Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Agua Sarca Trail ( FT 16) - Carson National Forest


On Friday, our second day of our mini-vacation in Rinconda( near Dixon ,NM) we ate lunch at the lovely Rancho de Chimayo and then visited the beautiful Santuario de de Chimayo. We took the long way back  on part of the High Road to  Taos. I We took a detour to drive through Truchas. I'm still looking for the road that goes to the east end of the land grant following the tiny Rio Truchas to the Forest Service boundary. I'm still curious to see if there are trout in  the stream on Forest Service land.We  crossed the stream  and ended up on the very sub- standard Forest Road 639( see my San Leonardo Lakes blog). The maps show a road turning back to the creek, but we sure didn't see it. If anyone out there has information about this area please comment.
 Anyway, Saturday morning I woke up needing a trail ( preferably a cool one, as the lower elevations were heating up quickly) that was not a lung/knee buster, not over run with mountains bikes or ATVs and had at least some water. After reading many descriptions and  non- descriptions on the Carson National Forest website, I decided on FT 16, the Agua Sarca Trail, which in its brief description mentioned " opportunity for solitude," which is always nice.
 We drove out from Rinconada  first along the Rio Embudo, and then along the Rio Pueblo, on a beautiful,  mostly clear morning. The trail head is  on NM 518 a short distance past the turn off for  FR 76 which leads to the popular La Junta, Duran Canyon fishing and camping area. The hike starts off in a meadow area as  a two track, but soon became an intimate path lined with aspen trees. The very small creek was dry at first, which was a little discouraging, but eventually  had some flow downstream of several meadow springs. The trail climbed at a very modest rate sometimes close to the creek, sometimes notched in the grassy, open hillside. Occasionally views opened up looking back as we climbed higher. They were subdued( by Rocky Mountain standards) but pretty nonetheless. After eating a relaxing  lunch along the tiny shaded ( and flowing) stream, we began to walk  again quickly coming upon a fenced area where several springs feed the stream, as well a livestock drinker.  In a meadow above the springs,  we saw a large elk, who we put off from getting her lunchtime drink, as we tried to keep our Scottie Seamus from chasing her. Past the the spring area the trail  finally got steep, as we trudged through an area with many dead standing trees, and much downfall across the trail Shortly after  Forest Road 722 was attained which marked the end of the trail. There are two small hills to be climbed to the east and to the west, if one needs  a peak to bag to feel satisfied. One is named Cerro Picacho. Our return trip was equally enchanting, Bright blue Stellar's Jays flapped from tree to tree.Bristlecone pines with their strange bottlebrush branches grew trailside on the rocky,open slopes. The very recent deposits of bear scat on the trail didn't seem worrisome in the least even though we had neglected to bring our bear spray. This was a perfect day hike in a beautiful forest. Note: the Forest  Service has lamely put a single post(  they really couldn't afford a couple more?)in the gateway at the trailhead which only prevents the largest of vehicles from entering the meadow area at the bottom of the trail. By the tread marks it looks  like folks to drive in there to camp, even though they shouldn't. Don't be one of them.

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