Category Archives: Continental Divide

June 2016 – Meadow Creek – Trail 89 – Dennis Sawyer

Maybe I love the outdoors because as kids we were encouraged (errrr….. forced) to ‘go outside!’ My father would take us on outdoor vacations to places like Cape Cod and Maine where we would fish, take boat rides and play in the ocean. It was common for us to help our grandfathers in their vegetable gardens. When my parents lived in western Massachusetts, Dad showed us the local nature sites including Bash Bish Falls, and Bartholomew’s Cobble. So this month’s hiking subject will be my father, Dennis Sawyer.

I get many of my traits from him…both good and bad. I get my corny sense of humor from him and my sometimes painful directness from him. I didn’t know I get my ‘list-making’ and planning skills from him until ten or more years ago when he was planning a European trip. He had taken books out of the library and made lists of places to see on his now famous scrap pieces of paper. I recall thinking to myself, “I do that exact same thing!”

He shared his love of music with his four children. I think he was disappointed that none of us enjoyed opera the way he did, but I do love classical music and that is his doing. He would take us to free concerts in the park, and play classical music on the 8-track in the car.

I am thrifty (okay, cheap) like him and stubborn like him.  I can play a wicked game of Gin Rummy because he taught me how to strategize while sitting at the coffee table watching the Yankees. He taught me to be responsible, independent and hard working.

He was strict with us when we were young. He taught his four children to not be late, or the doors would be locked – a promise he kept more than once. We had to have manners and be polite. No elbows on the table, no running on the stairs, no backtalk. When Lorin got a spanking, I remember us all being very well-behaved for many days after.

We had to eat everything on our plate because there were children starving in China. There was no television watching until after Walter Cronkite gave Dad the news.

There was no sleeping late in our house. One day, when the girls were sleeping past 8:00 a.m., he and my brother Patrick got pot and pan lids and came marching into our room clanging the lids. He pulled the covers off of us and wouldn’t leave until our feet were on the floor.

On one road trip my oldest sister threw a tissue out the window. Dad stopped the car on the highway, and backed the car up. Cary told him she wasn’t getting out of the car. His reply was, “Oh, you’re getting out of this car. Whether you get back in the car with that tissue is up to you. But make no mistake, you’re getting out of this car.”

She picked up the tissue and got back in, sniffling most of the remainder of the trip. Reminiscing about this incident recently, the four siblings confirmed that none of us have ever littered since that day.

My father’s health had been deteriorating over the past 18 months.  He accepted help around the house, a new development for our family. On April 11th, during a medical procedure, Dad had a massive stroke. His wife, children, grandchildren, sisters and best friend visited him as much as possible. I was honored to help in any way I could…… driving Mom to the hospital, talking to the doctors, helping make medical decisions. At one point, my mother thanked me for helping her. I replied, “No problem Mom. I’ve been meaning to thank you and Dad for raising me right.”

Dad passed away on May 7th. There was never any argument or disagreement on any of those tough decisions we had to make. Dad was clear about what he wanted and did not want. We all respected that and worked together to carry out his wishes. I’m proud of how we all worked together to aide him and my mother during that difficult month.

So this month’s hike I will take alone and think about Dad, Mom, Cary, Lorin and Patrick. And I’ll probably hum a little “La Traviata” too.

 

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Hike Information:

Name:   Meadow Creek – Trail 89  

Distance:  various

Difficulty: moderate

Directions: Beginning at the intersection of Highway 15 and 32nd Street, drive 13.5 miles north on Highway 15. On your right, you will see a Forest sign saying “Meadow Creek 3 Miles”. Turn right (you will see signage stating this is “149”) and drive on this sometimes rough dirt road for 2.6 miles. You will see a campfire ring and small pull-off on your right. Park here.

Hike Description: Start by walking .44 miles (about 10 minutes) until you enter a large parking area where I regularly see people camping.  As you pass the large open area, the dirt road you are on curves to the left. On the right you will see a road/trail. It is Trail 89, but the brown Forest Service marker was on the ground when I was there. This trail takes you up the hillside and then along an old logging road. Once you get to the top, it levels out. There is a fork in the road; stay right for this hike.

Notes: 

Some vehicles may be able to drive further along FR149 and park further up. But this girl is chicken so you proceed the way you feel comfortable.

At this time of year, I recommend that you bring bug repellent.

 

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.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

 

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).

 

February 2016 – CD Trail North from FR 506

February 2016 – Bart Lami – CD Trail North from FR 506

I first met Bart Lami through my blog, 100hikesinayear.com, when he was nice enough to congratulate me on completing my 100 hike challenge. When we recently ran into each other at a WILL class in January, I suggested we hike together. And so on a crisp Wednesday we hiked through the pines north of town.

As we walked, Bart told me about himself. He and his wife, Nancy, spend 3 months of the years here in Silver City to escape the bone-chilling winters of Pittsburgh. In early retirement, they stay busy with hiking, race car renovations, and have been involved with Big Brothers/Big Sisters for 15 years.

When I asked about his little brother, Bart’s upbeat conversation turned serious. He told me about an 8-year-old boy, Stephon, that he spent time with over the past fifteen years. Although their homes were 10 miles apart, it might have been 10 light years. He described to me a comparison with several striking differences. Bart grew up in an upper middle class household, while Stephon lived with his paraplegic mother in an inner city section of Pittsburgh. He never knew his father, who is in jail.

Bart shared many enjoyable outings with Stephon, occasionally taking him to a lake. He had never been to a lake and had to be coaxed into the water and had to have the roped-off swimming area explained to him.

When Stephon was in his teens, he told Bart that his wallet was stolen but that it was his own fault. Bart mistakenly thought that Stephon had left his wallet somewhere in public, Stephon explained. “It was my own fault. I left it on my dresser.”

Stephon had some difficulties in his teen years including alcohol and drug abuse and a serious seizure disorder. But he had emerged from it and was taking a leadership role in his AA and NA groups. He had started attending a local community college.

“So is he on the right track now?” I asked.

Bart stopped on the trail and looked at me sadly. “No. Tomorrow will be the one year anniversary of his death.”

Folks, the lump in my throat and the tears in my eyes stayed with me the entire hike.

Bart explained that at 2:00 a.m. in the morning, a pedestrian shot at a car of five teenagers and Stephon, sitting in the middle of the back seat, was killed. It’s hard to think of a sadder thing than this tragic loss of life.

Bart often uses hiking as a healing activity during difficult times. He hiked the day after learning about Stephon’s death, and he hiked on the day after 9/11. So, as you read about this month’s hike below, think about a young man named Stephon Reed and appreciate how precious life is.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Describe one of your favorite hikes that you’d like to share with the readers:

Name: CD Trail North from FR 506

Distance:  variable

Difficulty: moderate

Directions: Drive north on Little Walnut Rd; when it turns to dirt road, travel 1.8 miles. Park on the left side of the road, trailhead is on the right hand side of the road.

Hike Description: This trail is a hilly section of the CD Trail as it heads away from civilization and north into the Gila. You will enjoy long-range views, pine trees, views of the Our Lady of Guadalupe Benedictine Monastery, and a few stream crossings. We even trekked through snow in a few short, north facing segments.

Tell me about particularly memorable hiking experiences:

In Pittsburgh, Bart and his friends do some extreme urban hiking. They occasionally hike 19 miles on a route that includes 18 of the Pittsburgh area bridges. Once, they did a 13 mile hike and in the middle of it, climbed a 36 story building – twice. No wonder this trail was no big effort for him.

Bart recalls an unforgettable backpacking trip. He and a friend set out to hike on the Laurel Highlands Trail for a 75 mile, 3-day trip. After being dropped off at the trailhead, the weather changed dramatically and unexpectedly. The temperature quickly dropped from 50 to 32, winds were at 30-40 miles per hour, and a heavy rain fell. They trudged along miserably and finally stopped for the night. Using soaking wet wood, they eventually got a fire started. They barely survived the night, but not before having the heels of their boots melt. The second day was slightly better than the first but not without incident. His friend Tim hurt his knee. They limped towards the second planned stop. As they approached the lean-to they were met with Halloween lights and decorations. Two friends (saviors, really) had decided to surprise them and bring them a hot meal. Seeing that Tim was injured, they drove back to the friends’ home and spent a warm, comfortable night eating and drinking.

May you all have and be friends like that!

October 1, 2015 – North Star Mesa Road To Signboard Saddle

A Regulars’ Favorite

At any given time, the Gila is alive with small groups of hikers exploring and enjoying the forest’s beauty. It seems hikers naturally prefer small groups and recently I was able to hike with three regulars on the trails. June Decker, Joe Morris and Donna Jean Morris have been hiking together weekly since 2006. Their many hiking accomplishments include hiking the CD Trail from the Mexican border to Signboard Saddle in the Black Range.

During our day together, I asked them which trail is their favorite. The reply came back, “The one we’re on now.” No matter what trail they’re on, that’s always the answer.

Donna Jean, the storyteller of the group, shared this border story. They were hiking south of Hachita a few years ago and Donna Jean had lost her keys somewhere along the trail. A few days later she contacted the Border Patrol and informed them that they had lost keys and were returning on a specific day to look for them. On that day, she and Joe went back and found the keys easily in the middle of a dirt road. As they headed back to blacktop, a Border Patrol car passed them, turned around and followed them. And then a second patrol car and then another. Suddenly a helicopter lowered in front of their windshield and a voice on a loud speaker demanded they stop. Startled, Donna jumped out of the car, and cried, “What is this? We were just looking for my keys!” After a brief conversation, the Border Patrolman waved off the hovering helicopter, and a shaken Donna and Joe were soon on their way home. Isn’t it amazing the things you experience on a hike?

I also learned how dedicated to volunteering in the community the three are. Donna Jean and Joe volunteer at Our Paws’ Cause Thrift Shop, the Hurley Animal Shelter and the Hurley Library.

Now semiretired while running a pet-sitting business, June hikes weekly, facilitates WILL (Western Institute for Lifelong Learning) classes on hiking and coordinates pickleball games several times a week.

Did I hear you just ask, “What is pickleball?” It’s a hybrid of badminton, tennis and table tennis in which two, three, or four players use solid paddles to hit a perforated polymer ball over a net. It was developed in the 1960s in Washington state and is now an international sport. Here in Silver City it is played by approximately 65 people and was introduced through the WILL courses. If you’re interested in learning more, they play at the WNMU Intramural Gym at 2 p. m. on Mondays, 4:30 p.m. on Wednesdays, 9 a.m. on Fridays, at the 32nd Street tennis courts at the same times, and at the Rec Center at 12:30 p.m. on Mondays, Tuesdays and Thursdays.

Come watch and check it out!

Describe one of your favorite hikes that you’d like to share with the readers.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Name: Continental Divide Trail between North Star Mesa Road to Signboard Saddle

Distance: 8 miles round trip Dif. culty: moderate Directions: From the intersection of Highway 180 and 32nd Street, drive east on 180 to Highway 152 (5.4 miles). Take 152 for 13.9 miles and turn left onto Highway 35. Drive north on 35 for 14.7 miles and make a right onto North Star Mesa Road. Drive 14.3 miles on North Star Mesa Road until you reach the trailhead. You will begin this hike by going toward “Signboard Saddle — 4 miles.”

Hike Description: This hike winds around the side of the mountain, mostly below the ridgeline. On the way toward the signboard, it is mildly uphill, nothing that my weak knees couldn’t handle. Be prepared to stop for many photo opportunities. It’s view- t- ful!

Notes: North Star Mesa Road ( a. k. a. Route 150 or Wall Lake Road) can be rough in a few spots as it crosses streams and rocky canyons. As of Aug. 28, 2015, it was in good condition that a high- clearance, non- four- wheel- drive vehicle could traverse.

As you enter the Aldo Leopold Wilderness, please be aware of the signage ”No Hang Gliding Allowed.” Darn it! I carried my equipment all that way!

If you lose the trail, you’ve missed one of the many switchbacks. Backtrack to the spot where you zigged when you should have zagged.

June thoroughly enjoys her current pet-sitting gig, saying, “people pay me to pet dogs” ( and goats, chickens and tortoises). Her love of animals is quickly evident as we compare animal stories and dog hiking tips along our walk.

She suggests: •

  • Be sure your dog drinks sufficient water.
  • Don’t overexert your pet. Adjust hike length to your pet’s current age and abilities.
  • Be mindful of your pet’s paws on hot ground and avoid walking them raw.
  • When your dog is walking from shady spot to shady spot, that’s an indication that the animal is overheated.
  • Be cautious during hunting season. Either leave your dogs at home, keep them on leash, or have them wear something brightly colored.

April 2015 – FR 858/CD Trail/Silver Spur Loop

On a recent hike with Shelby Hallmark and Bob Wilson, I learned about the RTCA (Rivers, Trails and Conservation Assistance) and Grant County Trails Group, both which share a love for trails and their development in Grant County.

The RTCA group has been working on building support for developing Silver City’s planned trail system (notably the Master Greenways and Big Ditch Plan) and connecting it to the surrounding trails in the Gila National Forest. They applied for and were awarded an “RTCA” grant from the National Park Service for the purpose of enhancing local trails and greenways. In 2014 the team worked with Teresa Martinez, Director and Co-founder of the Continental Divide Trail Coalition, to designate Silver City as the very first CD Trail Gateway Community.

The group is currently continuing to work on enhancing Silver City’s branding as an outdoor destination, and building more trails in and around town.

Meanwhile, over the past six months the partnering Grant County Trails Group has focused on getting county residents to get out and use our existing trails and walking facilities.

If you enjoy hiking in this area as much as I do, you’ve got to love both of these groups and their impressive accomplishments!

How does someone join the RTCA group to work on development of new trails? Contact Shelby Hallmark at: shelbyhallmark@yahoo.com or 575-519-1426.

How does someone join the Grant County Trails Group? Contact Michele Giese at: Michele.giese@state.nm.us or 538-8573 (x121).

Describe one of your favorite hikes that you’d like to share with the readers:

Name: CD Trail / Silver Spur Loop

Distance: 5 miles

Difficulty: moderate

Directions:

Starting at the intersection of Highway 180 and Alabama St, turn north onto Alabama St. At the .3 mile mark it turns in to Cottage San Rd. At the 3 mile mark, bear left onto Bear Mountain Road. Drive 2.1 miles and make a right onto Forest Road 858. Drive slowly (this road requires high clearance vehicle and patience) for 2.9 miles. Make a left and drive another .8 miles to a cattle guard and park.

 

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Hike Description: This is a loop trail that includes part of the new section of CD Trail and the Silver Spur Trail. Start the loop by crossing over the cattle guard and staying to the left on Forest Road 858. At the 1.0 mile mark you will see an old pumping station. We believe that was attached to Alum Spring and fed water to Silver City at one point. You may see the old water pipe along the way. At the 1.14 mile mark, the new part of the CD Trail crosses the road. Make a hard right onto the CD Trail (if you go to the left on the CDT you will walk around the base of Bear Mountain, if you continue on the road, you will come to a windmill and stock tank). As you climb this ridge, enjoy views of Stewart Peak and Bear Mountain.

Our GPS’s differ here so bear with me. At approximately the 2.50-3.0 mark, you will come to a green gate. Go through the gate, admire the cairn we made, and turn right onto the Silver Spur. Shortly, you will see an old metal Continental Divide Trail sign and walk through a barrier. Look for a cairn to the left and follow the old CD Trail. At approximately the 3.5-4.0 mile mark you will reach a dirt road. Make a right onto the road. Shortly, about .2 miles, the road curves to the right. Look for a cairn and trail on the left. Leave the road and walk the trail for about .5 miles back to your vehicle.

Notes: A great loop trail with diverse landscape. You will experience a few hills, pine groves, and views galore.

I contacted Teresa Martinez, from the Continental Divide Trail Coalition about the changes to the CD Trail. Here’s what she told me, “The Continental Divide Trail Coalition (CDTC) is excited about the development and progress of the new CDT location in and around Silver City. The segments that are complete and open to the public are fantastic trail experiences, and we look forward to acquisition and completion of the final segments of the CDT in the area and when the entire Trail may be opened. CDT is also excited to engage the Silver City Community in the stewardship of the CDT and hopes the efforts in and around Silver City continues to inspire other Trail communities to support the CDT in their communities.”

Where will the new segment of the CDT go? The new trail, which has already been partially completed, crosses over the Burros from its junction with Deadman Canyon Trail north of Burro Peak, past Red Rock Road to Mangus Springs. In the future, the Forest Service will complete the final segment from Mangus Springs across HWY 180 to LS Mesa Road north of Bear Mountain. That portion of the Trail is not complete yet and does cross private property, so the CDTC ask that people not trespass and to only use portions of the Trail that are officially open.

February 2015 – Apache Mountain

Hiking Apache Mountain with Russ Kleinman

A sprained ankle and knee delayed my hike with retired surgeon, Russ Kleinman, but when I finally made it a few weeks later, it was fantastic!

Russ has been enjoying the outdoors since about the age of 4 when he roamed land near his home and later explored the San Gabriel Mountains outside Los Angeles.

Nowadays, he enjoys many outdoor-related activities including shortwave radio operation, dog agility training, hiking, camping and botany. He teaches a plant taxonomy class at WNMU (the science that finds, identifies, describes, classifies, and names plants). Mosses are his current interest, which he demonstrated along the hike by regularly crawling beneath brush and boulders. He wore a magnifying loupe around his neck and showed me the mosses up close. I was surprised to see the different varieties, which looked the same at first, were vastly different when inspected through the magnifier.

If you’re interested in the vegetation of the Gila, a wonderful resource is gilaflora.com, a website by Russ with more than 16,000 photographs, locations and information about the plants in our area.

Describe one of your favorite hikes that you’d like to share with the readers…

Name: Apache Mountain

Distance:
2.6 miles round trip

Difficulty: hard

Directions: Starting at the intersection of highways 180 and 90, drive south on Highway 90 for 30.4 miles (it is just after mile marker 11). Make a left onto WD Ranch Rd. There is a brown forest sign for Forest Road 841 to verify you’re on the right track. The first mile of this road is public access over privately owned land, so please stay on the road and don’t trespass. At the one-mile mark, you will go over a cattle guard and enter National Forest land. When you reach a fork in the road, turn left. Shortly, (a few hundred yards) you will come to a turn-off on the right hand side. Look through the grasses and find a brown forest service marker for Forest Road 40910. Pull in and park (do not block the road).

Hike Description: The first part of this hike is a gradual climb on an old dirt road alongside of Monarch Canyon. At the one-mile mark, you will reach a saddle where you can look down the other side into Apache Canyon. Here is where you leave the road and follow the fence line upward. There is a trail in some spots; when in doubt, I suggest you head upward.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Notes: Don’t try to drive up FR 40910; it is heavily rutted in several spots. This is a short, steep hike up to the top of Apache Mountain. You will climb 1,383 feet up and be rewarded with unbelievable views. On the day we went, we actually looked down at clouds and had one move past us while sitting on the summit.

Along the way, you will see several large boulders and long veins of white quartz, something I’ve not seen often in this abundance in the Gila.

During the hike, Russ told me several hiking adventures, including this story:

“I enjoyed snow camping for a long time and one trip included crossing the Gila River. I knew enough to sleep with my water bottle underneath me in my tent to avoid having ice the next morning. But this trip, I learned another lesson. I took off my cold, wet boots and placed them outside the tent. The next morning, I found them frozen rock solid. A harsh lesson was learned that morning as I hopped barefoot around the snow, looking for dry wood to start a campfire. Thawing my boots was a bit like toasting marshmallows; I didn’t want to put them too close to the fire or they’d burn, and too far away and they’d never thaw.”

After I expressed my aversion to the thought of camping in snow, Russ responded, “Snow camping isn’t for everyone; it leaves a very narrow margin for error.”

Do you have a piece of equipment that you use often when hiking?

Russ shows me his map app called “Backcountry Navigator Pro.” It’s an Android mobile mapping application where you can download different types of maps including topographical, color aerial, street maps and more. You can mark waypoints, record tracks, compute trip pace, utilize a compass, keep waypoint lists, record trip stats, save, export, and import trip notes for future reference and more. I’m not the most technically literate person, but this new stuff is excellent so I guess I’ll get dragged into the tech age, hiking and climbing the entire way!

In order to intrigue you, I’ll share some hearsay about a mystery in the area. Through much digging, and an interesting conversation with local rancher Jimmy Stewart, I learned the following:

The WD in “WD Ranch Road” stands for Will Dover, who was one of about six ranchers who owned property in that area. In the late 1800s/early 1900s he ranched in the Apache Canyon area, including the peak. It is rumored that he got into a dispute with one of the other ranchers and disappeared … never to be heard from again.

 

January 2014 – Little Bear Canyon–Trail 729

A Hike with Julian Lee to Little Bear Canyon,  near the Middle Fork of the Gila River.

Being a herpetologist (study of amphibians and reptiles) and an avid bird watcher, it’s not surprising that Julian Lee has done his fair share of hiking. He relocated to Silver City from Florida in 2006 and has been exploring the wilderness in this area ever since. He most frequently hikes with a group of four friends on either Thursday or Friday. When he describes their adventures to me, I often find myself begging him to show me where they went. Don’t miss the opportunity to take one of his WILL classes; he’s an amazingly interesting and talented orator!

We got together in the fall and hiked a trail he recommends.

Name: Little Bear Canyon–Trail 729

Distance: Eight miles, round trip

Difficulty: Moderate

Directions: Starting at the intersection of Hwy. 15 and 32nd Street in Silver City, travel 23.6 miles north up Hwy. 15. Turn left towards the Gila Cliff Dwellings (not the Visitor’s Center). Approximately .5 miles up on the right is a brown Forest Service sign pointing to T.J. Corral. There is a parking area, bathroom, corral, Forest Service Bulletin Board and trailhead here. Travel time: 1.5-2.0 hours. The hike begins at the trailhead, where there is an old sign that says: West Fork Trail 151 / Little Bear Canyon 3 / Middle Fork 4.25. Head towards the Middle Fork on this trail.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Hike Description: This is an eight-mile out-and-back hike that passes through a portion of the 2011 Miller Fire area. Enjoy a wide variety of landscape including open fields, scrub oak and juniper, long-range views, tall pines along Little Bear Creek, slot canyons and spires. The first 2.5 miles is a gradual climb along the side of an arroyo. The next 1.5 miles is decidedly downward as it drops into Little Bear Creek. In the spring you will see columbines along the way. At the four-mile mark, you will meet the Middle Fork of the Gila River. This is where you will marvel at dramatic vertical rock formations on the far side of the river. After enjoying a break, return the way you came.

Notes: There are several hiking options in this area. Consider exploring the side trail at the two-mile mark (you will see a forest sign pointing towards the Lilley Park Trail #164). Or, at the convergence of the Middle Fork, you can head west towards Big Bear Canyon or Jordan Hot Springs, or east onto Middle Fork Gila Trail #157.

Describe something unusual that happened on a hike in this area: “Back in June 2013, we were hiking in the Meadow Creek area,” Lee recalls. “As we traversed steep slopes through an arroyo, on the right-hand side, I observed a pale, beige animal moving up the steep incline through the trees. A deer perhaps. My dog, Orfa, alerted to it and started pursuit. A few seconds later, a second animal, moving fast, came from the left side of the drainage, crossed the drainage in front of me and followed Orfa, who was in pursuit of the first animal. My immediate thought was coyote. I was apprehensive, for I realized that my dog might get entangled with a pack of coyotes! I called for her, with no response. Luckily, within five minutes she came happily back, unharmed. The consensus of the hiking group was that they were either coyotes or young wolves. It seems that some hikes go from quiet and peaceful to bedlam and back to peaceful in a short span of time.”

Any hiking equipment tips? “I need a boot with more support around the ankle and arch. The lighter, nylon ones that are popular just don’t work for me. More support means less chance of twisted ankles, etc.”

Do you have any observations from all the hiking you’ve done? “We have come across people hopelessly unprepared with a pint of water, and wearing impossible footwear. I’m not talking about a walk through Fort Bayard Game Preserve; these people are way out in the wilderness!”

“Another observation is that after you hike eight miles, then get back in the car and sit for a one-to-two-hour ride home, you feel old getting out of that car once the muscles and joints have stiffened up. That’s a relatively new experience for me!”

Recap: At 69, Lee is able to hike farther and faster than I can; I can just imagine what he was like as a member of the California-based El Cariso Hotshots back in the 1960s!

This is a repost of an article that originally appeared in “Desert Exposure”. Check it out at: http://www.desertexposure.com/100hikes/

October 2013 – Allie Canyon – Mimbres Valley

Name: Allie Canyon
Distance: 5.5 miles round trip
Difficulty: Moderate to difficult

 

This slideshow requires JavaScript.


Directions: From the intersection of Hwy. 180 and Hwy. 152 on the edge of Santa Clara, turn north onto Hwy. 152 North and drive 14 miles to Hwy. 35. Take Hwy. 35 north for approximately 10-10.5 miles. On the left, you will see what looks partly like a road and partly like a wide arroyo (there used to be a street sign that said “Allie Canyon Rd,” but as of July 22, it’s no longer there). Pull in and soon you’ll see a corral, windmill and a parking area. Park and head up the arroyo; there’ll be a trail there.
Hike Description: Enjoy Allie Canyon on this hike that includes several hills, meadows, pine groves and the like. You’ll see an old cabin, a camp area, George Hightower’s grave (for more information, check out: 100hikesinayear.wordpress.com/?s=allie+canyon), and huge hoodoos. Be sure to climb up to the hoodoos and get a good look at these natural wonders! Also be aware that this is ranch land and you can expect to encounter cattle.

Notes: I rated this hike as “moderate to difficult” because of its length and climb up to the hoodoos. It is certainly a doable hike for most hikers. Another option for this hike is to continue past the hoodoos and you’ll eventually end up at Signal Peak (an overnighter!).
Helpful Hint: Always carry the following items: water, snack, tissues, lip balm, knife, compass, whistle, adhesive bandages, aspirin, bandana, walking stick, appropriate layers of clothing, GPS, cell phone, hat, plastic bags, camera and sunglasses.

 

This is a repost of an article that was published in “Desert Exposure”. Check them out at: http://www.desertexposure.com/100hikes/

July 2013 – Little Cherry Creek

Name: Little Cherry Creek

Distance: Various

Difficulty: Easy

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

 

 

Directions: Starting at the intersection of Highway 15 and 32nd Street in Silver City, drive north on Highway 15 for 8.2 miles. On the right-hand side of the road you will see a wooden sign saying, “Little Cherry Creek Ranch.” Turn right on (what seems to be) a driveway and find a parking spot; there are several right there when you pull in.

Hike Description: This is a good hike for a hot summer day, as it is follows the creek and there is often water available. It is heavily treed and there are many interesting rock formations to appreciate. At the 1.4-mile mark, the road makes a strong curve to the left. If you look straight into the woods, you will see a trail. Continue there for as long as your legs will take you. While on the road, the walk is a gradual uphill climb. Once you get into the woods and off the road, it gets hillier and soon starts up the side of the mountain.

Notes: This is a heavily traveled path, so expect to see other hikers, horseback riders and vehicle travel. As you walk along, notice the different foliage. There are a lot of different plants due to the moisture. Watch out for poison oak!

Helpful Hint: ALWAYS tell someone where you are going, and when you expect to be back.

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

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

June 2013 – CD Trail off of Signal Peak Road

Name: CD Trail from Signal Peak Road

Distance: various

Difficulty: moderate

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Directions: Starting at the intersection of Highway 15 and 32nd Street in Silver City, drive north on Highway 15 for 12.8 miles to Forest Road 154 (on the right after cattle guard). Forest Road 154 is known to the locals as Signal Peak Road. Take this road 4.1 miles and look for Forest Road 4256B marked on your left. Park. Walk along on 4256B. There are two forks in the road. At the first fork, stay left. Go through the gate. At the next fork, you will see a yellow arrow pointing to the left; stay to the right on this fork. In a few minutes you will come to the CD Trail and have to choose left or right. Both are beautiful hikes. This hike describes the hike to the left.

Hike Description: This is a well-marked trail that winds down the side of a mountain and then back up the other side. You will hit a road at the bottom of the trail (I believe it is 4256B). We continued on the CD Trail and meandered up the other side. You will enjoy long-range views and a pine-tree-covered trail.

Notes: I categorized this hike as “moderate” due to the steep climb back up that mountainside. This whole area has interesting things to explore. There are several trails and dirt roads to hike. If you follow the yellow arrows described at the beginning of the hike, you will find Forest Service snow-measuring apparatus. If you drive or hike to the top of the main road (154), you will come to another CD access point, other trail heads and, farther on, the Signal Peak Lookout Tower.

Please note that Signal Peak Road (Forest Road 154) is closed in the winter.

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

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