Sunday, October 7, 2007

Ladrone Trail( FT 127)- Aldo Leopold Wilderness

There are bugs in the forest.They don't sting or suck your blood.They just form an electron cloud around your head,and with a maddening frequency, divebomb your eyes, mouth and ears. I had already swallowed several when we had our first rest stop on the Ladron Trail. Strangely enough when we stopped moving, the bugs dissappeared. It was a mostly breezeless,warm, humid July day and with the added attraction of kamikaze insects, we were seriously thinking about turning back. Then we saw a hawk family, just going about their business in a tree across the trail 25 feet above us, and a little bit of Gila Forest magic must have flowed into us, because we didn't turn around, and continued our hike with good -spirited determination.
  Determination and good spirits is what you will need for this hike.The first stretch is an easy ramble along an old road that parallels Percha Creek.The trail then crosses the creek and you quickly begin a brutally steep climb on loose dry rock.Eventually it levels off and a rather pleasant ramble beside a dry stream commences. Alas, this comes to end, and you begin the first of several ridiculously steep sections that you must conquer before reaching your destination. We decided to forego the ultimate conclusion to Ladrone Trail ,which is its junction with the Crest Trail, and instead ended our trek at tiny Hillsboro Lake(more of a puddle on this day) We had previously hiked down from the Crest to Hillsboro Lake and saw nothing to be gained by retracing the extremely steep 1/4 mile or so that would put us on the ridgeline.This trail has limited viewscapes but it does takes you through an extensive aspen grove and Hillsboro Lake, in a wet year, is a delightful,unique spot in the dry Black Range. This trail has quite a bit of variety, which is why it ultimately won me over,but it is a challenge.IMPORTANT UPDATE: this  wonderful hike was within the Silver Fire burn(June,2013). Conditions are likely to be vastly altered especially close to the ridgeline.

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