Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Cañones Creek Trail( FT 82)- Santa Fe National Forest

Even though the lower end of this trail was just a couple of miles up the road from the house were renting, access is blocked by private property, so we had  to take the long way around( 20 miles) using NM 96 to Youngsville and then Forest Roads 100 and 99 to the upper trail head.
 We started off  at around 10,000 feet up on the huge dissected plateau that is the north side of the Jemez Mountains. The trail took us gradually and then increasingly more steeply down a side drainage that was dry( I expected at least a trickle)  and was full of dead conifers.

We emerged after less than a mile in the open meadows of upper Cañones Creek. We went down to the stream so our dogs could drink and cool off. Unfortunately what we found was mostly trampled mud and close cropped grass with only the occasional puddle of clear water. The never-ending drought in New Mexico continues. It was very reminiscent of our trip to the upper meadows of Canjilon Creek four years ago.

 We hiked downstream and where the stream entered a more forested section, it dried up altogether leaving only gray rocks and gravel. We continued down a little more where it acquired a weak flow from  a couple of feeble springs. That's where we called it quits, sat in the grass and  ate lunch. I had had plans of doing a little fishing. So much for that. There may be better water  and at least a few fish in the box canyon section lower down, but that will have to wait for another trip.  More direct access to this middle reach is had using FR 100, FR 173 and FT 102. As it turns out,I had left my reel behind,  which would have been very frustrating had there been anything to catch.
  On the way back, our dogs were giving us fits, as we tried to wrangle them up the trail. All they wanted to do chase the many, many chipmunks that emerged from every nook and cranny among the boulders in the meadow. When we got back in the woods, we picked and ate the many tiny wild strawberries that grew at our feet. When I would pop a good one into my mouth it tasted like the distilled essence of a larger berry- all gone in the briefest of seconds.
 Getting back to the level ground at the trailhead, we heard our first thunder, got in the 4Runner and head back off the mountain.
NOTE: There is what appears to be an abandoned project to fence the upper reaches of this creek, with gates( I assume that  cattle could be let in to drink or cross the stream at these junctures) and posts installed but no wire. If anyone has any information about this,please comment.

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