Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Three Rivers,Bonito Creek-White Mountain Wilderness, Lincoln National Forest


It looks like Three Rivers Creek and the main Bonito Creek( above the lake) are no longer viable fishing streams. The damage done by last summer's flooding has left them with either very few or no fish and ridiculously wide channels that are stripped to the bare gravel and boulders. I visited Three Rivers last fall, and the Bonito earlier this week. The campground host at Three Rivers said there may be a few brookies left, but now after a very dry winter and spring it seems unlikely,but I will check. He also told me that the stream might be re-stocked with rainbows at some point. We'll see. Bonito looks like a gravel desert wash( similar to Percha Creek directly above Hillsboro) . It's only running above ground in a few spots, and then it's just a few inches of water. The South Fork of the Bonito still has a few fish. It's pretty mucky with silt and algae right now, but it certainly is the least altered of the three.Three Rivers had so many trees uprooted as the soil was washed away that much of the lower stream is now exposed to the afternoon sun-not good for water temperatures or trout. I saw many people along Bonito, those that I chatted with, I told what a nice little fishing stream it used to be. Maybe it will be once again but it's going to be awhile.

Red House Mountain


Redhouse Mountain high point



west view from the summit

There's something disconcerting about being alone on a summit when the wind is blowing 60 miles an hour. It doesn't matter that the peak is not particularly high( which it isn't). It doesn't matter that the summit is relatively flat with plenty of room to move about ( which it was). It doesn't matter that it was a rather warm early spring( technically still winter) day. It just feels strange to do things alone anyway sometimes, but with the wind blowing like that- it starts to feel wrong.We're sort of used to the wind here. I mean we're not surprised by it. We do avoid it. When I began my hike down the old mine road, it was sunny, warm and a little breezy.Down in the narrow crack of a canyon , there was almost no wind at all. But I once I started side-hilling to gain some elevation, I realized it was blowing a steady gale. I got one more reprieve down in a juniper grove tucked into an east facing arroyo, but once I gained the wide ridge line there was no escaping the deafening wind, that I reasonably estimate was blowing a steady 35-40 mph and gusting frequently in the 50-60 mph range. I knew I wouldn't get blown off the mountain, but like I said it just feels wrong to be on these bare desert hilltops in all that wind.  I didn't linger on the rounded bump of a summit. I tried to take a refuge among rocks on the nearby slightly slower summit to south but to little avail. I powered through wind until I was down in the narrow canyon. Redhouse Mountain is the high point of the southern part of the Caballo Mountains. This section is more of a jumble of limestone hills and ridges, very different from the massive , singular flat-topped ridge that runs parallel to Caballo Lake. It's a fairly quick off-trail climb, just try not to do it in the wind.

Goodsight Peak, Rough and Ready Hills

Rough and Ready trail, Organs in the distance





On top of Goodsight, Black Range in the distance, Nutt Mountain on the  right






Cookes Peak
 On top of Goodsight, looking southeast

Rough and Ready cliffs

Goodsight Peak on the left
I climbed Goodsight Peak(5,600') and the unnamed high point(5,400') of the Rough and Ready Hills in the Spring.Both peaks are in the expansive landscape of grass lands and volcanic hills that lie between Deming and Las Cruces. Goodsight Peak has no trail,but I started off on a high point of the road that parallels the old Butterfield Stage Route( get a topo map) and headed mostly due north. I stayed on the ridge, to not lose  elevation,but eventually a cliff had circumnavigated just before the large saddle at the base of the peak.The last half mile or so just below the peak is very rough and steep.There is a sign in jar in a cairn on the western edge of the large flat-topped "peak."  I took in the views all around: to the Uvas Mountains, Cookes Peak, the Rough and Readies and Sleeping Ladies, Nutt Mountain and on to the Black Range. It's a " big country " out here like they say in the movies. I took a different route through some arroyos on the way back. The country is totally open so there are lots of possibilities. It is almost entirely BLM land out here,once you turn west out of the Uvas Valley farming area. There are scattered veins of carnelian looking agate throughout this area. Just look down, you'll probably see some. I lost a jacket on the way back. I returned the next day to retrace my steps to hopefully find,but was unsuccessful. I did find more carnelian though, and an intact Pearl Beer bottle that was about 50 years old.
    The Rough and Readies are closer to Las Cruces and accessed by the Corralitos Road. I parked and started out on a crest of a hill where there are roads( private) branching off both sides.I went cross country around the base of the cliffs on the south side up to saddle where I discovered a rock climbers trail coming in from the north. The trail leads to the base of cliffs,though, not to the peak. I then cutback to the south west to the peak. I returned on the trail and met a couple of rock climbers I had seen on the cliffs earlier. It was a nice afternoon getaway, a short drive from my house.

Gila River- Gila Wilderness


I fished the Gila River back in May,before the water level went way down. I started out at Grapevine Campground and made my way about 1.5 miles downstream. Caught 2 decent rainbows, both in the current, and a small smallmouth among some in stream boulders. Not the greatest day,but it is nice to fish a bigger stream once in awhile. I found the hot spring on the way back and got in for a little bit. Didn't see anyone all day, although there were a bunch of trucks in the parking area- folks must have been further downstream. It was nice just to be there- the lazy river, the open canyon with plenty of sky. There were some clouds and a very few raindrops- but that just kept the sun from being too hot. A few more fish and it would have been perfect.

Wolf Hollow-Gila National Forest

Wolf Hollow
Gilita  Creek
CDT Trail near Pelona Mountain
We camped at Wolf Hollow on the northern edge of the Gila Wilderness. It was July and very hot even at nearly 8000 feet above sea level. The Gila was still crispy dry and several fires were visible as we drove around the area. One fire started in the nearby Black Range when some thunderstorms with only a token amount of moisture passed through the area the second night we were there. We drove over to Snow Lake and hiked down to the Gilita Creek/ Middle Fork confluence. I did a little luckless fishing. A trail crew was working on the Gilita trail,which struck me as odd because that trail is already like a 4 lane interstate compared to most of the trails in the Black Range ( where I usually hike). Second day we went out looking for the CDT trailhead at Pelona Mountain.Found it, but didn't hike it. It was still too hot. We hiked down to the main road each night and always saw elk on the return. Heard coyotes very close every sunrise and sunset.We had 2 flat tires on the way out.Changed one. The other one luckily only had a slow leak, so we kept filling it with our portable compressor.

Jack's Creek,Nambe Lake, Rio en Medio- Santa Fe National Forest

Rio en Medio( from a fall trip in 2012)
Nambe Lake
Jack's Creek
Cave Creek

We camped in Northern New Mexico twice this summer. In June we went to Jacks Creek, back on the southern edge of the Pecos Wilderness. It was still pretty cold: low sixties in the day, mid thirties at night. Our second day there it rained all day. Up on the peaks, they got several inches of snow. We hiked the Cave Creek trail one day, and the old Winsor Creek trail another. I did some fishing in Jacks Creek, but without much success. I only managed two small cutthroats on two different days. It hardly seemed worth effort to get to the water. If you haven't been, let me warn you, the Jack's Creek Campground is not right on the stream but several hundred feet above it. It's a very steep descent to to get to the creek, and a lung busting hike  back out. It might be better to just walk all the way out to  where the stream meets the road, if you have  someone to pick you up, because there's no parking until you get to the campground.We had fires every night. Played Spades with our friends Edan and Eric. We also ate absolutely gigantic green chile cheeseburgers at Bobcat Bite.All in all, it was a really nice trip.
     In July we stayed at Black Canyon, the first campground on the Ski Basin Road. It's only about seven miles to the plaza in Santa Fe. I'm pretty sure we were closer than my stepson who was staying at a motel on Cerillos Rd., and we were only paying 10 bucks a night. It's a great way to see Santa Fe on the cheap, and the sites are reservable too. Although the main reason for the visit was seeing my stepson and his girlfriend, who were in town, my wife and I also hiked to Nambe Lake and I caught a couple of nice rainbow trout( in the 10- 12 inch range) in the Rio en Medio. I was surprised to find this nice little fishing stream so close to Santa Fe. I had brought my rod really, just in case, not expecting to find any thing. I wasn't seeing any fish,but out of curiosity tossed a stone in a likely looking plunge pool only to see two  bright, beautiful( and decent sized) rainbows scramble about. It's always exciting to find wild trout where you didn't think there would be any. There weren't a lot of fish, but I don't think it sees a lot of anglers either.  I put together my rod and proceeded  to catch and release  3 fish in maybe an hour while just covering a short section of this creek. I'd like to come back and hike the whole thing , fishing as I go.We all visited Bandelier on a hot and humid day. The Rio Frijoles was very low.  I hiked upstream while the rest of  my crew visited the Ceremonial Cave. I had  the fly rod with me ,but all I saw was  a very few fish in the sub- catchable range. As still and low as the water was, I probably couldn't have caught them anyway even if they'd been bigger. On the way back we negotiated the suburban streets of White Rock until we found the Don Quixote distillery in a unassuming 2 story family home.The tasting was a lot of fun. Another great trip.
Bandelier National Monument

Friday, April 24, 2009

Fishing Alone- Sapillo Creek, Gila National Forest



Fishing alone. I always fish alone. I didn't grow up fishing. No outings with friends, or brothers or dad or grandpa.When I started fishing,it wasn't necessarily my intention,but now it has become a habit.Recently, I've had some opportunities to to break the solo angling barrier,but I just didn't follow through with it. There are advantages and disadvantages to fishing alone.The first would seem obvious-you're not sharing the stream or fish with anyone. Since I fish at times and places that no one else does( I have seen a total of 5 other anglers in a dozen years of fishing), I 've begun take those advantages for granted.But on Sapillo Creek a couple of weeks ago , I felt the rare pang of a disadvantage. I had hooked , landed and released a huge Gila trout( easily over 16 inches and a couple of pounds), and I realized I wish someone else had been there to witness,share and just laugh over this extraordinary bit of circumstance.Sharing it after the fact would not be the same at all. Perhaps that's why so many want to write about their fishing experiences- to relive with others those nearly transcendental moments. We have to convince someone, and perhaps ourselves that it indeed did happen.