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?
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
Posted on September 6, 2012, in Challenge, Gila National Forest, Hike, Nature, New Mexico, Outdoor Activities, Outdoors, Silver City, Southwest and tagged challenge, Gila, Gila Wilderness, hike, hiking, New Mexico, Pinos Altos, Silver City, Southwest. Bookmark the permalink. 4 Comments.