Category Archives: GCSAR
Pamela Morgan and I met when I was a Realtor and I helped her find a home. We’ve hiked many times before so when she contacted me recently, I was happy to get back on a trail with her. Catching up with Pamela included hearing about her three week trip to Thailand and riding an elephant, comparing notes on elderly parents, hearing about her new venture offering Stress Management (more on that later), and her K9 work with Grant County Search and Rescue (GCSAR).
The whole day was full of interesting conversation but the K9 training had me especially fascinated. Trained dogs aid searches by helping to determine the direction of travel of the lost subject which narrows the search field dramatically. The GCSAR K9 unit currently has four handlers and 6 dogs that train weekly. While on our hike, we tested Pamela’s dog, Riley. I walked ahead for several minutes and hid. I watched through the bushes as he came off the main trail at the exact point where I did, went directly to the first bush I stopped behind and then continued quickly to my hiding spot. We performed this exercise twice in two different areas and he easily found me both times. It was amazing to watch.
As hikers, we’ve all heard stories about searches. If you get in a jam, it’s a relief to know that our area has a search team that’s well trained and willing to help. They are currently looking for members so if you have a desire to help others, like to play with gadgets, want to see some beautiful country, want to meet and work with great people, then GCSAR is something to consider joining.
Pamela told me about some of the trainings which sounded pretty cool. The topics include: navigation, virtual battleship, night training, lost person behavior, wildlife dangers, survival training, tech tool training, and lots more.
If you’re interested in joining, visit: http://www.gcsar-nm.org/join.htm, or come to their next meeting on June 16at 6:30 at the Gila Regional Medical Center’s EMS building on 32nd Street.
Here is an interesting hike to consider:
Name: San Francisco Hot Springs
Directions: Drive 180 north until you are between mile marker 57 and 56. Turn left onto County Road 025. Take this a short distance until you see the trailhead. There is a bathroom and Forest Service Information Board at the trailhead.
Hike Description: This trail is hilly until you reach the canyon area. Take the steep trail to the bottom of the canyon. From there, go to the left either by crossing the river and bushwhacking to the left or, before crossing the river, find the trail on your left and take that. Walk for 5-10 minutes. The hot springs are on the far side of the river, right against the river bank. With a little searching, we found them. Please note: your feet will get wet. Prepare accordingly.
Interesting geology surrounds hot springs. The water is heated by molten rock and raises to the surface through cracks. The warm water allows algae and bacteria to thrive. I was tickled that I could simultaneously put one hand in the cold river and the other in a warm spring.
Tell me about your new venture: Along our walk, Pamela told me about her new business, “Willowleaf Stress Management” that helps people manage the stress in their lives. In the coming months she will be growing her business and sharing her knowledge with the public. If you’d like to talk to her about this service, check out her website at: http://www.willowleafsm.com/ or contact her at 534-1395.
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.
Name: CD Trail – Highway 90 South
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).
Canyons are Gorge-ous!
When I approached George Austin, owner of Silver Imaging, about doing a hike and article with me, his eye brows went up, his eyes got wide, and he said, “sure!”. When he immediately mentioned several hiking options, all of which sounded intriguing, my eye brows went up, my eyes got wide, and I said, “sure!”
His years of working with the Forest Service, hiking in the area, and photographing the landscape, paid off for me when I got into his truck and we headed out one Fall morning. I have pages of notes of new trails to try, people to contact and interesting area history.
George has been an outdoorsman since a family vacation in Ruidoso when Mom, being busy with a newborn, didn’t notice that the six year George had slipped out the door and went out exploring. It is documented that his first words were, “Ope de doo”, meaning: open the door.
He grew to love the Gila when he got a job with the Forest Service in 1973 and remembers cleaning, among many others, the Cat Walk and Sheridan Corral trails, performing Fire Lookout work at the now defunct Bear Wallow Lookout, and recalls many 5-day horse and mule treks working with the Forest Service.
Recalling how he started with the Forest Service, he regales me with an amusing horse/mule story. He was given 2 hours of instruction on how to ride and care for the animals and then he set out on the horse and guiding the packed mule for a week working on the Crest Trail. The next morning when he tried to put the bit in the horse’s mouth, the horse would not have it. The horse reared up to avoid George and fell over. When he got back on his feet, he took the bit and obeyed George from that point on. George speculates that the horse thought George knocked him over and decided to not have that happen again.
George’s love and talent towards photography began by wanting to share what he saw in the wilderness with people back home.
Describe one of your favorite hikes that you’d like to share with the readers:
Name: Gold Dust Trail #41
Directions: Beginning at the intersection of Highway 180 and Little Walnut Road, drive west on Highway 180 for 63 miles to Road 159 (a.k.a. Bursum Road) (between mile markers 48 and 47). Make a right. Travel 3.8 miles to a parking lot. Make right into the lot and travel .1 miles to the trailhead.
Hike Description: This is a gorgeous hike up to the west side cliff of Whitewater Canyon (think catwalk). You first climb over a grassy hill and then slowly work your way farther up. At one point you must traverse down the side of a ravine and then back up. At approximately the 1.9 mile mark, the trail might be hard to find. Walk across a smooth boulder, see and cross a small streamlet, look for trail and cairns on the other side. You will be rewarded with many fantastic views of mountains, canyons, rock face, bluffs, chutes and spires.
I strongly recommend you wear pants on this hike as there is a fair amount of mesquite and cat’s claw along the way.
Before heading up the trail, look across and see the mouth of Whitewater Canyon.
At some point on the trail, stop and listen for the water rushing below in Whitewater Canyon. Cup both your hands behind your ears and hear the difference in the sound. Cupping your ears amplifies the sound immensely!
Seeing Whitewater Canyon from above is a completely different experience than from inside!
The day that we were there a loud, small jet zoomed into the canyon and around the bend and out of sight. George explained that it was a training flight out of Tucson.
I stopped at the Reserve Ranger office where I learned that the Catwalk is scheduled to be reopened by Memorial Day 2016. I also saw a bunch of photographs of the flood area. If you have time, stop by and check them out!
Tell me about a particularly memorable outdoor experience: As we drove back to Silver, George shared a memorable outdoor story with me. He and a friend had decided to cross-country ski 47 miles from Jacob Lake, Utah to the north rim of the Grand Canyon and then down and out the south rim. They were warned that they might need cleats, ice picks and climbing equipment, but didn’t have any. The hairiest stretch of the 7 day trip was when they traversed around a narrow, ice covered section of trail with a 50 foot drop-off. The other memorable part of the trip was when the 37-year-old and his friend made it to Phantom Ranch, at the bottom of the Grand Canyon. Since they were one day late, they were told they would have to continue to the next designated stop, Indian Gardens – 5 miles away.
At this point in the story, I interjected that they weren’t being very accommodating to already tired hikers. But George shook his head.
“It was a wonderful gift. I got to hike in the moonlight and experience hiking out of the Grand Canyon like few people are able to.”
Beat the heat!
It was time to get some dirt trapped in my treads, so who better to call than the guy who came up with the name of this column (Trail Mix). Steve White, a friend, hiking buddy and past co-worker, was the guy who made the office fun to be in. Not all offices were lucky enough to have such a guy, but we sure were!
Steve has been hiking for years and had a few interesting memories to share. A few years ago when he and a companion were hiking towards Hillsboro Peak, they heard a weak call; “help!” Scurrying down the steep embankment, they found a man collapsed in a heap. With some effort, they were able to get him on the trail and provide aid. After witnessing the Gila hiker heave up a fair amount of red wine, they realized that he would not be able to get back to his vehicle on his own. They half carried, half guided him back. Steve later learned that the man, who was from the T or C area, had recently changed blood pressure medications and fainted while alone on the trail.
Steve also told me about a recent backpacking trip that he really enjoyed. He and a few friends spent three days in the Aravaipa Canyon Wilderness area just west of Safford, Arizona. He described awesome canyon walls, pristine flowing water, and widely varying geology and vegetation.
He explained the beauty of the canyon like this: “one side of the canyon was mostly granite and had pockets that had been gouged out by boulders and runoff. These pockets were filled with water when we explored it, and from above they glinted like jewels. We also found a number of “hanging gardens” where ground water would seep in through the canyon walls. That portion of the canyon is relatively narrow with the walls rising to around 300′. Looking up from the bottom you can see saguaro cacti along the top of the mesas; there is also one place where an incredibly thick stand of giant saguaros runs all the way from mesa top to water’s edge-one of my more impressive views.”
OK, reader, I know you’re stuffing your backpack and ready to check it out. But go online and get a permit because they only issue 50 permits per day. Their website is: http://www.blm.gov/az/st/en/arolrsmain/aravaipa.html. I suggest you take the below hike while you wait.
Name: Noonday Canyon
Difficulty: easy to moderate
Directions: Take 180 to Highway 152. Drive just under 24 miles on Highway 152. You will see brown highway signs indicating hiking trails 747 and 795. On the left you will see a dirt road (if you pass the “MM24” marker, turn around, you just missed it) with a brown marker noting FR 4087B. Pull down into this road, bear to the left and park. Down to the left you will see a wood sign on a tree indicating the start of Trail 747 going towards Rabb Park.
Hike Description: Spray on some bug repellent and begin your hike. For the first minute or two, you will be walking on an old dirt road which runs into the creek for a minute or two. Then you’re back onto the road. At the .7 mile mark (about 10-15 minutes), you will enter a clearing with a few downed logs, a campsite and such. If you look to the left, you will see a brown wood sign guiding you to the Rabb Park trail. Make a note to go back in cooler weather and investigate, and now look to the right of the main road where you will cross the creek and find another dirt road. This road will take you past an inhabited cabin. Please respect people’s privacy and don’t disturb any belongings. Continue walking along the road or trail, which may be challenging to find at some points. We were able to walk along Noonday Canyon with trail or road most of the way. When you’re exactly half way finished, turn around and return the way you came.
Notes: Be aware that there may be water running if it’s rained recently. Also keep an eye on possible rain clouds building to avoid being caught in rain or flooding.
There’s a sign at the trail head that warns of blocked and eroded trails and downed trees. We didn’t encounter any such problems along the way. We did walk through some burn areas where several dead standing trees looked like they could come down eminently.
About Noonday Canyon: There are apparently two Noonday Canyon’s – one in San Lorenzo, and this one which is off of Highway 152. I was curious about how it got its’ name and so after a visit to the library, I found some information. According to T.M. Pearce, when the mining boom was taking place in Pinos Altos and Kingston, people travelling between the camps always tried to reach this reliable water source by noon.
Note: This article first appeared in “The Independent” on July 23, 2015
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.
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
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
Now don’t be jealous, fellow trekkers, but this lucky hiker got to spend a sunny winter day with Marc Levesque hiking a stellar trail, hearing stories about adventures in Maine, New Hampshire and Antarctica, and listening to firsthand accounts of local area search and rescue missions.
Marc and his wife, Susan Porter, have been exploring the trails in this area since they moved here in 2005, and have been avid hikers for over 40 years, mostly in the mountains of northern New England. Marc was a member of the Appalachian Mountain Club, where he was involved in winter ascents, rock climbing, leading hikes and directing the AMC Mountain Leadership School in 1979-1980. Here in Silver City, he is a battalion chief with the Pinos Altos Volunteer Fire Rescue, teaches “Fundamentals of Search and Rescue” at WNMU’s Outdoor Program, and is president of Grant County Search and Rescue. Was I a little intimidated hiking with the president of Search and Rescue? Sure was. Did I have a ball hiking with him? You bet I did!
He suggested we hike a newly created trail that he described as “a gem.”
Name: Table Mountain Trail, City of Rocks State Park
Distance: 2.0-6.0 miles
Difficulty: 70% easy, 20% medium, 10% difficult
Directions: Starting from the intersection of 32nd Street By-Pass and Hwy. 180 in Silver City, drive 24.8 miles southeast on Hwy. 180 until you reach Hwy. 61. Turn left onto Hwy. 61 and drive 3.0 miles to the entrance of City of Rocks State Park.
Hike description: I suggest you stop into the Visitors’ Center and check out the history and geology of this wonderful park. Be sure to chat with park volunteers, who are extremely knowledgeable, helpful and pleasant. They have a map of the park that will assist you. Here is more info about the park for those of you who want to do some homework before you go: www.emnrd.state.nm.us/SPD/cityofrocksstatepark.html.
For a shorter hike, park in the northeast corner of the park near the Pegasus Campground. Walk 0.22 miles on the trail that heads east. Turn right (south) onto Hydra Trail and then turn left (east) onto the trail that takes you up to Table Top Mountain.
For a longer hike, park at the Visitors’ Center Parking lot and take the Hydra Walking Trail for 1.0 mile. Turn right (east) onto the trail that heads up to Table Top Mountain.
When you go through the gate, the trail starts the ascent uphill toward the first bench of the mountain. It gets steeper still until you finally reach the top. Look down and see the 557 feet you just climbed. Now walk around the mesa top, have fun boulder jumping, and enjoy the scenery. Return the way you came.
Notes: This is a newer trail that volunteer Tim Davis has been working on for the past few years. We met Tim on the trail; perhaps you will, too! City of Rocks State Park requires an entrance fee of $5 per car. Gates are open from 7 a.m. to 9 p.m. Why not bring a lunch and spend the day? Enjoy this trail in the morning, check out the rocks in the early afternoon, and then head over to Faywood Hot Springs for a soak to end the day just right! Or bring camping gear and explore for several days.
Tell us about a particularly memorable hiking experience:
“I was 34 years old and had just returned from a contract job at South Pole Station in Antarctica, where we had set a temperature record during the year I was there of minus-117 degrees,” says Levesque. “I had lost 22 pounds during that time and had virtually no body fat. Upon returning, I decided to get out and enjoy the White Mountains of New Hampshire on a solo day hike in 20-degree February weather. My body had not adjusted to the loss of body fat, and when I reached a spot just below the summit, I realized I was deeply shivering. I knew this was the first stage of hypothermia and probably should have turned back. But sometimes one’s testosterone level exceeds one’s intelligence quotient, so I just stopped, ate something, put on all the clothes I had with me, and continued on towards the summit.
“It all turned out okay, but between the clouds, the wind, the deep snow and the temperature, I could have easily found myself in serious trouble.” The rescuer in him comes out as he adds, “It’s really not a great idea to hike alone in such winter conditions.”
In closing, Levesque has a final comment: “Always let someone know where you’re going on a hike. It will make it much easier for us to find you if you get lost or injured.”
For more information about Grant County Search and Rescue, go to: gcsar-nm.org.
This is a repost of an article that originally appeared in Desert Exposure.
Check them out at: http://www.desertexposure.com/100hikes/