Sunday, May 6, 2012

Turkey Run,Diamond Creek- Gila National Forest

Turkey Run

Trail 42 above Diamond Creek

Diamond Creek

Trail 42, Diamond Peak

Forest Road 500, Turkey Run
    One July, seven or eight years ago we drove out to Gilita Campground. On the way up,we had the unfortunate luck to encounter a large camper coming the other way on the very,very narrow Mogollon Road ( NM 159). Luckily we  were on the inside "lane" and were able to back up to a slightly wider spot on a bend of the road. As it was, the other vehicle's large fixed side mirror cleared my own by about 1 inch. We arrived at Gilita in drizzly,humid weather only to realize we'd forgotten the bag of tent poles. After concluding that improvising with various pine branches was not going to work, we did a short hike along the creek and then headed home : this time heading east toward Winston and I-25. We stopped at Wolf Hollow to cook dinner. It was a strange day: eight hours of driving in a huge loop around and through the Gila for a short hike and a picnic. We did see elk, deer, antelope, coyotes and bear in the vast grassland on the north boundary of the Gila Wilderness. Arriving home, we realized our cat had been locked in a closet. Since we had been planning to be gone 5 days, we decided it was all for the best that the tent poles had been left behind.
    Anyway, after a good night's rest,the next day we headed out for  Turkey Run, a small, remote creek that forms the northeast border of the Aldo Leopold Wilderness. It was long drive on increasingly lower standard roads once  we left paved NM 59 at the Lookout Mountain turn-off,but eventually we found a suitable spot and set up camp. In the morning I saw elk along the road. One evening we saw a  mama bear and 2 cubs scamper up a nearby hillside. We hiked up the road with our dogs to the springs that are the headwaters of Turkey Run. Two consecutive days we did the short hike down to Diamond Creek, venturing downstream one day and upstream another.   We relaxed creek side one afternoon, and I fed black flies to the hungry Gila trout in the shallow pools. The summer  monsoon rains had started recently, but the creeks were still very low.  It threatened rain every evening, but never amounted to anything. The deep puddles in the undulating Turkey Run road(FR 500) that we drove through on the way in were all but dry by the time we left. On the way back we took a side trip to Monument Park along Chloride Creek for a picnic. We saw several long abandoned homesteads and I saved a bat from drowning as he flailed away in a metal water tank. It was a good trip, but this area is so remote, it requires a substantial commitment of time, because once you've made the long drive, you'll want to stay a few days to recover before heading out.
Monument Park

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