Sunday, November 25, 2007

Holy Ghost Creek, Panchuela Creek-Pecos Wilderness

I fished the Pecos Wilderness twice this year. On a very hot June day, I had the the pleasure of fishing the Wilderness section of Holy Ghost Creek all by my lonesome. It was a perfect summer day of fishing. I caught over a dozen eager browns, all on attractor drys. Walking out, I passed a fisherman working the section in the campground and couldn't imagine that he was having the kind of day I just had. I dodged the potholes I hit on the way in, and drove back to Santa Fe all smiles. In November I went to Panchuela Creek and caught nothing. The few actual opportunities I had, I squandered. On the way out, I saw a fisherman coming in from his day on the Pecos. Curious, I quickly turned into the NMDGF parking area only to realize I was practically going over a cliff. I literally bounced my wife's Corolla down to the bottom. I chatted awhile. His day was much better than mine. I then turned to the daunting prospect of getting up the deeply rutted,STEEP entrance. My first attempt succeeded only in burning rubber. I retreated, banished the thought of getting towed out of there, and steeled myself for a second attempt. I carefully looked at my choices and determined that I needed to go to the left, balance on the highpoints of the ruts and somehow get my left front tire onto the grass to the side of the collapsed border between pavement and dirt. By some miracle it worked on the first try. I gave abundant thanks and thought my good fortune in getting out of there was more than adequate repayment for my poor luck on the stream. I checked under the car for any obvious damage and saw nothing. I worried for awhile,but slowly came to realize we had emerged unscathed.
The next day there wasn't time for fishing , so I did a little 4 mile loop hike in the forest near Santa Fe. The trails were practically like highways campared to what I'm used in most parts of Gila. It was nice,but I was about a month late for the fall color.IMPORTANT UPDATE: This areas have been impacted by the Tres Lagunas and Jaroso fires and are currently closed( June,2013).

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

West Red Canyon- Cibola National Forest

I knew I had a cold. I was determined to go camping anyway, and we did. We made the trek to West Red Canyon in the San Mateo Mountains for the Labor Day weekend.We arrived late in the day. I had heard rumors that the Forest Service road had been improved since our last trip here 2 years ago. They were not true.It may have gotten worse. On the that last trip our trailer's interior had endured a serious road testing-and failed. I was not eager to repeat the procedure.But here we were: sun setting and ever hopeful that the 2 steep stream crossings before our old camping spot, had miraculously improved.They hadn't. And with our new relatively fuel efficient,but less powerful truck,just getting up the second one took on the aspect of a 50-50 proposition. Worse yet, our old spot was taken. We continued on through ruts,stones and mud,but luckily found a perfectly acceptable spot in short order. It was the opening of elk bow hunting season, and the holiday weekend, so there were many more people there than you would normally see.Still, it only amounted to four or five camps set-up over the 10 miles or so of canyon road on Cibola National Forest property.We didn't do any strenuous hikes. Just a few rambles along the road or the creek bed. It rained( and hailed we would discover) hard further back in the canyon,but we just had a few intermittent showers at our camp. I did a lot of sneezing and resting; watching chipmunks and bridled titmice in the little oak tree at our camp.The stream bed back in the forest had a phenomenon I had never seen before. Pine debris was piled up like a curb on either side, underneath was was a solid mass of half inch hailstones,insulated from melting in the heat of the day.We had a few more parts shake loose on the way back,but we did scout out a nice camping spot where we could avoid the treacherous crossing altogether.

Sunday, November 4, 2007

Circle Seven Creek, North Seco Creek-Gila National Forest

We got out of Las Cruces early, so we made it to Circle Seven Creek around 4:30. We saw several other camps on the way, and we soon discovered there was another camp about a mile down the Circle Seven Creek side road.This was the first time we had seen any people out here, and we assumed they were all deer hunters.It was a busy weekend by Gila standards,but hardly crowded compared to other areas( the Sacramentos for instance). Boxelder, walnut, oak and the brilliant five leafed ivy provided fall color. On Saturday we hiked up North Seco Creek.There was a large camp set up there as well. The bed was dry where the old road crosses the creek, but there was plenty of water a short ways upstream.We saw deer, including one young one who didn't have the sense to run, but stared at us from about 20 feet for a long time.There were jays, juncos and nuthatches in the trees.Two large groups of turkeys crossed the trail ahead of us. We made it to the Aldo Leopold Wilderness boundary and perhaps a mile or so beyond, our dogs enjoying a shady romp in the country. We could hear rifles in the distance but never saw anyone on the trails.There are some deep pools in the North Seco which put me to wondering about its potential as Rio Grande Cutthroat stream,perhaps using Las Animas transplants.

At night the moon was bright.We saw two helicopters flying low. We decided they had to be headed to nearby Hermosa, an old mining town now serving as the headquarters of the enormous Ted Turner-owned Ladder Ranch.This is a remote, secluded area(despite the seasonal influx) of old ranches and abandoned mines.There is ample room for camping along sections of North Palomas, Circle Seven, and Morgan Creeks.These waterways are usually dry along the roads in the foothills,but often have water upstream in the forest. Be mindful of, and don't camp on any private property inholdings.IMPORTANT UPDATE: Part of the North Seco hike is within the Silver Fire burn area.