Sunday, July 6, 2014

Thousand Mile Canyon Trail ( FT 9216) Lincoln National Forest

This is another short trail that runs between Otero County Road 2( Sacramento River Road or the road to Timberon) and FR 64( Agua Chiquita Road). The trail head is about 5 or so miles from the intersection  with NM 6563( Sunspot Highway). We drove past the Sacramento North and  and the Corral Canyon trails which I wrote about a few weeks ago. Thousand Mile Canyon Trailhead has a real pull out but not very much parking. There  is more parking directly across the road at the Sacramento " Lake" Vista and  trailhead for the short walk to the "lake".  There's a reason that lake is in quotes here. You see, this is southern New Mexico and there isn't one. . . lake that is. I don't want folks who aren't from around here getting excited about a lake, and end up staring at a bunch of wet grass and weeds, which is what they'll see if they go to Sacramento Lake.  You could've at least called it Sacramento Puddle a few years back,but now with our extended drought,even that would be an overstatement.
Anyway,back to Thousand Mile Canyon, which in reality is less than 2 miles. I don't where the name came from. The trail and walking were very similar to  nearby Corral Canyon : a narrow two track( ATVs are allowed but the use doesn't appear heavy) through a mature evergreen forest.  The trail stays right in the canyon bottom initially and the small creek could have water seasonally( early spring and late summer). The prettiest area is about halfway up where there is a small livestock pond( dry right now, of course) in a meadow area with many clusters of aspens, both young and old. If  it weren't so dry I'm sure this spot would have seemed supremely lovely to me. As it was, the aspen leaves seemed dull and wilting, and the grass that was short,but green a few weeks ago was shorter( munched to the nub by cattle and wildlife) and dried to  a crackly crunch. The trail turns to the south here and after passing the snag and recently fallen remains of a truly gigantic fir tree, we began to climb  more earnestly and left the creek bottom as well. The many dead and downed trees along this section made it seem much less shady  and warmer than my Corral Canyon hike. But it could also be that it was just hot. I had come here to get out of the desert heat for the day, but a late start and then an unexpected WMSR road block had  us starting out  for the hike close to the lunch hour.Plus, there's not much you can do when it's 109 degrees down below in Alamogordo, it's going to be closing in on 90 degrees even up at 9,000 feet.
Across the FR 64  at the upper trail head is the beginning of the Hubbell Canyon Trail(FT 9277), and after I'd eaten my lunch we began to walk down it  a ways before I thought better of the whole enterprise. For one thing there were a lot of cows. My scottie dog Seamus does not like cows, and judging by some of the reactions we were getting, they don't like him either. The trail was an old road, consequently more open, and was going downhill. The thought of an unshaded  uphill slog on the way back which was not appealing to myself,nor to Seamus , I would guess. Many of these deficiencies  could be ameliorated if there were just some water running in these canyons, but  without it , we did the right thing and headed back the way we came. Note: there is a corral at Thousand Mile Canyon( not at Corral Canyon,go figure) and it must get some use because there are many of those pesky biting horse flies in its vicinity.

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