We met some folks on the way back.Talked for a little while. They told some tales of mule excursions into the most rugged areas of the Black Range on the Animas Divide Trail,East Curtis Canyon, the crossover trail from the North Percha, as well as the upper reaches of the Mineral Creek trail. Just the kind of thing that gets my imagination going for future excursions. It also gets my frustration going at not living closer to the mountains going as well( sigh). Oh well,everything I've heard or read about these places makes them sound unpalatable even for the most seasoned backpacker( If you don't believe me, check out Hiking the Aldo Leopold Wilderness by Polly and Roy Cunningham). I've actually hiked trails like Water Canyon and several others which are still "official" trails in the Black Range, as well as quite a few unofficial ones that provided a little more adventure than was necessary in the way of washouts,brush,downed trees,rockslides and absent tread( sour grapes now concluded).
They also told of some caves. One is on North Percha, which they gave me some directions to, although,I probably need someone to point it out on the map. The other, they said, is on Mineral Creek,but they didn't know where.There are many intriguing holes and alcoves including one very large one in the cliffs just below the ridge with the natural arch on top. I've also heard of Robinson's Cave, Mad Hornet Cave and Coffee Cave, which are all supposedly in the Black Range,but I don't know where.Also in the Black Range on the west side is the cave at the Royal John Mine, located at the head of Cold Spring Canyon( not 100% sure on the location, I have not visited there). This cave has a small pond inside it. Artifacts recovered many years ago suggested that it had a ceremonial purpose to the Mimbres Mogollon people who lived in the valley.There are two small caves in the Bishop Cap area,one high up on the west face of Bishop Cap proper. . Anyone with information about these caves or their experiences on the above mentioned abandoned trails,please comment.