Wednesday, June 4, 2014
Agua Sarca Trail ( FT 16) - Carson National Forest
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.