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March 2016 – Rocky Creek – Trail 803

If you spend any time at the Habitat for Humanity ReStore on Market St., you probably have seen or met Charlie Freye. For nine years, the 66-year-old from Muskegon, Michigan, has volunteered there and currently serves as the Board Secretary. He happily told me that he has purchased half of his hiking gear at the ReStore including a hat, pole, shirt and boots.

The Habitat ReStore is a wonderful example of the recycle/reuse/reduce model. If you hate throwing away items (construction materials, furniture, appliance and household items), but you don’t want or need them anymore, you can donate it to the ReStore (they will even pick up items at your location). They sort and resell cheaply and use the proceeds to assist local residents by either building homes, or more recently, repairing existing homes. It reduces the waste in landfills, helps local residents by offering inexpensive materials and products, and assists local residents get into a new home or improve the one they’re in. Their motto is “Miss a Day – Miss a Deal”.   Call 575-534-9727 to arrange a pick up. Or stop by with your donations Wed-Thurs-Fri 1-4 pm, Sat 9-12. They are located at 704 W. Market St.

Charlie and his wife Gail volunteer at various organizations around Grant County. Charlie at Habitat for Humanity and Gail with Literacy Link – Leamos.  They met each other while bike racers back in Michigan, so it was natural that when they arrived here they got involved with the Tour of The Gila where they drive support vehicles and host riders. Charlie encourages everyone to help with the bike race in some way…it’s an excellent way to help the community.

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

Name:  Rocky Canyon

Distance:  Variable

Difficulty: Moderate

Directions: From the intersection of Highway 180 and 32nd Street, drive east on 180 to Highway 152 (5.4 miles). Take 152 for 13.9 miles and turn left onto Highway 35. Drive north on 35 for 14.7 miles and make a right onto North Star Mesa Road. Drive 12.0 miles on North Star Mesa Road until you reach the Rocky Canyon Camp Ground. Pull in and park on left. This is a large campground area with a port-o-potty. There is a wooden forest service sign near the beginning that directs you to a few options including, Tr. 700, Brannon Park, Tr. 803, Apache Creek and Hwy 35. Starting at the sign, walk .3 miles and look for a half hidden 4 x 4 post on your left. It has ‘803’ scratched into it. Here is where you will head off of the main trail and go to the left, onto Trail 803.


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Hike Description: This is a shady trail up a canyon that is…. ahem….rocky. The trail meanders across the canyon floor with numerous stream crossings. Along the way you will enjoy ponderosas, seasonal water, a few hoodoos and other large rock formations. At the .8 mm, find several caves at or near canyon floor level.

Do you have any observations you’d like to share? Like many other local outdoorspeople, Charlie expresses concern over the effect that the proposed Gila River diversion will have to Turkey Creek and the surrounding area. If it happens, the diversion threatens the beautiful canyons, hot springs, wilderness hiking and camping spots.

Tell me about a memorable hiking experience: I ask all of my hiking subjects the same question and Charlie responded like most avid hikers. He lists many unforgettable outdoor experiences including: rafting the lower Gila Box, hiking in Black Canyon off of North Star Mesa Rd., backpacking in Aravaipa Canyon in Arizona, a hard walk to Alum Camp, hiking to Skunk Johnson’s Cabin, a creepy hike where they came across an old homestead and possible graves, and a memorable day up Sheep Corral Canyon Road when a man on horseback galloped past calling, “fuego!” It was the day of the Signal Peak Fire. He and Gail got out safely but not without an unhealthy, heart-pounding dose of fear.

Charlie describes himself as “not a goal-oriented hiker.” I understood exactly what he meant when he said it. I meet a lot of hikers and some of them are trying to go as fast as possible, or as far as possible, or undertaking the CD Trail in one season. So Charlie’s self-description was appropriate for his style. Along our hike, we stopped occasionally to investigate, or talk, or take photos. No marching or pushing forward on this day.  And you know what? It was great!


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.


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.”

November 2014 – Trail 96 near Lake Roberts

Hunting for Hiking Real Estate

Exploring Trail 96 near Lake Roberts with Robin Thomas.

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

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

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

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

Name: Trail #96

Distance: various

Difficulty: moderate

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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


January 2014 – Little Bear Canyon–Trail 729

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

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

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

Name: Little Bear Canyon–Trail 729

Distance: Eight miles, round trip

Difficulty: Moderate

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

February 2014 – Purgatory Chasm

A beautiful hike with Bob Pelham, Photographer

Silver City is full of fascinating people and Bob Pelham is certainly one of them. He leads tours to Latin American destinations such as the Amazon rain forest, is an accomplished photographer, owns and operates Pinos Altos Cabins, is extremely knowledgeable about border security, seems to know every secret natural wonder in a 100-mile radius, and has a cunningly corny sense of humor. I have always enjoyed his nature photographs that he regularly posts on Facebook, so I was pleased when he agreed to talk to me about hiking.

I asked him to describe one of his favorite hikes that he’d like to share with readers:

Name: Purgatory Chasm
Distance: 2.2 miles, round-trip


Directions: From Silver City, drive north on Hwy. 15 until you reach the intersection with Hwy. 35 (just past mile marker 25). Turn right onto Hwy. 35 and go four miles. You will see signs for Lake Roberts on the right and there is a brown forest sign on the left saying “Purgatory Chasm Trailhead.” There is parking just past the sign. You can either walk on the highway to the sign and begin at the trailhead there, or, if you look closely, you will see a trail on the west side of the parking lot.

Hike description: The trail begins by walking through forest and arroyo scenery. Soon after you start walking, the trail splits. You may take either direction as it is a loop trail. We started to the left since that’s the quickest way to the chasm. You will soon enter the chasm and wonder at the steep walls and interesting twists and turns. Stop for a moment and notice the echo your voice makes. Cairns guide you along the way and are markers for side trails to explore. At the end of the chasm, there used to be a wooden ladder that you would climb up, but on our visit on Dec. 19, 2013, it was not there.

Look up and see a cairn. Scramble up, being sure to look back and marvel at the sharp curves of the canyon before you continue on the trail. From here, the trail continues through the woods and starts a gently downhill walk back to the car.

Note: The “Flash Flood” sign should be heeded; we saw evidence of flooding as we traversed this trail. Also, remember that cairns are temporary markers and may or may not be there when you visit.

Tell me about a particularly memorable hiking experience: “About 20 years ago I did a lot of hiking in Fakahatchee Strand Preserve, near Naples, Fla. It is a swamp forest, densely foliated with bald cypress, royal palms, bromeliads and endemic orchids. I hiked there many times, often in ankle-to-knee-deep water. One day I led a photo tour of about 17 students from my photography class through the swamp. As we waded through the water taking photos of foliage, frogs and snakes, we suddenly spotted a poisonous cottonmouth (a.k.a. water moccasin) snake, curled up on a cypress stump protruding above the water surface. All 17 people wanted a picture and we slowly surrounded and moved in on him. Suddenly, the snake sprang into the water (did I mention it was murky, dark water?) and disappeared. Imagine the splashing that 17 people made leaping away from this stump all in different directions!

Purgatory Chasm (above) and hiker-photographer Bob Pelham. (Photos courtesy Bob Pelham)

“Looking back, I am surprised that I never got lost in that swamp. When you’re knee-deep in water, there’s no trail to follow, no footprints or markers. I guess I have a good sense of direction with this sort of thing.”

Do you have any observations you’d like to share? Pelham looks out the window towards the mountains near Mexico. “When I moved here, friends in Florida asked me if I would miss the ocean and beach. But I have found that the desert resembles the beach…. Both have long-range views, and a rolling landscape. Driftwood resembles dead cholla and aged juniper.”

He adds, “The interesting wildlife of the Gila is a good substitute for the alligators and other critters of Florida,” which is why he visits Florida frequently to reconnect with them — and family and friends, of course.

Before we part, Pelham mentions that he always wears one of his ever-present Aussie-style hats, never wears shorts while hiking (he is often down on his knees taking photographs), and rarely uses a GPS.

Try to meet him if you get the opportunity; you may be able to get him to tell you about his 50-plus trips to Costa Rica and other Central and South American countries.

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

October 2013 – Allie Canyon – Mimbres Valley

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


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

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


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

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:

Hike #80 – FR 4085E – Off Georgetown Rd.; Gila National Forest

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Today’s hike was in the Georgetown Rd area. There’s many side roads back there so April, Dora and Cisco joined me in an exploration. We climbed up Forest Road 4085E and ended up on a ridge overlooking the Santa Rita mines. It’s a pleasant, sunny trail with scrub oaks, junipers and the like.

The area was full of rabbits that Cisco unsuccessfully chased. We saw quite a few along with some turkey, some horny toads and a tarantula. Rainy weather brings out more than just the grasses!


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5.21 miles /2.0 hours

80 down /20 to go

Hike #79 – Georgetown Cemetery and Vicinity

Thursday, July 19, 2012 – Cemetery, Mines and Mud……

I have been meaning to explore the Georgetown Cemetery area for a while now and since I was a solo hiker today, I decided to check it out. Helen and I had explored the Georgetown Road area in the past; there are lots of trails and Forest Roads in the area. The terrain is hilly, with creeks and good tree cover with scrub oaks, juniper and a few ponderosa.

First I entered the cemetery and looked at the headstones. I was struck by several things. Some of the graves were over 100 years old and a few were only 5 years old. Also, some of the markers were impressive while many were simple. When I saw a few that held babies, it reminded how tough it was 100 years ago and how far we’ve come with medicine and easy living.

The little research I had done told me that this was a mining area and I was in front of a full cemetery, so where were the buildings and mines? Since the hills held the answers, I headed for them. I quickly and consistently came upon remnants of old buildings and mining holes although most of what I found was merely rubble. I could see by the wood pieces that they held age. Twice I found what looked like grave markers. I found evidence of old roads but they stopped and started and were hard to follow due to the creeks and tree growth. When I went to rest on a boulder, I found a newer helmet light sitting there and remembered seeing a mine cave back a ways. Some courageous soul crawled into that; they’re braver than me (but I am curios if they found anything….)! I once again learned that getting off the trail is a great way of seeing more!

As I headed back to the car, I came upon the main road and followed it back. Shortly I heard a vehicle approaching and grabbed Cody’s collar. A nice man drove up on his 4–wheeler with a fabulous border collie riding on the back. We chatted for a few minutes and I asked him if I could take a photo – our dogs look enough alike to spark my interest. But his is only 4 years old while mine is 11.

There were a spots where I was hiking that were a little rough: rocky, muddy, steep. Ever since I’ve been using 2 light weight poles, these obstacles have been easier to overcome (okay I did land on my butt at one point, and my pants are FULL of mud, but that’s besides the point. Cody’s been on 4 paws for 11 years, I’ve only been doing it for a month or 2!). Now I know why dogs can climb these mountains better and faster than me – they’ve got 4 on the floor!

On the way back into town I was compelled to stop the car, fish the camera out from the pile of gear, and take a few shots of the Santa Rita Mine. Between the sunny day, the variety of exposed rocks and the green fields, I just had to click off a few!

If you’d like to read a little more about the cemetery, check out this article from Desert Exposure:


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3.5 miles /2.5 hours

79 down /21 to go

Hike #61 – Gila National Forest – South Ridge of Water Canyon

May 11, 2012 – I’m afraid of the big bad wolf…….

We are camping out in Water Canyon again and I was determined to climb the same ridge where I got lost 2 months ago. (for more information: I started up the same hill and realized that I wasn’t hiking alone, my friends Fear, Wimpy, Anxiety and Whiner had joined me. No less than 5 times, Anxiety stopped, looked up and considered turning around. Fear wanted me to go back and sit at the comfortable campsite, and Whiner was too hot and said “Let’s try again tomorrow in the early, cool morning”.

Even though I had a very distinct plan A and plan B for getting down, I was scared. I hate being scared! I hate being a wimp. I hate thinking I can’t do something. I got mad and then I got myself moving upwards and when I hit the halfway mark, I decided, I was already halfway up, may as well go the whole way.

I had forgotten how steep it was – and I was on the least steep hill I could find. I zigzagged my way up, stopping no less than 20 times for breathe. My two plans were, marking the Beejeesus out of the path up (remember that forgotten step on March 9th?) or, coming down the way I came down last time – which was following the cow trail. I easily found the way up, climbing up boulders through the cliff and on to the top. I added two bright orange bandanas to my pack just for this moment. I marked more spots than a purebred dog in the suburbs! I way pointed the spot on my GPS, I tied bandanas to trees, I put 4-5 cairns along the path and I even put a large branch on the old road up there, marking where I should turn off.


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The dogs and I went east this time and stayed on the road (not really a road, more like 2 tire tracks in the field). It is a beautiful place to be and I enjoyed long distance views, meadows and trees. The time came to turn around right after I saw a large dog through the brush. More movement and I realized it wasn’t a dog at all…. A wolf! Many things happened at the same time. It looked at me, turned and ran, my dogs took chase, and I yelled for the dogs to come back. I unholstered my gun — ready if necessary, I thought about wolves and their packs and that thought panicked me. My plan was to shoot in the air if I started hearing fighting through the trees, and hope that broke things up. With much relief, the dogs returned quickly and we high tailed it back to our turn off point, my head swiveling to look behind often. I thought that maybe it was a coyote, but it was bigger than 70 pound Cisco dog…..and the campsite poll that night was for the wolf. I just reviewed photographs of both coyotes and wolves and I’m pretty sure I saw a wolf.

That night, drinking a glass of wine, I realized…… this ridge kicks my butt, chews me up and spits me out – -that’s twice now!

2.99 miles / 3.0 hours

61 down / 39 to go