Monday, November 15, 2010

Cow Creek- Gila National Forest still continued

Quickly enough I saw trout,and not particularly small ones either,given the very tiny stature of this stream. The water was low. It's been a dry, warm fall. The oasis like creek bottom still had a bit of summer left in it: green grass and the streamside alders still leafy and green. I hobbled along downstream casting into the deepest pools.Unfortunately, the fish were only in these pools, and they were clear and still as glass. I've seen this before on other small streams during the fall and spring dry outs. The fish will not venture out of the deepest water. The approaches made me feel like some clumsy giant along a Lilliputian river. Somehow I managed a few hook-ups,and finally a healthy 8 or 9 inch trout. It looked much like the hybrids I've caught in Sapillo Creek: mostly like a rainbow,but with some Gila trout showing through. I didn't get very far when I realized I needed to pack out.I had fished for 2 hours that went by like 10 minutes. I had a long hike ahead and an even longer drive back to Las Cruces. I knew I couldn't go back up the ravine I'd come down( there were several pour offs that would be very difficult to climb up and around). Luckily, I found a deer path that led up the grassy ridge. It was steep, but I made great progress initially. As I looked back on the dry,dry juniper studded hillsides on one of my many air breaks, it seemed hard to believe that any kind of permanent stream exists in this corner of the Gila, let alone one with a trout population. That's what made Cow Creek a magical place. Despite the difficulty, I couldn't definitely say that I would never go back.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Cow Creek-Gila National Forest continued

At least I remembered to bring a second pair of boots,knowing that the first pair would be soaked without time to dry for my second day's outing. But it would've been better if I had forgotten. My second pair,grayish green LL Beans that I'd picked up barely used at my mom's thrift store, had only been worn once or twice and not very happily at that. Still, I was wanting to believe I'd made a great deal picking up some 120 dollar boots for almost nothing,and was willing to give them another chance.They felt too tight from the get-go but I didn't want to entertain the idea of just wearing my liner socks without my thicker hiking socks(although that's eventually what I had to do) because I was worried about blisters. I didn't remove my liner socks either,which would've helped. I just thought they would stretch as I went on. Down I went on the Sheep Corral trail until I reached the junction with the Snow Canyon trail,where I continued east and uphill. I turned northeast on a old road on the mesa top. When the road ran out I quickly decided to get down into the rocky,but relatively open arroyo,rather than slog it out in the brush. Mistake. Now as I stumbled,hopped and stomped down the dry streambed the pain in my toes began,then increased,and then increased some more to the point where I was in moaning,swearing,nearly in tears agony with almost every step. But I wouldn't stop to rest or evaluate and attempt to fix my situation. " I'll stop when I get to the water" I thought. When I did reach the water I took off my boots,but not my socks. I didn't want to see how bad it was. I didn't need to. I could feel it.

Monday, November 8, 2010

Cow Creek-Gila National Forest

The first time I tried to venture down into Cow Creek, a small trout holding tributary to Sapillo Creek, I hadn't lived here very long and in naivete thought I could amble down one of the dry branches from FR 282( Sheep Corral Road) until I saw water and fish. I actually started out one fall morning too, stumbling steeply down into a dark pine forest,hoping to pick up some kind of trail. But then the clouds rolled in and the thunder started. The temperature dropped and I thought better of the whole idea and drove to Sapillo Creek, where I'd never fished, caught a couple of nice rainbows in the sunshine and found a mainstay of Fall fishing for the next 10 years. Now,why I would have picked Cow Creek, because truthfully most people wouldn't, first over a more obvious,accessible destination like Sapillo Creek, has everything to do with Rex Johnson Jr. and his book Fly Fishing Southern New Mexico. More on that later. Suffice it to say I put Cow Creek way on the back burner and I thought that only if I was ever camping nearby or staying in Silver City would attempting it even be feasible. No matter how I looked at it on the maps it was a 8 to 10 mile round trip hike just to access the stream for a few hours and that wouldn't be counting any miles hiking along while I was fishing. Well the opportunity arrived last week. This time I was prepared with waypoints downloaded from topo map software onto my GPS, a hearty breakfast from the Econolodge in Silver City and blissful ignorance of the exact nature of the terrain of the cross country segment of my hike. The Sheep Corral Road was crappier than I remember and I kept waiting for the low tire light,but luckily it never came on. I parked and headed down the trail. It was still pretty dark in the narrow section of Sheep Corral Canyon even at eight o'clock,which gave it a forbidding feeling. I saw bear scat and perhaps lion or coyote scat which also added to my anxiety as I pressed jauntily on. But it was not bears or wolves or mountain lions that I needed to fear. It was my boots. More to come.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

West Fork Gila River- Gila Wilderness

I fished the West Fork of the Gila River,from the Cliff Dwellings bridge to about three or so miles upstream(just past the small alcove ruin on the south side of the stream).The West Fork may be better further upstream,but in the lower reaches I've had much better luck on the Middle Fork. Much of this section of the West Fork is wide and shallow and appears to be prone to frequent changes of course as evidenced by the many abandoned gravel and cobble channels along both sides of the river. Also, there are many beaver dams now in this section that have formed shallow silty ponds, which are not being frequented by fish of any kind as far as I could see.In the still pools at the bends, there were large suckers. It's always a bit startling to see these fish and think for a second that they're trout. Speaking of startling, I did startle a large bull elk who was relaxing on a sandy bank in the middle of day. I also saw deer, ducks, and javelinas, and of course once I was a couple of miles in, the scenery is spectacular.The numbers for the day: 3 decent sized rainbows, 1 small brown and one chub. Pretty slow I guess,but I was thinking this was going to be about the one that got away after I hooked, but lost what I was sure was a good sized brown on my way back downstream. Happily, within about 5 minutes I caught my best rainbow and began to think maybe the one that got away was a chub after all.

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Black Canyon Revisited-Gila National Forest

I went back to Black Canyon. The trail situation is still a little murky.The fence is cut now where it enters private property, and the gate is open on the other end where it exits. The "alternate" trails that went up the hillside don't appear used anymore, and yet there is nothing positively indicating,by way of sign, that this is indeed the right course of action(crossing the private section). It probably takes all of 2 minutes or less to cross and re-enter Forest Service land, and yet I'm watching the house,which appears now to be occupied as indicated by the smoke emitting from the chimney, and feeling a bit anxious as I imagine some potential confrontation for that entire 120 seconds. But onto better things. It was cold and very damp still at ten when I arrived. The water was low and the stream bed heavily silted with, I assume, ash from last years Aspen fire. The fish were still there,perhaps a little harder to catch, a dozen or so,all Gilas from about 7 to 10 inches , with one a bit larger and one a bit smaller.The amount of silt stirred up on each release was a bit disturbing. Only sporadic sunshine throughout the day kept it from ever getting warm , which was good and bad. The fall color was at its peak in the canyon with boxelder, oak, grapevine, willow, cottonwood and even a few aspens providing the display. The Gila trout seemed a little duller colored, but still wonderfully willing to take old fashioned dries.This stream is still too open and too wide for it's own good in the lower reaches above the road. I walked about four miles in to perhaps a mile below the confluence with Aspen Canyon, but I'd really like to backpack in and see what the fishing is like further upstream.

Forest Road 150,Gila National Forest

Forest Road 150, the North Star Mesa Road is in better shape than I've ever seen it.The section through Rocky Canyon( the worst segment) has been plowed of rocks and the surface leveled.Road work is on going, and the worst section right now is up on the Meason Flat( the mesa between Rocky and Black Canyons) where the crew is working putting in culverts. This part was pretty muddy after the previous night's rain(Oct.21),but still easily passable. I drove as far as Black Canyon in my 2 wheel drive,not particularly high clearance pick-up and was fine. It will still take 50 -70 minutes to drive to Black Canyon from the paved NM 35 depending on your vehicle and your degree of caution.Beyond Black Canyon I don't know what the conditions are. NOTE:The crews are working Monday through Thursday right now, and you could encounter a long delay during daylight hours.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Horse Mountain Wilderness Study Area

On our third day we decided to check out the BLM's Horse Mountain Wilderness Study Area. The mountain seems to be really three separate peaks of nearly equal elevation, rising very steeply from the plains of San Agustin about 25 miles southwest of Datil. The turnoff is at the remains of the town of Horse Springs. There are many rugged canyons and lesser summits radiating out from the central high points in a roughly circular pattern. The middle mountaintop is named Horse Peak. The others are nameless.The only "trail" in the range is an old east-west running road.The eastern entrance appears to be blocked by private property. We started on the west side where the BLM has a sign. The road follows a dry stream the entire way until it reaches a large ponderosa pine "park" at a saddle.From there it continues east down another dry stream. We walked down a little ways,but decided we didn't want an uphill both ways hike, and returned to the grassy saddle to enjoy distant views of the Sawtooths and close views of the three high peaks. Since this trail is on the north side of the mountain it had much more diverse vegetation than we'd been seeing,including Douglas Fir and Gambel Oak which had already started to change color. I even spied a few aspen high on a cliff face. We saw fresh bear scat,mountain lion scat, a huge bull elk, several deer and flocks of jays.This is a wild and beautiful place and was the highlight hike of this trip.

Sawtooth, Datil and Crosby Mountains -Cibola National Forest

Out second day out I wanted to explore the western arm of the Sawtooth Range. Here there several detached mountains with rounded peaks, unremarkable if it weren't for the myriad of erosional forms sculpted in their volcanic tuff. Pinnacles,towers,fins and hoodoos all occur in the bare tan and pink cliffs. We drove down Forest Road 6A this time, and turned off at FR 325 heading east and parked just north of Monument Rock at a fork in the road. Choosing the left fork we hiked toward an amazing tower that must be at least 500 feet high. Later we drove west from FR 6A on very primitive road that took us closer to Castle Dome, Lone Mountain and other formations. It was already pretty warm and we decided that further hiking in this open terrain would be down right hot,so we picnicked under some pinon trees and then headed out to Pie Town.Our last day I wanted to do a drive on Forest Road 66 which connects Highways 25 and 60 and would have made an nice loop through the forest. On the west side the road initially goes through some subdivisions and then enters the forest with great views of the very steep Anderson and East Sugarloaf Peaks,which are part of the Crosby Mountains.Unfortunately the road is blocked by a gate just a few miles in. From the east side , the same road becomes very rough and uninviting after only a mile or so.

Datil and Pie Town

Datil has a gas station/grocery/restaurant.There was a vegetable stand outside when we visited. The meat case had some great looking T- Bones,but they don't cut steaks on Sunday.There's another restaurant further east. On  US 60 north of town there is the Baldwin Cabin public library- and unusual amenity for such a tiny town. Pie Town has the Pie-O-Neer restaurant and the Daily Pie Cafe. We enjoyed a piece of of chocolate cream and and piece of blueberry a la mode on the porch of the Pie-O-Neer on a Saturday.The latter day hippie clientele and ambiance of this spot is in marked contrast to the prevailing cowboy culture of the region.

Ox Spring, Hay Canyons-Cibola National Forest

Our first day out I had intended to explore Thompson Canyon,known for it's rock climbing area, and maybe climb Madre Mountain, the tallest and only named peak in the Datil Range. Unfortunately, the entrance is on private land and when we drove to the locked gate,the message seemed to be keep out. Since there was no one home at the nearby ranch house, we headed out for other options. I later learned that the gate may have been just dummy locked,but that it was still necessary to make arrangements with the land owners. We drove on Forest Road 6 first to the turn off for the Davenport lookout. That road, at least on the map, appeared to be a backway into Thompson Canyon. On the ground though,it didn't look like a good option. We continued on FR 6 over Monument Saddle down into Ox Spring Canyon. We parked and hiked to a clearing which had beautiful views of the sheer cliffs on the north side of Madre Mountain and the Sawtooths.Later, we backtracked on FR 6 to Hay Canyon and did and pleasant but,unremarkable hike down its road without seeing another soul.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Datil Well Campground

This is very nice BLM campground a few miles outside of the small town of Datil.It has a campground host,pit toilets, water from hand pumps and five dollar fee. The sites are well wooded with pinon and juniper, and spacious. On our visit,there were never more than five of the twenty-two spaces occupied. We used it as our base to explore the Datil, Crosby and Sawtooth Mountains of the Cibola National Forest and the BLM's Horse Mountain Wilderness Study Area. An easy three mile loop trail that starts in the campground took us to several nice viewpoints of the San Agustin Plains and the Crosby Mountains.We discovered many potential dispersed sites nearby,but since our camper is very small( no bathroom,limited water storage), we couldn't really beat this place for convenience.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Confessions of a Fly Fisher

I've never seen my backing since I tied it on.
I've never fished a 2 fly set-up.
I tie flies because it's part of the sport,but I rarely enjoy it. My tying table is an old desk and it's absolute mess when I'm tying flies.I'm constantly searching for whatever tool or material that I need, instead of actually tying the fly. I'm not sure why this is because I don't tolerate a lot of chaos in other aspects of my life.
Rather than the Zen-like experience I perhaps yearn for, many of my days on the water are a comedy of frustration infused incompetence.
I hate tying on tippet.
Much of the time I omit the final loop threading on my improved clinch knot; it still holds 99% of the time with the size of fish I'm catching.
I'm not always diligent about making sure my clipped ends end up in my backpack.
I've never really successfully fished a hatch of any sort, and I've only witnessed ,maybe, three or four hatches where fish were actively feeding.
I've only fished with a friend once. I have 2 Redington rods and reels. 2 no-name fiberglass rods from the seventies,and my original fly/spin combo from Academy,plus two Shakespeare 1094 reels. I got a fly vest at a junk shop.
All, all of my fishing junk probably cost less than 800 dollars.
I've only used my waders twice. I can't tie a whip finish, lord knows how I've tried,but I can't. I've used a strike indicator once, I mean for one cast. The second cast,it came off and that was that. I have a nice net, but I've never used it.Most of my fishing trips involve a lot of hiking, and I already feel like a Yankee Peddler with all the junk I've got on my back, so the net stays home. Rarely have I felt that it would have been an asset. I like fly fishing, but I'm not trout addicted. Sometimes, I long for the slow moving sandy bottomed Texas creek,where I started using a fly rod, catching bluegill all day- but hoping for, and sometimes getting a jolt from a largemouth. I've never been guided and probably never will be,unless I win a guided trip in a raffle. Sometimes I count those self releases and quick releases. I'm so worried about others getting the perception that I'm exaggerating that I tend to underestimate the size of fish when I tell a tale. Sometimes after 5 or sometimes after 10, I stop counting,but I've had many less than 5 fish days. I've had a few 20 plus days too. At the beginning of a new year, I look in my fly box and usually find several flies that I tied so poorly I can't believe I left them in there. I know I didn't use them. I guess they're absolute emergency flies. I'm very self conscious about my casting technique( which may explain some of these other confessions) because I usually fish such small streams where there's not much opportunity to really cast. Still I like to air it out once in awhile in a slightly bigger stream( as long as no one is watching). I'll add more as they come to me. NOTE: Fellow flyfishers this is not a cry for help. I'm pretty happy with how I've arrived to where I am with only the help of a few books and few conversations.If you have any of your confessions, feel free to litter the comment box, I'd love to hear them.Photo is an Apache Trout caught in KP Creek in Arizona.

Monday, September 27, 2010

South Fork Bonito Creek-Lincoln National Forest

Mark Twain's comment about golf, " a good walk - spoiled" could easily be modified to fly fishing a small stream," a good walk- completely and utterly destroyed." That's how I felt at least for the first 45 minutes or so when I fished the South Fork of the Rio Bonito on Sunday. Snags,snares,the consequent reties, and guppy sized fish all seemed determined to derail the good feelings from discovering the usually crowded campground closed for the season and the stream delightfully devoid of people.The situation improved,but not before some whining, swearing and even begging to the trout gods for some relief. I did end up catching some better fish, a couple of good sized rainbows and several decent brookies( in addition to the usual dozen or so 5 inchers). I've noticed lower down,the rainbows are the typical darkish blue color and have that dull appearance of stockers. Upstream,though, they are bright and brassy with larger spots and pale pink cutthroat markings, making me believe they have at least some degree of Rio Grande Cutthroat genes in them. Fewer in number and larger in size they are the definite prize here.It turned out to be to be an okay day on the South Fork. They are still plenty of fish here. The increase of algae growth has me a little worried,but on the whole the stream and fish seem to be in pretty good shape.For me,for now though, I feel like taking a break from the tiny creeks, the bushwacking,boulder hopping,the fly hungry trees,the finger sized fish,the steep banks,the kneeling casts,the stinging nettle and thistle. . .Well, maybe for a trip or two,I can't really stay away, these are my home streams.IMPORTANT UPDATE: this stream is mostly likely devoid of fish due to due the Little Bear fire and subsequent ash flows. ( Summer,2012).

Monday, September 20, 2010

Railroad Canyon/Gallinas Canyon( FT 128, FT 129)-Gila National Forest

Something strange comes over you looking down the Holden Prong trail. A narrow path disappearing in the darkness of a dense aspen grove beckons you onward,even when you know you can't go. Even though I've been down in there, its mystery is still strong and as I linger at the Holden Prong saddle, a small,flat grassy clearing along the Crest trail, I think about when I can get back down into that narrow canyon hidden in a crease of my beloved Black Range.
     We came up the Railroad Canyon trail,the classic introductory hike to these mountains. It starts at the Railroad Canyon picnic area passing by a quarry area that must have been used during the building of NM 152. It follows the usually flowing Gallinas Creek crossing it many,many times. This time of year the wildflowers were everywhere, and the creek low enough to rock hop and keep your boots dry.Oak,pine, fir,black walnut and an occasional narrow leaf cottonwood make up the forest along the stream bottom.Wild strawberry is abundant underfoot, and as you go up there is poison ivy trail side so be careful.Pay no mind to the distances posted on the trail signs,which not only underestimate the distance,but also seem to conflict with each other, the hike to the top is a little over 4 miles. It's a mostly gradual climb until reaching the junction with the East Railroad Canyon trail,from there it really starts to climb in earnest culminating in several switchbacks that finally allow some nice views back down the canyon and beyond to the peaks to the south. From there the gradient lessens passing through a mature aspen grove and then on up through the gambel oak to the crest. Along the way there are two alternate hikes. First is the Gallinas trail which is very steep initially,but eventually levels out to follow the stream in a canyon that is larger,more open and prettier than Railroad. The gradient is significantly less as it take an extra mile to reach the crest at Sid's Prong saddle. Stands of aspen and open meadows near the top of this hike make it especially scenic in the fall.East Railroad Canyon is much more narrow and steep and has distinctly closed in feel to it. It also has more lush growth of poison ivy which makes it a less attractive alternative. It eventually ends up at the Hillsboro Peak bypass trail. Both these trails can be used to do lollipop type loop hikes.If you're new to Las Cruces and looking for place to get started in the regions many forest hiking opportunities, this area is a great way to go.IMPORTANT UPDATE: Sadly, these areas  were within the Silver Fire  burn area. Conditions may be vastly different from what is pictured and described here(June, 2014).

Friday, August 13, 2010

Rio Ruidoso

  I fished the Ruidoso River in town for the first time. I had fished the section on the reservation a few years back, catching some small browns and a couple of nice rainbows,before the rains came. Now that part of the stream is closed to fishing and camping since the flood in 2008. At first I took a look at Carrizo Creek,but it really looked too small to fish.Well, maybe not too small,because I've fished some very small streams, it's just so hedged in with willows along much of its course that it seemed to be defying the notion of fly fishing. Also, there didn't seem like there was anywhere to park until you got to the motel just inside the reservation boundary. It was definitely not crowded but I wasn't sure how they'd feel about me leaving my car there.The stream may be more fishable on the reservation,but I figured I would have to get a permit to fish there. I guess I could have found out the answers to both of these questions, but all these little inconveniences are why I usually fish in wilderness areas.
     I then headed across Sudderth, parked at Two Rivers Park and proceeded downstream,hooking a couple of fish almost immediately while folks sat in their lawn chairs watching me.The Ruidoso is relatively large compared to the other streams in this region, and even though this section is completely canopied over, there was ample room for conventional casting. It was quiet and shady, and once past those initial spectators, I was very much by myself in a strange little bit of semi-wilderness in this busy tourist town. It began to rain around noon as it always does this time of year. I walked on mile or so,continuing a ways past the Paradise Canyon Bridge, always wondering if some homeowner was going to come out and yell at me. None did. I caught five or six fish on the way down and one more on the way back. All were rainbows( I was hoping for at least one brown), all caught on dries. I tried a beadhead nymph in some of deep murky pools,but to no avail.A couple of the fish didn't have the dull look of stockers, but were quite bright and colorful, resembling cuttbows that I have caught over at the nearby South Fork of the Rio Bonito. I don't know their origin unless they've spilled out of Mescalero Lake and into tributary Carrizo Creek.
    After lunching at a picnic table, I tried fishing upstream from the parking area for about a mile, but without even a bite.The rain, which had stopped mercifully quickly the first time, started again around three, as it frequently does this time of year. I called it day. If you're already staying in Ruidoso or don't want to hit the shops with the rest of the group,this could a pleasant few hours diversion, but I certainly would not go out of my way to do it again.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Eagle Creek(North Fork)-Lincoln National Forest

I slipped in 3 hours of fishing between thunderstorms on Thursday. I had first thought I'd go to the section of the Ruidoso River on the reservation,but it was closed just like last summer. I don't know what the story is there. I then tried to find a public access point in Ruidoso Downs, that someone had told me about,but I really didn't see anything that looked like it didn't require crossing private property. I then thought about ol' reliable, the South Fork of the Rio Bonito,but I've been there so many times, and I wanted something a little different, so I headed out for Eagle Creek,not knowing exactly what I'd find.
   The rain started coming down, so I took an early lunch in the truck. After eating, I started hiking down the road. I could see blue sky ahead, so I was hoping to walk out from under the drops,which I did. I walked along the trail and quickly saw a nice pool below where a spring was pouring into the creek. Climbing down creekside, I rigged up and promptly caught a nice brookie on my first cast. I caught a dozen or so more on a single dry fly. Most came from the deeper pools,but I caught couple of bigger ones in the deepest riffles. Smallest fish of the day: 5 inches. Largest: 10 or 11 inches.
    Past the first creek crossing of the trail(about 1/4 mile from the trailhead) there is a higher waterfall. Above here the stream gets really small and closed in with vegetation. I tried some the holes up there,but there didn't appear to be any fish. On the way back down it started raining again just I was changing flies for the first time. It really started coming down,so I tried one last pool,caught one of my best fish of the day,and then called it quits.
    If you go, you have to park at the gate on Forest Road 127a and hike to the trailhead. There may be fish in this lower part of the stream( I saw a few at the first road crossing), as well as further down all the way to the weir along the paved road to the ski area, but the section past the gate has many sections of private property,so keep your distance from cabin doors and back porches.IMPORTANT UPDATE: Eagle Creek may fishless at present due to flooding in the aftermath of the Big Bear Fire( June, 2013).Update 2016- I was informed that the brookies survived and are there at present in Eagle Creek.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Rio de las Vacas-Santa Fe National Forest

We camped at the Rio de las Vacas campground in the Santa Fe National Forest. This is a very nice semi-developed site(no hookups,water from a hand pump). Considering it has paved access, I was expecting to see more people.I'm not complaining. We had the place mostly to ourselves for the better part of 3 days. By Friday morning,it was about half full,plus a few more sites being obviously held( in direct opposition to Forest Service policy).Nearby Clear Creek Campground(equally nice) appeared to have only 2 spots occupied. It could be the $10 fee at these campgrounds discourages a lot of folks. Maybe that's why there was a lot of dispersed camping going on along nearby FR 70. But these sites seemed less attractive than the campground. It could also be that the Jemez River,Seven Springs, Fenton Lake recreation areas further east catches most of the crowds from the big city.
    We did two hikes into the beautiful San Pedro Parks Wilderness. Both hikes were pretty short. We had our 4 month old Scottie puppy with us and knew we'd end up carrying him if we tried for longer distances.One hike was to the meadows of the Rito de las Perchas where I had a nice foot long cutthroat spit out my fly twice. I only saw one other fish. I can usually can tell if there's more by the ones I send scurrying on my approach. I even tossed a rock in a few holes after I was done casting- nothing. I caught a few small browns in the Rio de las Vacas campground and in the section directly above the campground. There are some better fish in here though. I know because I hooked and lost two of them our first day there. After that it was only 5-8 inchers that went for my fly. The section above the campground is very narrow, and rough with many fallen trees that make casting difficult. In retrospect it didn't seem worth the effort for a few small fish. Still,it was fun to cast line a few steps from my campsite with at least the potential for catching something- a rarity here in Southern New Mexico,where easily accessible stream fishing opportunities are limited. I'd like to return to fish this stream either below the campground or in the wilderness area.
   Our second hike was to San Gregorio Reservoir, which is only about 3 miles ,including a walk around the lake. We saw a few people on the trail, but we had the lake to ourselves when we got there. This was weekday however, and I wouldn't expect the same  on the warm weather weekends. This is a beautiful area that I would love to explore  more fully,if  only I lived  a bit closer.

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Three Rivers Revisited-Lincoln National Forest

When I last visited Three Rivers in September 2008 (2 months after the devasting flood), I saw no fish in the stream.Since that time I had heard from 3 different sources that there were still a few brookies left. On Wednesday I returned with a vague intention to fish. Well, I now can confirm they are there ,but it is definitely not a fishable population at this time. I saw about seven or eight small,but plump ones in one clear green pool, and I expect there are a few scattered in similar pools throughout the first 3 miles of stream above the campground, at least one can hope that's true. Restocking may be needed if the fish are no longer above a series of waterfalls about 2 miles in,but I'm just glad to see them,somehow surviving a disastrous flood followed by a year of extreme drought.With the notion of fishing pushed aside, I decided to hike on. I suppose the idea of reaching the crest was there all along, but I really didn't commit to doing it until I was switchbacking high on grassy hillsides almost to the top.This was my third time up on the always magnificent ridgeline of the White Mountains Wilderness, and it was surely the hardest won. It took about 5 hours to get there: six miles of hiking with approximately 3,500 feet of elevation gain. On the return,my feet were like raw meat and the increasing heat as I decreased in elevation was exhausting.Trail 44 is not in the greatest condition either. There are numerous log falls ranging from the tiny to the enormous.So there was quite a bit of the over,under,around or through. There are few confusing washouts as well. Most of the crossings were easy to find and negotiate without soaking your feet,but several times I had to go either upstream or downstream to find something more manageable.