Monday, April 29, 2013

Middle Percha Creek Falls-Gila National Forest






After seeing my photos of Mineral Creek Falls last year, my friend Doug of the New Mexico Waterfalls website speculated that there should be a " waterfall" up Middle Percha Creek as well. Being from Taos way, my friend does not fully comprehend the sometime nature of just about any  waterfall here in the southern half of the state- hence the quotation marks.  Well I ventured  out to confirm or deny his speculation on Friday.
      Seamus and I drove up to Kingston, parked our car a  short way inside the Forest boundary on FR 40 and began hiking.Where we would normally turn right to continue on the Ladrone Trail ( FT 127), we turned left, and began a bushwack up the main stem of Middle Percha Creek. It's pretty rough back in there, with rocks, downed timber and brush. It's steep as well. I was beginning to think my friend was wrong, but I decided to push on little farther. I  had been keeping my eyes peeled to see the tell tale matching outcrops high on either side of the stream that usually indicate a waterfall just below. I finally spotted them, and in a short while I had found my waterfall, such as it was. There is first  a 5 foot high cascade( which was dry).   A 7 or 8 foot falls in two drops came next and had a trickle and a pool of water beneath it( Seamus the Scottie was grateful for that). Above that was, what in wetter times is mostly likely a twin 15 -20 falls. One branch had a trickle that created another small pool. The other has an enormous boulder wedged in it so that when water is flowing, it must flow around and mostly beneath this rock.  I climbed up on top and saw some more enormous boulders in the stream, but nothing to indicate any more falls.
     Well, I'd wished I'd gone about a month ago,because given the light winter preciptation and typical very dry spring this year, I was probably lucky to see the tiny amount of water that I did at this late date.  In addition, these falls are almost at the very head of the creek( my GPS data put us at nearly 8,000 feet and close to the ridge line in this section of the Black Range) so it's peak  run-off time is probably short lived.I'll have to try again( maybe with Doug if he ever makes it down here) in a wetter year( if we ever get one of those again). If you go, don't expect much at least not until the Gila gets some good, really good summer rains, or some decent winter snow pack. Our hike was about six miles round trip,but you can shorten considerably by driving further in  on FR 40 depending on your nerves, vehicle and road conditions( see my 2011 blog about this road). IMPORTANT NOTE: This hike is within the Silver Fire burn area(June, 2013). IMPORTANT UPDATE: Forest Road 40 E has been extensively altered by flooding and other factors in the aftermath of the Silver Fire. I estimate less than 2 miles past Kingston, it becomes more or less impassable to vehicles. I know some folks will regard that as a challenge,but those of you that are more sensible, heed my advice( September 2015).

4 comments:

David Cristiani said...

So many peaceful, uncrowded places. The waterfall sounds appealing even in our uber-drought!

Mark Chidichimo said...

Just thought I'd let you know this: I'm a New Mex ex-pat living in NJ. In my college days, I'd backpack the Gila and loved Mineral Creek. My wonderful dog, a Westie-schnauzer mix, is in the vet hospital tonight and we'll most likely have to put her down tomorrow. I was sitting here, Googling my favorite serene places trying to get my mind off her and hit the page with your black dog in the creek. That animal looks exactly....exactly....like my little Ellie. I took this as a sign from above and am at peace. Thank you so much for posting that pic.

Mark Chidichimo said...

Just thought I'd let you know this: I'm a New Mex ex-pat living in NJ. In my college days, I'd backpack the Gila and loved Mineral Creek. My wonderful dog, a Westie-schnauzer mix, is in the vet hospital tonight and we'll most likely have to put her down tomorrow. I was sitting here, Googling my favorite serene places trying to get my mind off her and hit the page with your black dog in the creek. That animal looks exactly....exactly....like my little Ellie. I took this as a sign from above and am at peace. Thank you so much for posting that pic.

devon said...

That's my Scottie Seamus. I'm sorry to hear about your pup. I wrote about losing my Cairn Terrier in the blog back in '09. Thankfully the Middle Percha didn't burn in the Silver Fire.