Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Holden Prong/Las Animas Creek Backpack - Aldo Leopold Wilderness




It was chilly on Mcknight Mountain. A little bit raw compared to the already balmy weather in the lowlands.The clouds were rushing by.The wind and chill , and the tortuous drive up the Mcknight Road, completely exposed the fact that my backpacking partner had zero enthusiasm for this trip. Still I was determined. I had been hoping to get back to Las Animas Creek for 5 years. 3 years ago I made a mental note of the then marked turnoff for the Water Canyon trail when we hiked the Crest trail to Mimbres Lake. Why I can remember things like this - I don't know. The turnoff was no longer marked and the trail no longer obvious.There were remnants of a cairn hidden in the grass and aspen saplings and about 10 yards down the hill an actual tread to follow.The Water Canyon trail is rapidly becoming more like a place where a trail used to be than a real trail. Small aspens and locusts grow in the path. Downfall crossings are frequent. Most of the lower end has very little tread to follow and many steep stream crossings. In addition to those trail conditions, the rising temperature and humidity as we descended to the bottom(3'500 feet lower) made the chill on the mountaintop a distant memory. Even though it is entirely downhill and only 5 miles long(supposedly) it took us over 4 hours to reach the Holden Prong trail. We hadn't backpacked in few years,but our skills were still good and we set up camp. Bear sign was everywhere. It had not been a carefree ramble in the woods.IMPORTANT UPDATE: much of this hike  was within the perimeter of the Silver Fire, conditions may be vastly altered(June,2013).

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