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.

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