Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Rosedale,Potato Canyon- Cibola National Forest

On a spring break camping trip, I think it was in '03 or '04, we had a malfunctioning camp stove. We packed up our camp on Circle Seven Creek and headed north on NM 52. This state highway is not paved past NM 59 about 10 miles north of Winston.  Much of the 50 or so miles to Magdalena has the the dreaded " washboard" surface you hear so much about. No luck in getting a stove  in Magdalena, so we headed toward Socorro. On the way we looked at the Water Canyon Campground which is on the northeast side of the Magdalena Mountains, and the only designated campground in the range. The canyon is beautiful, but the campground is the old timey, meet your neighbor, paved parking lot,  walk-in type set up that we go to lengths to avoid. So we went on to Socorro and bought a little propane stove.
   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.

1 comment:

Barney (The Old Fat Man) said...

I was just up in this area a few days ago. My truck does not like going as far into the woods as your vehicle. I stopped at the chimney. More reading is needed of your blog since I started reading today. Have fun, I am.