Blog Archives

May 2016 – San Francisco Hot Springs

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.

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Here is an interesting hike to consider:

Name:  San Francisco Hot Springs

Distance: Variable

Difficulty: Moderate

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.

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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).

 

January 2016 – Nature Conservancy Land – Mimbres

Marilyn Markel – Nature Conservancy Land – Mimbres

If you want to meet fascinating people, I suggest that you start hiking and writing articles. Once again I got lucky and heard about this interesting woman who is an archeologist, is involved with the Mattocks Ruins in the Mimbres and who agreed to hike with me. Marilyn Markel is a native New Mexican who graduated from The University of New Mexico and currently keeps busy with The Mimbres Culture Heritage Site – Mattocks Ruins (MCHS), teaches at Aldo Leopold once a week, facilitates with the WILL Program, and is president of the Grant County Archaeological Society.

We hiked recently at the Nature Conservancy’s Mimbres land which is 600 acres of riparian delight. The property, which was established as Nature Conservancy land in 1994, includes 5 miles of Mimbres River and is home to the endangered Chihuahua chub (fish) and the Chiricahua leopard frog.

It has a diverse landscape including forest, savanna, grasslands, cienegas (marshes), springs and stream. It’s a beautiful place, even in the winter, so lace up those boots!

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Hike Name:  The Nature Conservancy – Mimbres Valley

Distance:  2+ miles

Difficulty: easy, but wet

Directions: From the intersection of 180 and 152, turn North onto Highway 152 north and drive 14 miles to Highway 35. Make a left onto Highway 35 north and drive for approximately 8.5 miles. There will be a steep, rutted driveway on the right. Pull in the driveway and park. If you pass 3448 Highway 35, you just missed it.

Hike Description: Start the hike by walking through the gate on the left. It is facing the barn, which dates to the 1890’s. Follow the path to the river. When you pass by the old saw, stop for a moment and realize that this saw probably cut the wood for the barn you parked near. Cross the river and maneuver (no trail visible here) through the trees and then the field until you pick up the old military road at the base of the hills. Walk on the road for the remainder of the hike.

Notes: 

Come to terms with the fact that you’re feet are going to get wet on this hike and prepare ahead. I suggest you place dry socks and shoes in your vehicle. Marilyn was smarter than me and brought old shoes in her backpack and changed before we entered the water.

The word ‘Mimbres’ means ‘willow’ in Spanish and I saw a few desert willows still sporting green leaves while we were there.

Before our hike, Marilyn gave me a tour of the Mimbres Culture Heritage Site.

The site, which is owned by the Imogene F. Wilson Education Foundation, contains a 1000 year old, 200 room Mimbres pueblo ruin which was built on top of an earlier pit house village. It is estimated that approximately 90 people lived here.

The property also contains 2 adobe buildings dating from the 1880’s which have their own interesting history including murder, insanity, and jail escapes. Over time, the site has been improved and now includes a small museum and a walking path with interpretive sign boards explaining the ruin layout and lives of the people who resided there. The museum resides in one of the adobe buildings, called the Gooch House. In addition to local Native American history, the museum also contains more recent history including mining and ranching in the area. Be sure to spend a few minutes looking at the photos from the early 1900’s.

It’s a great site for learning about Native Americans. Beloit College in Wisconsin, The University of Nevada – LV, The University of Texas, and Oregon State University have either  conducted summer field schools where pottery and other artifacts have been excavated at the site or, they used MCHS as a base camp when they were working at other sites in the Valley. Local grade school kids come to learn the history and are encouraged to imagine how life was 1000 years ago. I really like that there are pottery sherds in the museum for the kids to inspect and touch.

If you go out to the Mimbres, plan to stop at the MCHS and check it out. It is open from 11:00-3:00 on Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays. It is located between mile marker 3 and 4 on Highway 35, just past the Mimbres Café, approximately 5 miles south of the Nature Conservancy property.

Do you have any suggestions for visitors to the ruins?

“It’s important for visitors to leave artifacts where they belong. As soon as it’s moved or removed, the information that goes with them is lost.”

January 2015 – Fort Bayard Game Reserve

Petroglyph Paradise

Hiking the Dragonfly Trail with Silver City native Jeffrey Carrasco

On a crisp fall morning, I tied up my laces and drove over to Fort Bayard Game Reserve to meet Silver City native, Jeffrey Carrasco. I never fail to learn something when I hike with a new person and my hike with Jeffrey was no different.

During the walk he explained what the small ball-like ‘pods’ were on the scrub oaks we saw (don’t mind this east coaster; I thought it was a seed pod or eggshell of some sort). “Those are galls,” Jeffrey said. “Gall wasps inject fluid into the tree causing the tree cells to multiply and a gall is formed. The wasp larvae grow inside the gall.”

Naturally, I asked Jeffrey to describe one of his favorite hikes, and he picked the Dragonfly Trail.

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Name: Dragonfly Trail #720

Distance: various

Difficulty: easy

Directions: Starting at the corner of Highway 180 and 32nd Street Bypass, drive east on Highway 180 for 3.3 miles (between mile marker 118 and 119). Turn north (left) onto Arenas Valley Road and drive one mile straight to the parking lot and trail- head. The last tenth of a mile is dirt road. There are signs on the highway pointing to the turnoff for the Dragonfly Trail.

Hike Description: This is an easier, well-marked walk that offers many hiking options. Here I describe the trail we took to the petroglyphs 1.5 miles away. After parking in the second lot, enter through the green gate and past the information board. You will soon reach a fork. You can reach the dragonfly petroglyphs either way; we went to the right. At the second fork, stay to the right. At the third fork, stay to the left. From this point, brown trail markers clearly guide you right to the petroglyphs. When you see a Forest sign on a tree that says, “Who passed this way?” you’re there. The petroglyphs are among the boulders to your right and up the small hill. Enjoy exploring them but please don’t destroy or compromise the area in any way. Continue past the sign and return to the parking area using the loop trail. Walk about five minutes and you’ll come to a wooden sign that describes a few hiking options. If you go to the right here, you will travel north and meet Sawmill Wagon Road. Hike and explore to your heart’s content.

Notes: The entire area is mostly flat with a few easy hills and sometimes travels near or through Twin Sisters Creek, which may (or may not) contain water.

You will likely encounter other hikers, their dogs and possibly horses and their riders.

The Gila National Forest Service has a map of the trails in this area. They are located on 32nd Street Bypass.

I spoke with Elizabeth Toney of the Forest Service and she shared some information with me about the Dragonfly Petroglyph Site.

“The Dragonfly Petroglyphs at Fort Bayard were formally recognized and recorded as an archaeological site in 2003 through a joint effort by the Grant County Archaeological Society and the Gila National Forest,” she said. “The site is monitored by the New Mexico SiteWatch program. There are at least three dragonfly petroglyphs at that location along with numerous other petroglyphs. There are many different interpretations for what the dragonfly might mean. Some Archeologists have interpreted the dragonfly in Mimbres culture as a symbol of water and fertility. Archaeologists sometimes use ethnographic analogy to also interpret what the dragonfly petroglyph might mean. There are stories that describe the dragonfly as a creature that brought food to people in times of famine. The dragonfly is also thought of as a shamanistic creature that are messenger-type beings sent to open up springs.”


Buildings, days gone by

Jeffrey’s family has been in the Silver City area for generations. I asked him to tell us about the good old days.

As we walked, Jeffrey shares some remembrances and family history. First he describes how Silver City has changed.

“JC Penney was on Bullard Street where Workshops of Carneros was,” he said. “TG&Y (a five-and-dime) was where the Billy Casper Wellness Center now stands. Smith’s Music was on Bullard where Manzanita Ridge is currently. There was a store called “Sprouse-Reitz” (five and dime) where Sun Valley is today. Piggly Wiggly (supermarket) was where Family Dollar (corner of highways180 and 90) is today, and next to that was Anthony’s Clothing. The first Walmart was where Ace Hardware is now. On Highway 180, where the County Administration building now stands was a variety of department stores. Bealls used to be a Kmart.

Then he tells me about his family.

“One grandmother was born in Catron County and another in Cleveland Mine. My mother was born in Santa Rita. In order to visit family in Pinos Altos, they would travel from Santa Rita in a wagon. She told me it took three days.”

Then Jeffrey described some memories of his childhood. He attended the Sixth Street School until, in second grade (circa 1984), someone set it on fire. At that point they went to classes in the library at Jose Barrios until portable classrooms were set up at Harrison Schmitt School. That chain of events caused him to miss out on an experience he had looked forward to as a child.

“Miss Packard was the third grade teacher at Sixth Street School and every year around Christmas she invited her class to her home on Broadway (now “The Inn on Broadway”). I remember my cousins describing how they slid down the banister. Because of that fire, I never was able to do that.”

“You should put that on your bucket list,” I told him.

“I actually was at a meeting at the Inn on Broadway” once,” Jeffrey said with a laugh. “And I was so tempted to do it!”
This is a repost of an article that was originally published in December 2014 in Desert Exposure.

August 2014 – Sacaton Creek

Up a Creek

Hiking with Nancy and Ralph Gordon along Sacaton Creek.

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

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

 

 

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

Name: Sacaton Creek

Distance: 4.0 miles, round trip

Difficulty: Moderate

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

July 2014 – Cherry Creek

Kids’ Stuff

A Cherry Creek hike even a 10-year-old can love.

by Linda Ferrara

Short and sweet — wait, is that describing the hiker or the hike?

Haylee Kelley is a 10-year-old Girl Scout I met about a year ago. She is of slight build and is sweet, inquisitive, smart and wonderful and will be in the fifth grade come August. She has lived in Silver City for most of her life and enjoys playing right and center field in softball, fishing, golfing, shooting, and playing on her tablet.

After I assured her that even if we saw a snake, the chances of us being hurt by one were slim, we went on a hike up Hwy. 15, north of town. It was a warm summer day and we talked about everything from wanting Barbie’s RV to whether we wanted to live forever or not. After much discussion we decided that we wouldn’t mind living forever as long as we could be healthy and active. We checked out a variety of flowers, leaves, bugs, and a horny toad that Haylee had no problem picking up. She even taught me a new word when she described fresh strawberries: “They’re amazalicious!”

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Here’s a description on the hike we went on:

Name: Cherry Creek

Distance: 1.6 miles

Difficulty: Easy

Directions: Starting at the intersection of Hwy. 15 (Pinos Altos Road) and 32nd Street, travel 10 miles up Hwy. 15. Park in the small pull-off on the right. Walk to the other side of the road and back up the road where you just came from. You will soon see a trail that goes into the woods. Follow this trail as it meanders along Cherry Creek.


Hike Description:
This is an easy, shady hike for a warm summer day. It is mostly flat with a few small hills to climb, sheer rock surfaces that are easily traversed and several downed trees to negotiate. Be sure to look up through the trees and enjoy the interesting rock formations high above. Along the way, you will encounter small ponds and waterfalls. At the 0.7-mile marker you may even be tempted to climb and explore some of the boulders. At the 0.8-mile mark, the trail ends (or at least I can’t find the way through). When you get towards the end, the trail forks and is occasionally hidden. After a little searching, you’ll find your way. (Remember, you’re walking along a creek with steep walls — just keep near the stream and you’ll be fine.) If you go during monsoon season, please be careful as there are many creek crossings.

Would you recommend this hike to other kids? Haylee answered slowly, “Well… yeah, it’s a lot more fun than playing video games!”

Columnist’s Note: I originally had another hike planned for this month’s column. On May 6, 2014, I hiked on the CD Trail off of Signal Peak with a member of the local Audubon Society who taught me a lot about birding in the area. I eagerly went home and wrote up a delightfully interesting article about my experience. Five days later, the very trail we were on was engulfed in the Signal Fire that burned 5,485 acres in the Gila. I felt sick thinking of the forest I love so much burning. I’d spotted a western tanager (a beautiful yellow and red bird) on our hike, and when the fire was raging I kept wondering where that bird ended up (sigh).

I will write a new article in the future about hikes for birders, but in the meantime I thought this might be a good time to share a few resources regarding fires. You can follow Gila National Forest fire incidents at: inciweb.nwcg.gov/unit/3178.

There was a Facebook page set up that shared information and photos of the Signal Peak fire: www.facebook.com/SignalFireNM. So if there’s another fire, you might search on Facebook to see if they have a page for information.

If you’re interested in learning more about fire management, I suggest you read “Fire Season: Field Notes from a Wilderness Lookout” by Philip Connors. It discusses his experiences as a fire lookout in the Gila National Forest. If you’re a nature lover, this book will remind you of why you are. It explains a lot about the life of the forest and the cycles it goes through. The Silver City Museum has copies for sale, and the Public Library of Silver City has a few copies to borrow.

This was first published in Desert Exposure – July 2014

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

June 2014 – Mogollon Box Loop Hike

In the Loop

Hiking a loop around the Mogollon Box with Kathy Whiteman,
director of WNMU’s Outdoor Program.

Kathy Whiteman, director of WNMU’s Outdoor Program, has lived in rural settings for most of her life. She was raised in northwest Pennsylvania, has spent time in Washington State, and made it to New Mexico in the mid-1990s. Her credentials include a Bachelor of Fine Arts from Edinboro University, a Bachelor of Science (botany) from Western New Mexico University, and a Master’s and PhD in Biology (plant ecology) from New Mexico State University.

She is exceedingly knowledgeable about the plants, animals and terrain of our wilderness backyard, which made her an excellent hiking partner. She has traveled throughout the Gila on foot and mule for almost two decades. Clearly, she is especially competent to run the Outdoor Program for WNMU.

You can tell she has hiked with inexperienced hikers before. She reminded me to bring a snack, water, river shoes and a hat. She also sent me a link to a Google map that showed where we were going. This is my kind of hiker!

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Name: Mogollon Box Loop Hike

Distance: 4.25 miles

Difficulty: Moderate

Directions: Starting at the intersection of Hwy. 180 and Little Walnut Road in Silver City, drive 28 miles to mile marker 84. Make a right onto S211 and drive 1 mile to a fork in the road. Stay to the left and drive 6.9 miles to trailhead. Park in the Mogollon Box campground.
Hike description: Keep in mind that the flood we had last fall re-structured parts of the river so that some of the trails/markers are not immediately obvious. Go around the brown gate and walk on the road. Just before the green gate (a minute or two of walking), on the right, you will see a brown Gila National Forest trailhead marker. Take this trail through the trees and after one or two minutes, look for a trail on your left. Now trek through a dry river bed until you pick up the trail again (as of May 1, there were blue tape markers hanging in the trees showing the way). You will soon see the trail. Take it to your first river crossing. You will see the trail on the other side of the water.

This is a loop trail that crosses the Gila River five times and works its way over a mountain. You will pass the Gila USGS gauging station along the way. Walk past the gauge equipment and follow the two-track road back to the car.

We saw six desert bighorn sheep along the way, a gopher snake, and a hiking fool who fell in the water twice (it’s not necessary to name names).

Notes: If the river is flowing when you cross, be careful. The rocks under the water are slippery and the water is flowing faster than you think!

If you prefer an easier, drier hike, at the green gate, keep heading northwest on the two-track road and follow it all the way to the gauging station. Return the way you came. No river crossings for this modified hike, but take plenty of water with you, as there is very little shade.

Tell me about a particularly memorable hiking experience: As I click my camera overlooking the Gila River, Kathy shares a story. “Not surprisingly, one of the stupidest things I’ve ever done involved alcohol. I was in my 20s and spending a lot of time backpacking in the Gila. One afternoon a friend of mine dropped me and another friend off at a trailhead. The two of us hikers had been drinking and were pretty toasted when we started down the trail. We had very heavy packs and were planning to make it to a base camp we’d set up 12 miles away.

“We were having a great time, drunk as skunks, when it started to snow. It was one of those big snows with heavy wet flakes that stick. It was beautiful and we were like kids, throwing snowballs and me, making snow angels. Before long, I was soaking wet and cold; I wasn’t dressed for the snow.

“Not surprisingly, by the time it started getting dark, we were a long way from our intended camp spot. We had enough sense to make camp before the light was completely gone, but our hands were so cold that we couldn’t light a match or use a lighter. We had trouble putting up the tent. We only had one sleeping bag.

“When I look back on this experience, I realize how lucky I was, and how embarrassingly stupid. The Gila’s ‘gentle seasons’ can be unforgiving; nature is not sympathetic to human ignorance. Getting sloppy drunk out in the wilderness is about as dumb as it gets. Thankfully, I learned from this experience.”

What is the WNMU Outdoor Program all about? “The Outdoor Program (OP) allows students of WNMU to take classes for academic credit. Classes include Outdoor Leadership, Foundations in Experiential and Adventure Education, Introduction to Rock Climbing, Introduction to Backpacking, SCUBA, Fundamentals of Search and Rescue, Mountain Biking and more. This fall the OP is teaming with the Art Department to offer a wilderness photography course. Participants will learn photography and practice skills on a four-day horse-packing trip to photograph elk. The university Outpost has gear for rent to students and the public as well as maps and other information.

“Students (and WILL members) may also attend trips (not for credit) that the outdoor program leads. Previous trips have included: Carlsbad Caverns, scuba diving, skiing/snowboarding, White Sands National Monument, whitewater rafting, and wilderness horseback riding.”

Want to know more about WNMU’s Outdoor Program? Check out their website: www.wnmuoutdoors.org.

 

To read more about Linda Ferrara’s 100-hike challenge, check out her blog at 100hikesinayear.wordpress.com.

 

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

March 2014 – Table Mountain Trail – City of Rocks

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!

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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.

 

City Of Rocks Map

 

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/

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

 

June 2013 – CD Trail off of Signal Peak Road

Name: CD Trail from Signal Peak Road

Distance: various

Difficulty: moderate

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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