Tuesday, November 3, 2015

Black Range Crest Trail( FT 79) to Hillsboro Pond- Gila National Forest

This my second time to do this hike and the first time I've been on this trail in almost 10 years. A lot has changed over the past two. Most of the conifer forest was burned in the Silver Fire, and there is now precious little shade over most of the route. Deciduous oaks, survivors from  previous fires, had just grown big enough to shade sections of the trail by the looks of their bent over blackened tops. They are growing back from the roots- survivors once again. Hidden groves of aspen burned as well,but are beginning their comeback and poised for their period of dominance. Weeds and grasses are flourishing in this El Nino year, as are the many saplings of various deciduous species, all getting a chance to grow in the sun of this newly open terrain.

 The trail was well maintained and easy to follow. A few fallen snags were only minor obstructions. However, thorny locust is thriving in many areas now and could easily make travel difficult without constant trail clearing. We could not find any of the old Ladron Trail ( FT 127) to follow down to the pond. The Forest Service sign that said "Kingston 6 "is no longer there as well. We did make our way roughly down there anyway. Some of the aspens  around the waters edge have died, but the evergreens are doing well. The pond may have shrunk slightly, but it looks okay for now. Snow, which we had already seen in a few dark recesses on the trail, lay on the thickly tufted grass which,as it takes root in the shallow waters will eventually take over this little natural lake.

 It was a beautiful fall day,with colors arriving,fading and still a few yet to come even at this late date.It's nice to do a high country hike, after so many canyons and valleys. The views, greatly improved by the lack of live tree cover were fantastic. The  majestically convoluted, rocky terrain of the Black Range was laid bare,a new reminder of just how rugged the range I've spent so much time in really is. An arch formation that was right off the trail, that I'd never noticed before also reminded me that there is still so much to discover here. So I will return to see how it changes as it comes back. It may be hard to countenance the blackened trees,but I realize that as long as I'm here in southwest New Mexico, it will never be too long between visits.


R Ruff said...

I noticed in your profile you're a fly fisher, have you been to Willow and Galita Creeks recently? I was there in October. NM game and fish are doing a good job with the Gila restoration.

devon said...

I haven't been up there in several years. I haven't fished the Gila at all since the two big fires.The water in both those creeks as well as the upper reaches of the Middle Fork, and Snow Lake had been getting very warm in the summer, probably a little worse now. Perhaps the Gila trout will be better adapted to the higher temps.Still, I feel anglers should probably voluntarily not fish many of the Gila National forest trout streams during the warmest months of the year. October and November have always been my favorite months to fish the Gila.

R Ruff said...

Over the period of a few days that I was there they had stocked Willow above the fish barrier. They are allowing fisherman to keep ALL browns caught, if there are any left, and two Gilas. All of the Gilas I caught were released. The water was in the low 60s maybe cooler and I did not catch any browns. I've spoke to a fisheries biologist who has done electrofishing studies and the Gilas seem to be doing well.