Tuesday, November 11, 2014

"A" Trail ( FT 119)- Lincoln National Forest

I didn't want to end my hiking day at just little after 2. I have a rule that the activity time should always be at least equivalent to the round trip driving time, so I headed  back downhill to the "A" Trail trailhead. I was  actually thinking about walking Trail 219( Hells Hole Trail), which looked to be a short little out and back that headed south from the same trailhead. I didn't notice any markers, so I took off on  FT 119 thinking I would see it soon. I didn't, but it was okay, because after only a very short walk, the "A" Trail was treating me to fantastic views down Hells Hole Canyon and Caballero Canyon on the south, and Dry Canyon on the north. Unlike the Gobbler Knob hike there was no waiting for big payoff.
  Initially, the trail climbs a small hill, but then levels out with only some very minor up and down for the next mile or so as it follows atop the narrow spine of  the ridge that extends as one of the many branches growing out from West Side mesa.  I knew that this was a trail that went all the way down to Alamogordo, but little else. I decided to walk along until it began going down hill in earnest, then I would turn around. So Seamus the Scottie and I just trucked along in the bright afternoon sun( should have brought my big hat). Further along views opened up of the city ( Alamogordo) below and all the way out to White Sands. In the far distance was Salinas Peak. The walking was easy for the most part. Even though this trail is open to motorized use, at least this section was not showing any signs of overuse or abuse. We just kept going a little further until we reached a meadow area I'd  been looking ahead at for much of the hike. It was a pretty spot. We rested a bit. I thought about climbing a small rocky peak on the meadow's northern edge, but didn't.  I had a strong feeling that not too far from here, the trail would begin its serious descent. Checking maps later, I was more or less right. If one wanted a little more of a " destination" for this hike, Ortega Peak is just little bit  beyond where I stopped and wouldn't be too taxing even for the casual hiker. We had hiked close to 50 minutes out there and by the time we got back, it was a quarter to 4 with the sun rapidly dropping. Good timing, and really the best part of this hiking day was spent on a trail I decided to walk down as afterthought. NOTE: Trail 219 is on the left at the 3-way intersection of 5574,119,219. For some really good info on this and other nearby areas, especially on the west side of the Lincoln, check out imike's trail descriptions of the hikearizona website.

views down to hells hole

salinas peak at left center

the meadow

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