poles in order to return them to her. I washed and put away my pack. I took the dog cage out of my car and realized, boy does my car need to be cleaned!

A few stats:

Total Hours hiked: 272.73

Total miles: 385.36

Hiking partners: 23

Joined me on the most hikes: Mary Ann at 26

Cody Hike total: 65

Starting in January, Frank and I will walk, hike or bicycle 500 miles in a year. We can duplicate trails this time and walk on concrete or blacktop in addition to dirt trails. It should be a fun one, why don’t you join us?

I’d like to say thank you to all of you who made this such a fun experience; I appreciate your encouragement, advice, support and friendship. But now, I have GOT to go and clean that car!!

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4.10 Miles / 2.5 Hours

100 down/0 to go

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Hike #99 – Trail 231 – Gila National Forest

09-26-12 – Up Sheep’s Corral Canyon Rd – 6.6 Miles

I enjoy hiking with Pamela; there’s always good conversation. We traveled up Highway 15, turned onto Sheep Corral Canyon Rd, and drove slowly since we were following a Forest Service track that was dragging a 4 wheeler behind it. About halfway up, we saw many Forest Service vehicles parked with horse trailers and equipment. After watching the Forest Service Calvary go off into the woods for parts unknown, Pamela and I parked at the sheep corral and hiked Trail #231, which is behind the corrals and partially hidden. This trail slowly drifts down into Goat Canyon and is pleasant and cool. We enjoyed the tall pines, various flowers, some interesting rock faces and wild strawberry plants. The hike involved climbing over a huge tree trunk and some up and down hills, but nothing too strenuous.

This area is worth exploring further; there were several off shoot trails from this one that looked interesting.

We ended the day watching a Wild Turkey Brigade march off into the field. Made me hungry…….

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3.33 Miles / 2.75 Hours

99 down/1 to go

Hike #98 – Tadpole Ridge – Gila National Forest

09-23-12 – First hike of autumn!

Last December we went to a Winter Solstice party where I got talking to a few hikers and ended up writing trail notes on the back of a paper plate. One of those suggestions was Tadpole Ridge. Why I just got to it now, I don’t know. But when I started thinking about hikes I wanted to be included in “The 100”, Tadpole was among them, so Dora and I did it today.

This trail has access points (1) 6.6 miles up Sheep Corral Canyon Rd, and (2) on Highway 15 right near the Signal Peak trailhead, with 8.5 beautiful miles between them. We decided to drive up to the top and hike a few miles and then turn around and head back.

The trail is uphill for the first 2 miles; we went from an altitude of 7200 to over 8400 in those 2 miles! But oh was it worth it! At first, we meandered through the woods and it started drifting upwards. Then we began a knee-bracingly steep climb up the side of the mountain. Long range views peaked out through the trees. Once up top, we met 2 other hikers doing the same thing we just did. After a short chat, we continued on and came to Tadpole Lake (okay, who names these things??? It’s a stock pond) and enjoyed a break. We went a bit further, enjoying the more flat ridge and its views in all directions. I was happy to see that many of my photographs came out; the views are really worth it. At one point, we came to another trail called Sycamore; I’d like to check that one out in the future!

Ponder me this: Will someone explain to my dog that the icky water she didn’t want to drink from the pond was the same water she willingly drank from her bowl? Is she getting particular in her old age?

Ponder me this too: After all this hiking, why are my knees still sore and I still get winded at steep climbs? I really thought I’d be in better shape by now!

 

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4.88 Miles / 4.0 Hours

98 down/2 to go

Hike #97 – Forest Road 4259N – Past Gila

09-19-12 – We’ll find a trail to hike come hell or high water!

After a 3 week visit to Florida, Sharon returned and joined me on today’s hike. The plan (ahem), was to go out to Cliff, turn on to CR211 and then on to Sacaton Road. I had hiked off the road to the right, so I wanted to try the one to the left. Well, that ended at several adamant looking “No Trespassing” signs. So we doubled back and took the road to the right, figuring we would just hike a different trail. After passing the not-gross-at-all dead cow in the field (rigor mortis and all), we wind down into the valley (fascinating and wonderful to view) and eventually come to the Gila River. It’s running strong and has taken out the road. To further discourage us, there were deep ruts where a truck got stuck. Okay, this isn’t going to work. Where’s the map????

We wind up over on CR153 and enter the forest. It heads up to Turkey Creek, but we’ve been in the car for 2 hours and are ready for a hike. When we see a sign for FR 4259N, we pull over and get going already! I put an orange t-shirt on Cody and we’re off!

We are firmly entrenched in ranch country and regularly see cattle. The day is warm after a week of cool September weather and I’m sunburned by the end of the day. We walk up an arroyo/road and enjoy views of mountains, low brush and rock hopping. After an hour or so, we see a white structure in the distance and head for it. It turns out to be an old cement water tank. We check it out and continue on. I see what resembles the remnants of an old road and we follow it for a while until we start seeing evidence of old structures: another water tank, a barrel, an old iron stove, tin and wood on the ground. We stop under a tree for a break and when I turn to sit, I see an old tin building through the trees. We check it out and find various debris including, an old metal bed frame, some more wood and tin sheets.

After exploring the area a little more, and getting bitten by a bunch of Mesquite in the area, we head back to the car, counting cattle the whole way back. And oh, that t-shirt that Cody was wearing? Torn in 3 places, stained in about 15 more!

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3.99 Miles / 2.25 Hours

97 down/3 to go

Hike #96 – Magdalena Ranch Land – 09-15-12

Every September, Frank and I head up to Magdalena, NM for a 3-day Cowboy Action Shoot with our friends, The Magdalena Trail Drivers. It’s a beautiful place with cholla-filled rolling hills, big sky and stately mountains in the distance. The weather all week-end is perfect: sunny, cool and a slight breeze. I love September!

The dogs and I head out in the opposite direction of the shooting range and find a range of our own. This is cattle country; Magdalena was once the hub of cattle round-ups and still remains a cowboy’s dream. The ground is soft after a good rain the day before; it’s nothing like our rocky Gila home field. The dogs sink in near some animal holes, prairie dogs, squirrels or similar. I see a hill in the distance with a gnarly dead tree on top and decide to head for it. Twenty minutes later I’m next to the tree and enjoy the view. Now I see a corral and barn off in the distance and decide to check that out. Along the way, we find a dirt road (okay, it’s actually two wheel treads in the dirt), a few water barrels for cattle, and a salt lick. The dogs drink from the barrels and I from my water bottle.

Cisco finds a stock pond and does his usual cooling off in it. When Cody’s feet get wet, she does what she always does, becomes a prissy girly girl and jumps out and shakes the icky water off her paws, then runs back to me for reassurance. We sit for 10 minutes and head on back to enjoy the first-rate company at camp.

When we got home from our week-end in Old Magdalena, I found out that Mary Ann, the person who has hiked with me for 25 of my 100 hikes, broke her leg while walking a steep part of her property this week-end. Ouch! She had to drag herself back to her house where she called a friend for help. She’ll be out of action for at least 6 weeks, and then have to work herself back up to hiking strength!

 

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3.84 Miles / 2 Hours

96 down/4 to go

Hike #95 – Gila National Forest – Burro Mountains

09-11-12 – Saddlerock Canyon Road

Today, I took Cody for a hike in the Saddlerock Canyon Road area. This is in the Burro Mountains, in a sandy area, with dramatic scenery. There are canyons, soft riverbeds, huge rock formations, and hills to take in as you move along. I parked the car on the side of the road and we walked the deserted and desert-like road for a mile or so, and then explored some side roads including 4242I, 118A and 118. I would love to bring a geologist out here to describe some of the rocks and formations; they’re fascinating! We also enjoyed fields of flowers: Mexican Sunflower, Globe Mallow, and something purple.

Has any blogger posting today, not mentioned the importance of this day to America? I doubt it. I will never forget that day and how Frank and I stood in Newark Airport; our flight halted, and watched the towers collapse. Absolutely horrific. I remember thinking, “how can there be such hate in the world?” To all those who survived this event, and all those who lost loved ones, please know that our thoughts are with you today.

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4.62 Miles / 2.25 Hours

95 down /5 to go

Hike #94 – Gila National Forest – Emory Pass area

Trail #79 to Trail #146 –The Grandview Trail

Yeah, yeah, I know. I said we were going to do Sawyer’s Peak. If I told you we changed our minds due to the weather, would you believe me? Or would you think we came to a “Y” in the trail and didn’t know which way to take and took the wrong one? And with the map in the car. But it worked out well, because the weather was cloudy which turned into fog and then started to drizzle. So Sawyer’s Peak would be better to do on another day. Like any of the other 363 days around here, all of which are sunny!

To get to this trail, take Highway 152 to Emory Pass. Park in the small parking area on the highway next to all the forest signage talking about Emory Pass. You will see a trail on the east side of the parking area. Take it up, up, up. When you get about 2 miles up, there is a “Y” in the trail. The trail to the left, Trail 79, is the one that goes to Sawyer’s Peak. The one to the right, Trail 146, goes down into Silver Creek Canyon and comes out at a stunning vista – ergo the trail name “Grandview Trail”.

This trail, right from the highway, is heavily wooded and shady. It rises over a 2 mile distance from an altitude of 8200 to the highest point (where the “Y” is), at 9100. As we turned onto 146, the trail goes decidedly downhill into Silver Creek Canyon. There is lush landscape with moss on the tree trunks, mushrooms sprouting up, fungi on trees and many interesting plants and flowers. We even saw some Blue Spruce. At the end of the trail, we were rewarded with a…. well….. a grand view. The area started getting rocky with boulders and cliffs along the edges of our canyon. Suddenly, the sky is visible, the canyon drops down dramatically and looking out, we saw far into the distance to the Kneeling Nun. We pointed out little caves to each other, sat and had lunch, and wished Cody had joined us.

On the way back, we were challenged to an uphill trek (nailed it!) and then a long downhill, rain-sodden ramble through fog to the car.

I’m tired, but happy. And now I’m going to make my husband his birthday meal, Burnt Macaroni. Take boiled cauliflower and pasta, drain it. Add way too much butter, salt and pepper. Put in a very hot oven until it’s very brown on top (an hour, hour-and-a-half). Add romano cheese and devour!

 

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6.58 Miles / 5.0 Hours

94 down /6 to go

Hike #93 – Gila National Forest – Highway 15, MM 16

Leash on, Leash off…..

 

For all of you who are interested in stats (ok, maybe that’s just me….) I passed over the 250 Hour Mark and the 350 Mile Mark today!

Today’s hike was fairly eventful! The dogs and I drove up Highway 15 to MM 16. On the right side of the road, just past the mile marker sign, there are two Forest Roads. I took the one on the right and enjoyed a gentle rise through the pine trees. Within ten minutes, I hear barking off to my right. Another hiker with a dog, right? Not exactly. The barking turns to a yelping, howling sound and I realize I’ve got a coyote 50 yards off to my right. I’m able to grab the dogs, leash them up, fumble with my poles and get my camera out as I carefully keep the coyote in my sight. I see that it’s not backing off and I start yelling and such to move it along. I now realize that my yelling sounded more like a hysterical cat with its tale stuck in a fan than anything that would frighten a coyote. Upon reflection, the coyote must have been protecting babies; it didn’t give an inch. After attempting a few photo shots, we continue up the road and I eventually let the dogs off leash. Note:  I can’t find the coyote in the photo; maybe you can?

 

Do you see the Coyote? I couldn’t find it.

 

As we continue on this pretty trail, we see beautiful wild flowers, nice long-range views of the Gila, and a stock pond. This hike gently rises and then stays on top of the hill for a while. It then drops down through the trees.

While we’re at the top of the ridge, we reach a fork in the road. I decide to go left but once again I must quickly tether the dogs up. I see a yellow Rubicon through the trees. There’s a hunter out here. I gaze through the trees and see him leaning on the truck hood looking out in the other direction through a scope. I turn back and we head toward the other path. I unhook the dogs for the second time.

Shortly after, I see movement through the trees and a deer bounces off into the woods. I’m shocked that the dogs don’t chase it; I realize they didn’t even notice it. The grasses have grown so high, the dogs can’t see over it, lucky deer. Then it occurs to me that I may have chased that deer into the hunter’s path. I walk along feeling guilty.

I come to another fork and chose the right one. It’s beautiful and feels like a long, narrow meadow more than a trail. The grasses and wild flowers really are high. But, this path peters out after 15 minutes so I head back. I think I hear something making noise to my right so I start whistling to make noise and scare off whatever it is.

Suddenly, I mean SUDDENLY, a man with a bow walks out of the woods and says hello. I grab the dogs and in my least startled voice, respond with an “Oh hello, you surprised me!”  (it may have sounded more like nails on a blackboard…..) Turns out, he and his buddy have shot a buck with a large rack and now they’re looking for it. Alrighty then. I take a photo, tell them I’ll use my whistle if I see it, and continue on. Dogs come off the leash again. I take the path to the left and it comes out on the Highway at about mile marker 19. Time to turn around after we take a ten minute break. I see the hunter one more time; they haven’t tracked down that buck. I’m really relieved that I’m wearing that orange t-shirt Lucy gave me and head back the way I came.

The dogs take a dip in the stock pond and then as we approach the area where we saw the coyote, they get secured up once more.

The last two hikes have been shared with hunters and I don’t know much about how this whole ‘share the forest’ thing works. Are there rules? Laws? Guidelines? I stop by the Gila National Forest offices on my way home. The man explains that there are no guidelines or hunter areas in the forest. We all share it equally. I was hoping that he would show me a map where hunters are allowed, etcetera, but no such luck. I don’t have a problem with hunting; I just don’t want me or the dogs to be harmed. The man tells me that my bright orange shirt is a good idea. Later, at home, I talk to a friend who tells me it would be a good idea to get the dogs something too. Perhaps 2 child-size orange vests are in order.

 

 

 

5.0 Miles / 2.75 Hours

93 down /7 to go

Hike #92 – Gila National Forest – Sheep Corral Canyon Rd – FR 4083T

AKA: Hunter’s Highway

This hike was crowded…. the hunters are out!! We walked on Sheep Corral Canyon Rd way up at about the 5.9 mile mark. We saw many (too many) hunters out for the week-end. There were 5 RV’s up there, one tent, and several ATV’s moving about. Note to self: time to wear my orange t-shirt. Don’t worry Cary, we didn’t hear any shooting; they generally hunt at day break and night fall. Even so, I kept the dogs close by so they weren’t mistaken for targets.

Dora, Cody, Cisco and I hiked partly on the road and the rest of the way on Forest Road 4083T. This area is mountainous and we were continually catching our breaths on the uphill climbs. The landscape is worth it though; there are many pine trees and periodically long-range views peak through the trees. The road gets a little rough in spots but is drivable for most of the way. Just take it slow.

And another good thing: we finally saw the road’s namesake: Sheep’s Corral! There must have been a small community there because we also saw a water holding tank, a second tank, a man-made rock wall, a solar panel (sometimes used for well pumps) and a variety of pipes and such. I am asking some of the locals for how the corral got there, who used it, etc. I just love the old stories! I’ll add to this post if I hear any of the history.

Before we loaded up the car, we explored FR 4083T for about 15 minutes. It looks like a good trail for hikers. I’ll explore it more in the future.

And now it’s time to go to a Labor Day BBQ.

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2.83 Miles / 2.0 Hours

92 down /8 to go