Category Archives: Challenge

April 2016 – CD Trail North from FR 506

So I say to myself, “I need to hike with some young people.” Then I say to myself, “Self, you don’t know that many young people. Oh wait, I rent to a bunch of college students, maybe a couple of them would hike with me.” And that’s how I got lucky one Sunday morning to hike with Micaela Medina and Sage Mays.

Twenty-four year old Mica originally came to Silver City on a basketball scholarship at WNMU. After playing for one year, she got injured and wound up coaching for two years. Now a WNMU alumni, she currently teaches special education at Central Elementary and coaches Basketball at Cobre High School.

Mica and Sage became friends in Albuquerque and came to Silver City together for college. Sage, a 23 year old bilingual woman who’s mother’s family is from El Salvador, is currently a student at WNMU, president of Mustang Entertainment and works at the physical plant at the university. She is majoring in Occupational Therapy and plans to graduate in 2017.

When I asked her why she chose her major, she replied, “I chose my major because I love the field of medicine and I’ve always wanted to make a difference in the world and this is my way of doing that. I tend to do some volunteer work and see where my career takes me.”

Both work out regularly; they also regularly play basketball with friends. Mica sometimes works out in an empty classroom after school with several co-workers. They set up a boxing/cardio video and get their work-out that way. There is also a weight loss challenge happening at the school where teachers and administrative staff have the nurse log in changes.

They are both fine examples of what every young adult should be and if there are more like them out there, our country is going to be just fine. Although a passing comment about how “McDonald’s is so crowded at 3:00a.m.” had me reminiscing about my college days………….

Since Mica and Sage don’t do a lot of hiking here in the area (what?!?), I took them on a hike I really enjoy south of town.

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Hike Description:

Name:  CD Trail – Highway 90 South

Distance:  variable

Difficulty: moderate

Directions: Starting at the intersection of Highway 90 and Broadway, drive south on Highway 90 for 19.8 miles. You will see a brown sign that says “Continental Divide Trail” with an arrow pointing right. Turn in to the parking area and drive to the far (south) side of the parking loop. You will see a CD Trail marker. Park nearby.

Hike Description: This hike will take you up the side of a mountain and is steep in spots. There is sand and loose rock. There are lots of opportunity to enjoy long range views.

Notes:  1) You may consider playing amongst the large boulders along the way.2) Also, as you drive through the parking lot you will notice several other hiking trails to explore.

About the Continental Divide Trail:

You may have noticed more hikers in town lately. April is when many of the CD Trail thru hikers begin their challenge. They restock and rest in Silver City before heading north and entering the Gila. April 15-17 was the Continental Divide Trail Coalition Trail Days events so you surely noticed the activity downtown that weekend! I most often notice the thru-hikers as they start walking up Alabama S. towards the CD Trail access point off of Bear Mountain Rd.

Some CD Trail Facts:

-The 3100 mile trail was established in 1978.

-There are 770 miles of Continental Divide Trail in New Mexico.

-Annually, approximately 150 people attempt to complete an end-to-end trail in one stretch.

-In order to complete it, you would have to hike an average of 17 miles a day (every day for about 6 months).

 

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November 2014 – Trail 96 near Lake Roberts

Hunting for Hiking Real Estate

Exploring Trail 96 near Lake Roberts with Robin Thomas.

Robin Thomas and her family have lived in the Mimbres Valley for over 17 years. Drawn here from Madison, Wisc., by her grandparents, she fits right in to the outdoor lifestyle — enjoying fishing, four-wheeling, camping, hiking, hunting, cross-country skiing and horseback riding. When I asked her why she loves the outdoors, she explained, “It’s the best thing I’ve found for stress relief after a challenging day in real estate.”

During this year, I’ve observed one thing about hiking with new people: We focus on different things when on a trail. Personally, I enjoy the awesome views; others are looking for birds, plants, photo opportunities, adventure or a challenge. When I hiked with Robin, I learned a lot about what a hunter is looking at and for.

When we got together, she apologized for being a few minutes late because she had to stop and wait for a flock of turkeys to move off the road. As I got in the car, she added, “Looks like it’s going to be a good Thanksgiving!” As we hiked, she pointed out elk markings: scat, tree rubbings, tracks in the mud, and crushed grass under a tree. As we looked down into the canyon below, she pointed out a lush meadow: “That’s an ideal place to see a herd of elk.”

She was likewise knowledgeable about plants, showing me chamisa, tasting some wild oregano, and commenting that the wild pink cosmos were just past their bloom.

Name: Trail #96

Distance: various

Difficulty: moderate

Directions: The trailhead is located on Hwy. 35 approximately 1.5 miles south of Lake Roberts, between mile markers 21 and 22. On the north side of the highway, you will see a pull-off and a brown road marker that says, “4206S.” On Hwy. 35, there is a brown “hiker” sign that indicates that this is Trail 96.

Hike description: The wooden entrance gate is where you’ll begin this hike. It is a well-cairned hike that starts by walking through a chamisa field, enters the Gila Wilderness, then meanders along the canyon floor with stunning rim rock looming high above. The trail gradually heads up to the top of the ridge where you can look down at the red rock cliffs.

Notes: You may take this trail 10-plus miles to Hwy. 15 (near Clinton Anderson Lookout), so consider putting it into “two-heel drive,” bring some nourishment and hike on! There are many photographic opportunities. You may want to bring binoculars to search the caves across the canyon. This is part of the Military Road, which I understand is an old Army double-track built in the late 19th century to supply military outposts on the Gila River.

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Tell us about a particularly memorable hiking experience: “When I was 19-20 years old, we were backpacking in Rain Canyon, near Glenwood, off of Sacaton Road. The first incident was finding a bear trap in the river, which, luckily, no one tripped. The next morning, a lightning/rain storm came through. It was a pretty miserable, intense return hike out of the steep canyon, gear getting heavier and wetter by the minute. We finally made our way back to the car with much relief, until our dog started chasing cattle and couldn’t be found for over an hour. It was just one of those memorable hikes that did not work out, so we re-grouped and headed to the White Mountains of Arizona for some trout fishing.”

During our hike, Robin also shared some memories of her childhood: “I didn’t officially hunt until around age 21. Dad gave me a 16-gauge shotgun to go on my first spring turkey hunt. When I was a young girl I would tag along with my father on his pheasant-hunting trips in Wisconsin. I suspect I was along to flush birds in the corn fields. Sometimes I would go with my grandmother rabbit hunting in the early 1970s when she lived in the desert near Alamogordo. Ranchers would kill too many coyotes, and then the rabbits would overrun the ranch and my grandfather’s garden. We would go out at sunset in her VW Karmann Ghia with the top down, Grandpa driving and her sitting up on the back of the convertible. She was quite a shot with her 4-10 shotgun, especially when it came to rattlesnakes.”

Robin is a Realtor with Prudential Real Estate and has an office in the Mimbres Valley between mile markers 3 and 4. I bet if you contacted her, she’d share some of her deep knowledge of the area and point you to some good trails.

I found her to be an excellent hiking partner. She described many different hikes along the Mimbres Valley that got my feet twitching with anticipation of good hikes to come. I hope that if I promise to put my best boot forward, she’ll invite me to go with her again.

 

This is a reprint of the November 2014 article that was published in Desert Exposure.

 

October 2014 – Bill Evans Lake — Forest Road 4233E

Recipe for a Good Hike

Walking near Bill Evans Lake with chef Rob Connoley

I love to cook, I love to eat and I love to hike, so when I recently had the opportunity to forage with local chef and owner of The Curious Kumquat, Rob Connoley, I jumped at the chance. He says that hiking keeps him thin, but for him it’s really all about his dog, Lexi (short for Miss Lexington Elizabeth Connoley). I got a good workout keeping up with his pace, and since he’s 6’3″, it’s quicker than most hikers.

As we walked along, he regularly stopped mid-sentence to point out a variety of plants: “Oh, good, the hackberries are out” and “I don’t know if I’ll get any oyster mushrooms this year” and “I got the mother lode of green walnuts over that way last week.” At one point he pulled off a few mesquite pods and handed one to me: “Chew it, but don’t swallow it.” All I tasted was the woody outer pod. But then, as it softened, I tasted a pleasant, citrus flavor. He said, “I make syrups, breads and cakes with it,” and moved on.

 

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Connoley walks daily and forages, which he calls “grocery shopping,” for home and restaurant. The plants, berries and seeds he gathers include mushrooms (he carries a mushroom field guide with him on all walks), mesquite, amaranth, poppy seeds, watercress, cattails and much more. When he opened the restaurant, he was interested in using local products as much as possible, which led him to learn about what was grown here in the past and what is currently available in the wild. He’s been experimenting and pleasing palates ever since.

I spoke with the Gila National Forest office and they informed me that the only items you need a permit to forage are prickly pears and piñon nuts.

I also did some research and found out how Bill Evans Lake, where we went hiking, got its name. Evans was an attorney at Phelps Dodge in the 1960s who was instrumental in acquiring land/water rights for the company, which built the reservoir, diverted water from the Gila, and pumped the water more than 12 miles uphill to the Tyrone Mine operations site.

Name: Bill Evans Lake — Forest Road 4233E

Distance: Three-plus miles

Difficulty: Easy

Directions: Starting at the intersection of Hwy. 180 and Little Walnut Road in Silver City, drive west on Hwy. 180 for 26 miles. You will see a brown sign for Bill Evans Lake, just past mile marker 88. Turn left onto Bill Evans Lake Road. Drive 3.6 miles and bear right onto Newby Road. Drive 2.2 miles and after a turn around a bend/cliff, on the right you will see a small dirt road drop-off. A brown maker for Forest Road 4081Y is partly hidden in the brush on the right. Drive 0.4 miles to 4233E, staying left. Park at the end of the road, where you will see a green gate. There is a brown “walk-through” gate for easy access. Walk along this road/trail. You can’t get lost if you keep the cliff on your left and the drop-off and river on your right on the way in.

Hike description: This is an easy, shaded walk along the Gila River with many photo opportunities. Expect to climb over a few downed trees. I suggest that you have the tall skinny guy lead so he can clear out any cobwebs. We saw a beautiful crane, a black hawk, bear scat and elk tracks along the way. At the 0.9-mile mark, go right (not up the hill to the left). It may appear to be blocked by a huge, downed tree, but look carefully and go through the hidden passage. After going through a few gates, you will come up out of the trees and walk along a dirt road. Stay right and you will soon come to a National Forest sign that says: “Gila River Bird Habitat Management Unit.” Walk down the short path and enjoy a cove of trees and access to the river. You may turn back or continue on at this point.

Tell us about a particularly memorable hiking experience:  “I’m the kind of person that likes to push my limits and one day I decided to take a long hike up past Moon Ranch. I was accustomed to mountain climbing at high altitudes, so my confidence was high that I could handle this sort of hike. We had walked off trail quite far, and I turned around to go back. After looking for the trail in a zigzag pattern for hours, the sun set and Lexi and I were forced to bed down for the night. I had a Bivy Sack with me just for this purpose. Lexi and I had a rough night of it listening to nearby wildlife and thinking about our predicament.

“In the morning, we continued our search for the trail. After seven hours of looking, I saw a water tower, which is located near the trail, in the distance. We bushwhacked towards it and in order to get to it, had to maneuver down a cliff and through some nasty growth. Relieved, we got back to the car and then back home. When I walked into the house, my partner looked at me stunned: ‘What happened?!’

“I was confused at his response until he pulled me in front of a mirror and I saw that I was covered head to toe in blood. I had thousands of tiny cuts all over me which took weeks to heal.”

Do you hike any differently because of that experience?

“Yes, two things changed after that. I use a GPS on long hikes and provide clearer communication as to where I am and when I’ll be back.”

Good advice, chef.

What’s new at the restaurant?

Rob told me about his first cookbook, due out in late 2015. He’s busy with design, photography, recipes and publishing houses. The cookbook will feature the restaurant’s top recipes using modern preparations of foraged ingredients. Oh, Rob, please tell me that the recipe for the Oaxacan sandwich will be in there!

See a collection of Linda Ferrara’s previous 100 Hikes columns
at www.desertexposure.com/100hikes.

 

August 2014 – Sacaton Creek

Up a Creek

Hiking with Nancy and Ralph Gordon along Sacaton Creek.

I’ve known Nancy Gordon since I moved here 14 years ago, but neither of us can remember when we met. It’s one of those small-town relationships where you know common acquaintances, have attended common events, and have just drifted into knowing each other. I recall passing her and husband Ralph during my 100 hikes. It was hike number 98 and we were climbing the back side of Tadpole Ridge, and Nancy and Ralph were coming down the trail. We stopped briefly and talked and then continued on. So when I saw Nancy at the post office recently, I asked if she would be one of my victims — er, subjects.

The Gordons have lived in Silver City for 22 years. Ralph has a master’s degree in teaching and most recently taught in Lordsburg before retiring. Nancy, who calls herself a professional job hopper, has a master’s degree in civil engineering/hydrology. They’ve been trekking together since their second date 40 years ago (don’t you just love it?). Their list of hikes is long and includes climbing Wheeler Peak (highest peak in New Mexico, coming in at 13,159), ascending Mount Whitney in California (at 14,505, it’s the tallest mountain in the contiguous 48), and hiking in the Grand Canyon and in Big Bend National Park in Texas. They’ve even backpacked in Australia and through Abel Tasman National Park in New Zealand (after researching this one, I’ve concluded that the Gordons have hiked in paradise!).

 

 

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They are intimately knowledgeable about trails in this area, and so when they agreed to share one of their favorites, I was one happy hiker.

Name: Sacaton Creek

Distance: 4.0 miles, round trip

Difficulty: Moderate

Directions: Starting at the intersection of Hwy. 180 and Little Walnut Road in Silver City, drive west on Hwy. 180 for 43.6 miles. On the right, you will see the Moon Ranch sign. Turn into Moon Ranch (it’s a county maintained road). You will see a sign that says, “Sacaton 10–729.” Stay right at the fork (the left is “729a”). At the 5.8-mile mark, there is a four-way intersection. Stay straight. Drive 2.3 miles to the trailhead.

Hike Description: This is a shaded walk along Sacaton Creek. Enjoy walking through the trees, stop to listen to the birds and look at the wildflowers and check out the old cabin. There are some short uphill climbs, a few downed trees and boulder fields to negotiate, and places to test your trail-finding skills — but other than that, it’s easy going. At mile two you will find large boulders and a good place to lunch next to the creek. Explore the caves in the area. On the way back, see if you can locate the mine.

Notes: As you traverse the creek, you will see evidence of the 2012 Whitewater-Baldy fire. When we went in late June, there was little water and the creek was easy to cross. If the water is flowing when you go, be careful with the crossings. I recommend you bring and use bug repellent. I also suggest you be careful where you step as there is lots of poison ivy (see photo).

I did some research on the name Sacaton. It turns out it comes from the New Mexican Spanish word zacaton, which means fodder grass. Guess who found a book called The Place Names of New Mexico by Robert Julyan at the library? Stay tuned to this column for more fascinating bits about our area.

Describe something unusual that happened on a hike: Ralph and Nancy have had close encounters with black bears on the trail, and both have accidentally stepped on rattlesnakes. Fortunately, all went their separate ways without tribulation.

Tell us what you are doing in retirement: Ralph has been playing golf and battling the bugs, birds, rabbits and deer to supply the neighborhood with vegetables. Both he and Nancy have been restoring the historic Silver City Waterworks on Little Walnut Road for the past four years. Rehabilitating it has turned into a community-wide project, bringing together non-profits, local businesses, more than 100 volunteers, youth conservation groups, town staff, and state and federal agencies. As you can imagine, it has kept Nancy busy applying for grants, organizing volunteers, and learning about historic preservation. Since starting to work on it in 2010, much has been accomplished including: the one-story roof was replaced, the historic front porch reconstructed, and the exterior stone masonry was repointed using lime mortar. The Wellness Coalition’s Youth Volunteer Corps and Aldo Leopold High School’s Youth Conservation Corps have done several landscaping projects and painted the “faux” doors and windows.

For more information about the project, check out the the feature article that appeared in Desert Exposure in January 2011 and Google “Silver City Waterworks.”

This article was originally  published in Augist 2014 issue of Desert Exposure.

April 2013 – CD Trail from FR506 to Bear Mountain Road

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Name: CD Trail, from FR506 to Bear Mountain Road
Distance: 5.5 Miles
Difficulty: Moderate
Directions: For this hike, you will want to park one car at the end on Bear Mountain Road and the other car at the beginning, on Forest Road 506. Taking two cars and starting at the intersection of Hwy. 90 and 180 in Silver City, take Hwy. 180 west 0.6 miles to Alabama Street. Turn right onto Alabama. Go 3.0 miles (remember that Alabama turns into Cottage San Road along the way) to Bear Mountain Road. Bear left onto Bear Mountain Road. Go 2.5 miles to the trailhead. There is a “U”-shaped parking area on the left. The trail is on the right (a little hidden). I suggest that if you use a GPS, you “mark” your car on the system. Park one car there and all climb into car number two.

Return to Hwy. 180. From Hwy. 180, go east 0.2 miles (about three blocks) and turn left onto Little Walnut Road, which will turn into Forest Road 506. Go 6.7 miles to the CD Trailhead. When you get to Wagon Wheel Lane, be sure to go straight and don’t bear right onto Wagon Wheel Lane. Your hike begins on the left side of the road, where you’ll see CD markers.

Hike Description: The hike starts out in the pine trees and hills. You are walking the eastern base of Stewart Peak. It gradually opens up to more rolling hills with piñons and scrub oaks. You’ll climb up the east side of a mountain and come to a beautiful, open meadow area. This is where you’ll enjoy 360-degree views of Eighty Mountain, Bear Mountain and more. The final part of the trail becomes hillier and there is a lot of loose rock. Don’t be surprised to see cattle in this area.

Notes: This is a “through” hike, where you park one car at the end of the trail and another at the beginning. You could easily park at either side and just hike in and out, if you prefer and have the energy. Another option is to have someone drop you off or pick you up on either side of the hike. The first part of the trail is well-used. Expect to see mountain bikers, runners, horses and/or hikers. But don’t be discouraged, as soon it will be quieter. Plan on one hour on each side for car placement and a hike of approximately three hours.

Helpful Hint: Hiking with poles really cuts down on pain and injury, especially with the loose rocks at the end of this hike.

This is a repost of an article that was originally published in “Desert Exposure”. Check them out at:

http://www.desertexposure.com/index.php

January 2013 – Continental Divide (CD) Trail — Burro Mountains

Name: Continental Divide (CD) Trail — Burro Mountains

Difficulty: Easy to Moderate

Directions: From Highway 90 at Ridge Road, take Highway 90 south 10.2 miles. Turn right onto Tyrone Road. Stay on this dirt road for 7.2 miles. There are several turn-offs and curves; just stay on the main road until you see CD Trail markers on the trees at the 7.2 mile marker.

Hike Description: We took the trail to the south (on the left), towards Jack’s Peak. It is well marked in most places, easily found in others. You’ll enjoy pine trees, views of the Mogollons, some sandy areas, a few gates that are closed but unlocked. The trail wanders up and down some easy hills and then after a mile or so starts its rise up towards Jack’s Peak. It’s a good trail for any hiker as you can turn back if it’s too steep for your condition. There are many hiking options off of this road to explore.

landscape
View from the Continental Divide Trail, off Highway 90 south of Silver City in the Burro Mountains. (Photo by Linda Ferrara)

Notes: This would be a good hike for any time of the year since it is nicely shaded for much of the trail. If you are climbing up to the top, consider going early in the day if you are hiking in the heat of summer.

Helpful Hint: When I was stuck up on a ridge and couldn’t find my way down, I followed a cow trail that showed me the route. Think about what animals do and need. Their trails can bring you to water, trails, roads, civilization.

Reposted from article in January 2013 “Desert Exposure”    http://www.desertexposure.com/201301/201301_100_hikes.php

Desert Exposure article

Hi All, well it’s been over a month since I blogged. I thought those of you who followed my challenge might be interested in reading an article I wrote for our local monthly newspaper, Desert Exposure.

http://www.desertexposure.com/201211/201211_100_hikes.php

 

Enjoy!

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