Sunday, November 17, 2013

Forest Trail 100, Allie Canyon Trail- Gila National Forest

The Allie Canyon trail( FT 100) does not start  near the mouth of the canyon off of NM 35. That is Allie Canyon Road. Rather it starts a couple of miles further north right before the Wilderness Ranger Station.Parking is available at the station, as well as  a waterless toilet. There is also  water to pump here if you need it. Being so close to the ranger station, one would think there would be an easy way to walk from the parking to the trailhead. There isn't. One must walk  a short ways along the road to get there. Be careful- NM 35 has many blind hills and curves as well as drivers who are driving faster than they should be. We started hiking  along in a less than picturesque  gully with slash piles, horse crap and the usual assortment of shrubs, trees and weeds that indicate misuse. Really, this part of the hike has little to recommend it, which is odd seeing as it is so close to a ranger station, you would think they would want it to be something to showcase to visitors. Instead it is eroded and abused.
     Eventually, we started hiking up a feeder gulch on the south side which took us up in a hurry. Views of Mcknight Mountain opened up to the east. It was hard to tell how badly that area had burned. The large stands of aspen may have survived, but had already lost their leaves for the year. The trail tops out on  a ridge. We opened the gate in the fence, with views of the large Allie Canyon valley  to the south quickly coming on. Shortly afterward came the roughest, hottest and steepest part of the trail. This section was not a lot of fun on the way out. My wife's water container had leaked earlier on and  I began to worry, not knowing if the springs on the map or if Allie Canyon itself was a reliable water source, about making the trek back up this hill and then all the way back to the trailhead with little or no water for ourselves, or our dogs. To make things worse, my Scottie Seamus took off into the brush  and stayed away just long enough for a little panic to begin. He returned, and shortly afterward we found the clear flowing spring as the trail leveled out. The flats along this side canyon  would make a beautiful place to camp. We then made it  to Allie Canyon which was a rocky, but flowing little stream. There we purified water and ate our lunch.
       A few observations about Allie Canyon occurred while we picnicked. Like many other Gila streams with heavy grazing , Allie Canyon has a channel  that seems several times too wide and deep for it's flow. It it also had very few  young riparian trees at least in this section, just a few mature alders. Allie Canyon may have held trout at one time, it obviously has a perennial flow in some sections and before the lower end became more like a desert wash, connected to the Mimbres River which does have trout. We watched some folks in one of those  little utility vehicles navigate a very dicey section of the road where the bank had collapsed and shortly followed after along the road to the old cabin and corral.
 The cabin  is at the west end of a large grassy clearing and is still in usable shape,  with beds, a linoleum floor, a 1940's era formica dinette, a stove and an outhouse out back. A  more recent wooden sigh says" Crumbley 46." I met the man who made it ,Jack Crumbley, the following day. His family built the cabin and have lovingly maintained  and continued to use  it for  more than a  half century. Mr. Crumbley was doing a round  up of  his cattle  on the ranch property where we were staying, a real honest to goodness cowboy on horseback. I would have liked to explore further upstream in Allie Canyon- but there  just wasn't time. I also thought about making it loop hiking by walking back on the dirt road,but that would have left more than a mile of higway walking along  the busy NM 35 with our dogs, which was not appealing. So we trudged back up the hill, back down the gulch and gully ,and then back to our truck.

1 comment:

troutbirder said...

Such gorgeous settings and flyfishing to boot....:)