Monday, March 28, 2011

Mineral Creek-Gila National Forest

We hiked Mineral Creek in the Black Range on Sunday, This is the Mineral Creek that crosses FR 157 South, also called the North Percha Road. I say this because there are at least 3 Mineral Creeks in the Gila, two of them in the Black Range. Anyway, we've hiked up here maybe four or five times. It's a pretty little road that's actually in drivable condition,if your vehicle can make it past the first few hundred yards of streambed that are the beginning of the trail. Otherwise,you can walk it like we do. There's also a forest sign just past the crossing which says " Forest Trail" with an arrow pointing to a gully and some brush but certainly not to the trail. It's been such a dry year,there was little water in the creek already. The nice waterfall less than a mile in was just a trickle. The old road eventually forks. One branch goes down to the stream. The other takes you high above to an old mining prospect on the cliff side.You can continue past the mine for a little ways, where you can enjoy the view of the upper valley of the creek. A little farther the " trail" becomes overgrown with mountain mahogany and other brush, and has frequent spots where the loose rock has erupted out of hillside making the going even more difficult. A few years ago I thought I could follow the trail to where it goes back downhill and crosses the stream bed ( above a larger waterfall),but it just got fainter and more brushy,until I reached a large washout and turned around.  If anyone out there can clue me in if this section of the trail exists anymore or has a reasonable alternative for reaching the upper canyon please let me know.
    Another trip I tried to negotiate the boulders and the brush down in the stream, trying to reach the base of the waterfall,but realized it was going to take a lot longer than I estimated, and turned around again. No such adventure on this trip. We simply turned around and walked back enjoying the cloudless skies and perfect temperatures. It was a beautiful spring day,but my anxiety began to rise anyway as I thought about the what it will become of the forest if we don't get some rain soon.IMPORTANT UPDATE: This hike was within the Silver Fire( June,2013).

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