Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Rabb Park- Gila National Forest

 I'd been wanting to get to Rabb Park on the west side of the Black Range ever since our unsuccessful attempt at the hike about 5 years ago. It was just too hot that day in July for this mostly open hike in chaparral terrain. We were blessed with a cool( it never got above 60 degrees) overcast day  last Saturday when we woke up after a rainy night at Railroad Canyon campground, so this hike, only short ways down NM 152 seemed like a perfect fit. We hiked down the old road to Noonday Canyon, crossed the flowing creek and followed the road( heading northeast) that follows the creek on it's west side. Soon enough we saw the trail sign for the Rabb Park which takes off to the northwest. The trail is steep and rocky, and in couple places hard to see in this section. When it topped out on the ridge we had great views into Noonday Canyon and of the clouds clinging to the high peaks of the Black Range.

     On a first rest break I noticed an old, not very tall, telegraph/ telephone pole with some cable still attached.This seemed very odd to me that there would have ever been lines strung through this remote area of the mountains.

There was some pleasant level walking for awhile, a few up and down sections, and then we descended steeply into Rabb Canyon. The stream was flowing(don't count on it the year round though),the wildflowers blooming and the grass was high and green in this park-like  valley. The trail followed the creek in the "park" until a short ways past an old corral where the black-eyed susans grew in profusion.

We then crossed a small, dry, tributary branch and  followed an even smaller gully up to  a sort of flat-bottomed " bowl" where we found the remains of an old shack( really just a frame, it may have covered with canvas at one time). There were pieces of an old stove lying  on the ground and many clusters of gray quartz lying about. We ate our lunch here. Afterwards, we continued on the trail a bit as it climbed its rocky way out of the "bowl" along the side of a ridge.
 We came across a mining claim marked with a cairn and piece of pvc pipe. I must admit, I had mostly forgotten about the fact that this is a moonstone collecting area throughout the hike,being preoccupied with watching the weather( it had been lightly raining on and off), wondering where the park was, and just enjoying hiking. I didn't have any of my mineral collecting books, and couldn't really remember where they recommended for the best collecting. My wife picked up some pieces of what turned out to be smoky quartz,but I would like to come back and hunt the sandy creek for some good moonstone specimens.
     On the way back I noticed that were several more telegraph/telephone poles I hadn't seen on the way in. I may have to contact the Forest Historian to get the scoop on these. It was nice to hike when it was so green.The opportunity doesn't come up that often, and we were grateful to stroll in the pinon-juniper forest and and the grassy canyons without making ourselves or our dog miserably hot.Update: Parts of Rabb Park suffered in the Silver Fire,but it appears to have fared better than many other areas nearby.

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