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.

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