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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).

 

October 2015 – Gold Gulch

October 2015 – Walter La Fleur – Gold Gulch

On the southern edge of the Burro Mountains, in the foothills between the Big Burros and the plains of Lordsburg, lies dramatic terrain full of ranching activities, abandoned mines, Native American history, and hiking adventures. I’ve scratched the surface of trails in the area, but had never hiked Gold Gulch. So when Walter La Fleur suggested it as a hike, I eagerly laced up.

Before you read about the trail, let me tell you about Walter. He grew up in New Mexico and remembers adventures in the Gila as a Boy Scout and teenager. Life was different then (roughly 70 years ago), and it was normal for a few kids to be out in the woods all day, apparently doing boy things like finding snakes and knocking over dead trees. He told me about one adventure when he got his driver’s license and he and a buddy drove from Deming to Sheridan Corral and rode horses out to the Big Dry for a couple of weeks. They lived mostly on trout they caught (ten per day was the limit) and corn bread they made in a skillet.

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When I asked him which trail was his favorite, he described an area of the middle fork between Snow Lake and The Meadows. It’s a several day backpacking trip that’s worth the effort.

Here’s another one of his favorite hikes that he’d like to share with readers:

Name:  Gold Gulch

Distance:  variable

Difficulty: moderate

Directions: Starting at the intersection of Highway 90 and By-Pass Road, travel approximately 21 miles south and make a right onto Gold Gulch Road. Travel 2.5 miles, pull over to the right and onto the dirt road. Confirm your location by finding the Forest Service brown marker labeled, “4250G” in the bushes to the right.

Hike Description: This hike begins on an old dirt road and then continues up Gold Gulch. Walk the road a short distance until you reach a gate. After closing the gate behind you, continue up the road. It may disappear a few times, but it’s pretty easy to find and follow. Within 5-10 minutes of walking, you will be paralleling Gold Gulch. There are a few pseudo-trails that lead you to the gulch. If you miss them, just bushwhack down to it, leaving yourself a cairn or marker in the gulch for your return trip. If you continue up the road instead of going into the gulch, you will come upon an old mine hole. Check it out, and then return down the hill and go over to the gulch. The remainder of the hike is up the gulch itself.

Notes:  Along the way you will enjoy interesting rock formations. In spots, rock climbing will be necessary as you continue. If it becomes too strenuous to climb boulders, consider going around the boulders by finding (mostly cattle) trails on either side of the arroyo. Don’t be surprised if you’re like me and utilize the “enrumpage” technique (that always graceful maneuver of sliding down smooth boulders on your bum) on this hike.

Please keep in mind that at certain times of the year, Gold Gulch Road can contain deep sandy areas and will be 4-wheel drive only. Proceed wisely.

Do you have any suggestions for hikers?   “Stop walking when rubbernecking. Also, some people tend to walk so fast that they miss the wilderness.”

Tell me about a particularly memorable hiking experience: Walter wistfully tells me about his long time hiking buddy who recently passed away. He was the leader of their informal hiking group and had led them on innumerable adventures. As the friend’s health deteriorated, their hikes got shorter. Eventually hikes became car rides in the forest. Towards the end, his buddy would investigate the lower reaches near the car while Walter hiked nearby and took photographs so his friend could enjoy the highlights. I imagine it must have been soothing to be outside for a while and away from troubles.

I hope that when I get towards the end of my days, I have someone like Walter to help me enjoy my last sights, sounds and smells of the countryside.

This article originally appeared in the October 22, 2015 issue of “The Independent”.

May 2015 – Black Hawk Canyon

Many times while hiking, I find myself quizzically inspecting an unidentified geological formation, examining an interesting rock, or stumped on how a white line of quartz got in the middle of the earth, marked there like nature’s 50 yard line. I wanted to learn more about the geology I’ve been seeing on my hikes and so, after some digging, I was put in touch with local hiker Lee Stockman of the Grant County Rolling Stones Gem and Mineral Society. He has been interested in geology his entire life and told me that he looks at rocks with a chemists’ eye since that’s what he did for a living – a chemist at the water treatment department in Antioch, Ca. To emphasize his love of Geology, on the car ride to the trailhead, he pulls out a rock sample and shows his passengers. It is smooth and grey and has glittering silver specks throughout it. It turns out to be a sample of Native Silver from the Alhambra Mine which is very close to where we will be hiking today. I just got my first, but not last Geology lesson of the day. I wish I had this man for a science teacher all those years ago!

Lee hikes every week with a group of like-minded people and he offered to let me join them. Throughout the morning, Lee shares various interesting tidbits. When the group inspects white lines through a huge granite wall, he explains. “The granite cracked and super-heated water carrying minerals rose through the cracks. The water cooled and left the minerals in the cracks forming the lines we see today”.

On the trail, various rock specimens were passed around the group and inspected. “That’s a unakite – you can tell by the green stripes and the pink feldspar throughout it.”

At one point, a few hikers surround a green plant in the middle of the arroyo. They’re not seen often around here. The group calls out to Richard Felger, the resident botanist. “That’s a Desert Broom, Baccharis sarothroides.”

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

Name: Black Hawk Canyon Loop

Distance: various

Difficulty: moderate

Directions: From the intersection of Highways 180 and 90, take Highway 180 West 12.9 miles to Saddlerock Canyon Road (on south side of highway). This road is close to Mile Marker 100 and is right after Mangus Valley Road. Make a left on Saddlerock Canyon Rd. Track your mileage from the highway turnoff. Travel on dirt road for 1.3 miles and go over the cattle guard. At the 1.4 mile mark (mm), the dirt road divides. Stay to the left. At the 1.5 mile mark there will be another fork. Stay left. At the 4.3 mm, stay straight. There are several side roads; when in doubt, stay on the main road. At the 5.2 mm, you will come to a closed gate. Go through the gate, closing it behind you, and continue on. The road peters out around the 6.4 mile mark. The hike starts here.

 

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Hike Description: Before starting the hike, look to the left and see a washed out dirt road going up a hill. If you’re positioned correctly, you’ll see some old mining equipment. This is where you will come out from this loop trail. Now start your hike by walking straight up the arroyo and into Black Hawk Canyon. Soon you leave the sandy creek bottom and begin to climb across the water worn granite. This granite intrusion (dated at 1.445 Billion Years old) raised the Burro Mountains. There is usually water here even during the dry season so look for paw prints of the wildlife who inhabit this part of the Burro Mountains. At the .78 mm, there is a side road that leads to the old Alhambra Mine. Make a note to go back and check it out sometime. Continue straight until you reach the .93 mm. To the left is FR 130. This is the road that loops you back to the car. But first, walk straight ahead on FR 4242Q for a while and enjoy a pink granite canyon. When you’re ready, come back to the road and take it up a hill. When you reach a ‘T’ in the trail, turn left. Towards the end of the hike you’ll come to your last fork. Make a hard left and head down hill past the Black Hawk mine.

Notes: There will be some mild rock climbing and muddy spots along the first portion of the hike. At a few spots you will enjoy views of Bullard Peak. Expect to encounter cattle. They like to have their pictures taken, so ask them to smile. Several hikers mentioned previous kudamundi sightings in this area.

History lesson: The mining town of Black Hawk appeared in the 1880’s when silver was discovered in the area. The discovery of the Black Hawk Mine, and several others in the area, saw the beginning of the town. In the summer of 1883 the town had approximately 30 men employed in mining. By the end of the same year, there was close to 125, and the town was large enough to include a post office. In the late 1880’s production declined and the town was vacated. Today, hardly any evidence of the town exists. By the end, the Black Hawk Mine had produced one million worth of silver.

What can a reader do to learn more about the minerals in our area? Lee encourages readers to attend a meeting of the Grant County Rolling Stones Gem and Mineral Society. The meetings are on the 2nd Thursday of the month at the Silver City Senior Citizens Center (204 West Victoria at south end of town off of NM 90). A pot luck precedes the meeting at 6:00 pm. The meeting begins at 6:45 pm and is followed by an educational program.

May 2014 – Saddlerock Canyon area

Trooping Along

Tackling Saddlerock Canyon with Boy Scout Troop 930.

You don’t need a professional trainer to get good aerobic exercise — just hike with six members of local Boy Scout Troop 930 out in the Saddlerock Canyon area. Recently, on a sunny Saturday morning, I got such a workout. The group included: Kagen Richey, birthday boy Will Kammerer, Steven Cross, Richard Gallegos, Oscar Lopez, Aaron Lopez and Scout Leaders Ryan Cross, Brian Richey and Jamie Lopez, along with a golden retriever named Lego. These “Boy Scout Tenderfoots” were filling a requirement of a one-mile hike for both their Second and First Class awards. The leaders let the boys choose the trail and had them lead the way. With unending energy, they treated every rock outcropping like nature’s jungle gym.

hiking 1

Throughout the morning hike they told me about many Boy Scout activities. Their favorites include cleaning the Big Ditch, camping in Meadow Creek, and spending a week at Camp Wehinahpay near Cloudcroft. At the camp, they can earn badges by learning such things as leatherworking, basket weaving, wood carving, knot tying, Indian lore, compass and map reading, swimming, fishing, rifle, shotgun, first aid, climbing, environmental science and fire building.

They have also assisted the Forest Service with erosion issues by playing a game called “Gold Rush”: The boys are divided into two teams (Prospectors and Indians) and they have to move rocks from one spot to the erosion area; whoever gets the most rocks over to the erosion area wins. Their most recent such project was last year at the base of Signal Peak.

During our hike, they scampered up a steep incline in moments, while I huffed and puffed, stumbled and fell, sweated and clawed my way to the top (all worth it, my friends, all worth it). I’m proud to say I came home dirtier than on any other hike. I admit I was the last one up to the top; I was not going to be the last one down. How did I accomplish that? I pointed my finger at the troop and told them, “No one goes ahead of me!” Call it “grandma intimidation” if you must; it worked.

Name: Off Trail in Saddlerock Canyon

Distance: Various

Difficulty: 20% hard, 60% moderate, 20% easy

Directions: From the intersection of Hwy. 180 and Hwy. 90 in Silver City, take Hwy. 180 west 12.9 miles to Saddlerock Canyon Road (on the south side of the highway). This road is close to mile marker 100 and is right after Mangus Valley Road. Make a left on Saddlerock Canyon Road. Travel on this dirt road for 1.3 miles, which is where the Gila National Forest sign will be. Soon after the sign, the dirt road divides. Stay to the right. This is Forest Road 810. You know you are correct if you see cattle corrals on your left (a few minutes up the road). At the 2.4-mile mark, park. You are now at the base of Saddle Rock. It is on your left as you look up the road. For this off-trail hike, you are going to head up the short dirt road to the right. There are many other hiking opportunities here, of varying levels of difficulty.

hiking 2

 

 

Hike Description: After a short walk up the dirt road, you’ll see a campground. Continue walking up the gap (no trail here) in front of you. It soon becomes very narrow with thick brush. Make your way to the left up the very steep side of the hill. Climb to the top. If you’re 12 years old, this will take moments. If your knees are 53 years old, this will take 20 minutes. Once you get to the top, you will enjoy 360-degree views. Continue upward along the ridge and enjoy the many interesting rock formations and views. Spend some time exploring the rocks. Go as long as you dare and then head down the hill to the base of Saddlerock Canyon. Walk along the road back to your vehicle.

After the hike, I asked the boys what they carried in their packs. I got a long list: water, knife and knife sharpener, poncho, snack, first aid kit, cell phone, lighter or matches, and flashlight.

Several also gave me words of advice for my readers: “Think before you do.” “Stay together.”

Interested in learning more about becoming a Boy Scout? Troop Leader Ryan Cross encourages any boy between the ages of 11 and 18 to contact him if they are interested in joining the Boy Scouts. Call him at (575) 538-1694.

“Before joining, you can come and see if you think it’s fun and something you’d like to do,” adds scout Will Kammerer.

 

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saucer

 

The reveal of what the “Flying Saucer” from my April 2014 column really is: Russell Ward of the Gila National Forest explains, “The fiberglass dome is actually a water collection and disbursement device called a ‘Wildlife Guzzler’ [picturd below left]. Many were installed in the late 1980s and early 1990s in the Gila National Forest, mostly in remote areas that are extremely dry. Rain or snow hits the fiberglass top and runs down the sides and collects in a tank under the dome. Water is then disbursed to the trough on the side where animals may drink.”

September 2013 – Forest Road 4246, Burro Mountains

Name: Forest Road 4246, Burro Mountains

Distance: Various

Difficulty: Easy to moderate

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Directions: From the intersection of Highway 90 and Highway 180, drive west on 180 12.8 miles. Turn left onto Mangus Valley Road. Go 4.6 miles and turn right onto Red Rock Road. At the 2.4-mile mark, you will cross over a cattle guard and the road turns into a well-maintained dirt road. At the 3.2-mile mark, turn left onto T-T Road (aka T Bar T). Go 0.9 mile to the end of this road and turn left. Go 0.2 mile and you will reach another cattle guard. After the cattle guard, turn right onto Forest Road 819. Go 0.3 miles and park. You will see a dirt road on both sides of the road. This article describes the hike to the right, which is Forest Road 4246. (As of this February there was no Forest Road sign at this location, but you will see several markers along the trail.)

Hike Description: The road goes through a sandy area and then starts a gentle and steady climb upwards. There are striking long-range views of Jack’s Peak, the Mogollons, the Tyrone Mine and more along the way and lots of wildlife evidence and sightings (if you’re quiet enough). This appears to be a well-used trail as we saw foot prints, tire tracks and two ATVers on the trail. The terrain is rolling hills with piñon, juniper and scrub oak.

Notes: There are several interesting trails in this vicinity. Enjoy exploring them during the cooler months.

Helpful Hint: It’s hunting season. Wear bright colors; put bright colors on your pets. I buy bright orange T-shirts at one of the secondhand stores in town for my dogs.

 

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

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

 

March 2013 – Georgetown Road – FR 4085L

Name: Georgetown Road — Forest Road 4085L

Distance: Various

Difficulty: Easy to moderate

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Directions: Starting at the intersection of Hwy. 90 and Hwy. 180, take Hwy. 180 East to Hwy. 152 (7.3 miles). Turn left (north) onto Hwy. 152 and drive 6.3 miles to Georgetown Road. Turn left on Georgetown Road (a very well-maintained dirt road). Travel 1.5 miles to a cattle guard. Right after the cattle guard, on your left, you’ll see FR 4085L. There is a sign for it.

Hike Description: In this hike you will experience a lot of up and down hill terrain. It is nicely treed with the typical juniper, scrub oak and pines. I like this area because there’s a lot to enjoy: wildlife, views of the Kneeling Nun and Gila National Forest, ranch activity and mining history. It’s also close enough to town that you can get there quickly. Keep track of which trail you’re on because there are many intersecting trails and forest roads back there (all worth exploring).

Notes: If you’re interested in area history, you may want to check out the following locations along Georgetown Road:
1. When you turn in from Hwy. 152, go just 0.4 miles. On your left you will see an old cemetery. There are interesting markers to check out.
2.  If you continue on Georgetown Road (past FR 4085L), at the 3.9-mile mark you will see another cemetery. (For more on this historic cemetery, see “Grave Undertaking,” Desert Exposures – November 2007 Tumbleweeds.)
3. At the 4.5-mile mark you can park the car and explore the old building foundations and mining remnants.
4. At the 4.9-mile mark, you’ll come to the Georgetown Cabins. They have an informative sign on the right that describes the history of this area and other points of interest. (For more on the cabins, see “High-Tech Hideaway,” Desert Exposure – September 2009 Tumbleweeds.)
5. Continue to explore down the side trails and you’ll be rewarded with various mining-activity remnants. Cool stuff!

Helpful Hint: The more you know about your hiking area (desert, shaded, mountainous, rocky, water nearby, etc.), the better prepared you can be. For example, if the trail has lots of loose rocks, you may want to bring hiking poles and wear hiking boots that support your ankles.

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

http://www.desertexposure.com

February 2013 – Saddle Rock Canyon Road

Name: Saddlerock Canyon Road

Difficulty: Easy

Directions: From the intersection of Hwy. 180 and Hwy. 90, take Hwy. 180 west 12.9 miles to Saddlerock Canyon Road (on the south side of the highway). This road is close to mile marker 100 and is right after Mangus Valley Road. Travel on the dirt road for 1.3 miles to where the Gila National Forest sign will be. Soon after the sign, the dirt road divides. Stay to the right. You know you are correct if you see cattle corrals to your left (a few minutes up the road). Soon you will enjoy interesting rock formations. Continue on this road until you reach the green gate (a mile or two). Park.

Hike Description: Walk through the green gate and hike up the trail until you see the “Riparian Area” sign (a 5-10 minute walk). If you go straight, you will soon enjoy the canyon with little waterfalls (seasonal). If you go to the right, there is a lovely trail through sandy areas, groves of trees and mild hills. Once in the canyon, you’ll also see the distinctive saddle-shaped rock that gives the canyon its name. You could travel anywhere from 1 mile to 10 miles hiking in this area.

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Notes: The hiking options in this area are many. There are several side trails and dirt roads to explore. This area is worth many trips back to investigate. There are many fences to traverse; please be respectful of ranchers’ livelihoods.

Helpful Hint: Carry things that serve more than one purpose: bandana (sun guard, hat, dust guard, wash cloth, tissue, signal flag, bandage, tourniquet), knife (cutting tool, screw driver, pick, scraper, eating utensil, toothpick), plastic bag (carry-all, carrying out garbage, water collection, tourniquet, hat, rain guard, signal flag).

This is an article that was originally published in “Desert Exposure”. Check them out at:  http://www.desertexposure.com

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

Hike #95 – Gila National Forest – Burro Mountains

09-11-12 – Saddlerock Canyon Road

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

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

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4.62 Miles / 2.25 Hours

95 down /5 to go

Hike #91 – Gila National Forest – Burro Mountains – Silby Road

The Louisiana Street Hiker’s Club

In a small town, you know most people through 3 different connections. Today’s hiking pals are such people. 1) I first met Liz and Joe through the Coldwell Banker office when they had us manage their rentals. 2) When Frank and I bought a triplex on Louisiana Street, we found out that Liz and Joe lived on one side of our building and owned a rental on the other side of our building. We were neighbors, kind of. 3) At the beginning of the year, a friend invited us to dinner and who was there? Liz and Joe!

So when I ran into Liz last week, she expressed interest in joining me on one of my 100 hikes. She is recovering from Hip Replacement surgery and was ready to get back to hiking. Which brings us to today’s hike. Although Liz is in great shape (she teaches aerobics and other classes), she wanted her first hike to be fairly level and of easier exertion.  I thought the Burro Mountain Homestead area might be in store. We could walk on the road, if necessary, or take one of the many side trail/forest roads. Me, Joe, Liz and Cody packed up the car and headed out.

When we reached Silby Road, we parked and headed out. The road quickly forked onto an old Forest Road, and we chose to head uphill on the smaller FR trail. The landscape was beautiful, with rolling hills, long-range views, interesting boulders and the occasional ranch fence line. I also saw two signs that I’ve never seen anywhere else: “No Shooting. Occupied Area. 150 Yards”. And another that said: “Fire Rescue Route” Those are 2 signs that hold important information! Thank you!

Towards the end of the hike, we ended up back on the road and a nice gentleman hauling a saddled horse stopped for a chat. He gave us some ideas of some cool hikes in the area. Thank you sir! We’ll be back again!

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3.89 Miles / 2.0 Hours

91 down /9 to go