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.