Wednesday, August 15, 2012
I'm not sure why I had Rosedale, on the east side of the San Mateos, in mind, other than all ghost towns hold some interest for me. It had been small gold mining settlement that had never really amounted to much. We took FR 330 from NM 107 and set up camp right in the old mining area. There was what appeared to me to be the remains of an old sluice box set up nearby. It was very cold that night, but we got a pretty good fire going. The next morning I lit our catalytic Coleman heater, and tried to get some breakfast started in the 30 degree temperatures.
Later that morning, we packed a picnic and drove over to Potato Canyon, a few miles to the north, accessed by Forest Roads 52 and 56. I had read about this hike in three different guidebooks, so I was more than little dismayed and embarrassed when the lower mile of the trail was replete with bovine fecal matter. I'm not talking about a few cow pies here. The herd had chosen this spot to hunker down for awhile because of the small intermittent stream, and it definitely showed. Besides the abundance of crap,there didn't seem to stitch of green vegetation , except for evergreens, below the level of a cow's reach. All this is not meant to be a diatribe against cattle ranching in the forest. It's just that this place had been touted as an attraction, a highlight, if you will, of the Withington Wilderness which we had entered as soon as the trail began.There are supposed to be interesting rock formations and sometimes waterfalls further upstream. We never made it. It was hot and this place was doing nothing for us so we left. We ended up driving back on FR 330. We went past some old chimneys and foundations near Rosedale and then up,up,up to the top of the mountain. We tried out the 4 wheel drive through a few snowy patches. We also tested our reserve of nerves on some very narrow, very rough sections that had the added attraction of nice views of the several hundred foot plunge our truck would take if we didn't manage to stay on the road. We stopped here and there,but eventually made it to the top.
For some reason, we started down the Hudson Canyon Road (FR 96) but when the snow got pretty deep we thought better of the whole enterprise. It was a little dicey getting the truck out of there,but we did. There are some open meadows at the top that would make perfect camping spots - at a warmer time of year.
We drove back down and headed out for the highway,but not before stopping for dinner on the tailgate of our truck. That's when we were set upon by ever growing herd of cattle who must have thought we were bringing them food, water or kaopectate. The leader was an ornery looking cuss with a six inch piece of cholla stuck to its lip, which made it look even meaner. We packed and cleaned up our stuff in record time and were out of there just in time to have ol' cholla-lip eat our dust. As we headed home we could see that winter was getting in one more blast on the San Mateos and the Black Range.
Monday, August 13, 2012
Friday, August 10, 2012
Thursday, August 9, 2012
I hadn't driven very far, probably just to the end of FR 478, when my wife and I looked at each other and I knew we both thought they weren't going to make it. We turned around, and sure enough about a mile from where we left them they were stopped. The truck had given up on a little hill. We loaded our big dog in the way back of our truck . Put the couple in the back seat. Put the little dog in the front seat and we went on our way back to their ranch house. It wasn't very far, probably only a mile or two, and if they had been younger and and the wife not so obviously infirm, and if it hadn't have been raining and in upper 30's- they might have been able to walk it. At the ranch their many dogs came out to greet us (and our dogs). Their son came out to help them and hear their story.I looked around the property which had many vehicles on it, and I wondered to myself if the old pickup was the best possible choice to make the 50 mile round trip to Winston.Well, it was good that we went back. They didn't have a cell phone. There probably wasn't service out there at that time anyway. They wouldn't have been missed for awhile, it was quite cold and raining, and very,very few people come down that road.There was a huge a rainbow in the sky as we headed for our original destination.
FR 549 is a well maintained road,but as it descends into Bear Trap Canyon it is very narrow. So much so that it gave us pause to the idea of ever bringing the trailer down there, at least via this route. It could be done, but it might be best to station someone at the bottom to make sure no one was trying to come up when you're coming down. The canyon is very scenic with aspens growing among jagged rocks. There are nice places for dispersed camping among the tall pines along the creek bed. Hughes Mill has big oak trees and a couple of camping sites and a vault toilet.
|Hughes Mill Campground|
|Upper Bear Trap Canyon|
Wednesday, August 8, 2012
|On Forest Trail 51|
|Our camp in Pennsylvania Canyon, June,1999|
Tuesday, August 7, 2012
|Springtime Campground, June 1999,|
Only photo I could find from that ill- fated trip.
That night it was almost impossible to sleep in the still air inside our tents. The next day we opted for a drive to kill time during the heat of the day. We drove south on FR 225 first to Luna Park and then on to FR 139 down to Monticello. It's hard to explain what these roads are like. They are more than enough to make flatlanders, city folk, and my mom( who wasn't with us and who has more than small problem with heights) weep. We drove on from Monticello to Cuchillo,buying ice, eating ice cream and looking around the old store( which is no longer there). We must've headed back to the highway making the drive into a big loop.
We were back on FR 225 heading toward our camp when it happened- a flat. This wouldn't have been that big of a deal except for the fact that when we found the hiding place of the jack, we discovered there was no lug wrench. We had just bought the Isuzu Rodeo( used) we were driving a few weeks before and hadn't bothered to check for this essential little piece of equipment, and really who would? Well, I do now, even when buying a new vehicle, I check to see where everything is stored and that everything is there. We ended up using the fix a flat, even though the tire was really too far gone, turned around and began driving to T or C to buy a new tire and a lug wrench. We could tell the tire was running too low, but we were determined to make it anyway. While driving along on NM 85, parallel and within sight of I 25, a man on the interstate, obviously seeing the danger of our extremely low tire, began signalling to us. He met us at the next exit, and with his lug wrench and jack, helped us change the tire. In T or C we had a new tire put on the only slightly bent rim,bought an extra jack and lug wrench and stayed the night at the Los Arcos Motel with it's wrought iron 70's swag decor. We called the Magdalena Ranger to explain that we had left our stuff at the campsite,but weren't there. I'm not sure what we were worried about- no one goes out there anyway. I'm sure he was puzzled too.
The next day we drove out to Springtime packed our stuff and were on our way to the second leg of our trip: Pennsylvania Canyon over in the Lincoln National Forest. We got to pay back the kindness showed to us by that man on the highway within the year when we gave a jumpstart to a couple that we just happened upon, stranded on a side road. They were a long walk from anywhere out on the Rim Road about 10 miles south of High Rolls in the Sacramentos. Other lessons learned: If you're going to camp from May to September in New Mexico either head for the northern half of the state or make sure you're up high, like 8,500 feet and above, or be near some water.
Monday, August 6, 2012
Sunday, August 5, 2012
Thursday, August 2, 2012
Wednesday, August 1, 2012
|Near the intersection of FT 79 and FT146|
|View from the Sawyer's Peak Trail looking northwest|
|North Seco Creek|