Monday, July 11, 2016
The Tale of the Schofield Canyon Trail ( FT 5007A)- Lincoln National Forest
Once upon time, your truly, The Explorer, decided to go on a little hike, the day before he was scheduled to begin a series of family visits to Magnolia, Texas; Danbury, Connecticut and Putney, Vermont. His knees had felt a little creaky lately( foreshadowing here), but he figured it was okay, as he wasn't planning anything too epic, just a little jaunt in the forest on actual trails. Well, everything started off alright that Monday morning in June. He arrived at Schofield Canyon, an unassuming upper tributary of the Rio Penasco, and off he went with his two Scotties, Nessie and Seamus, on a pleasant, clear morning. There was trickle of water in the tiny stream, and the trail side grasses were greening up nicely already, due to a steady diet of late spring rains.He snapped a photo looking back down the steep,but not ridiculously steep hill he had come up,and continued the peaceful hike on what was once an old road now turned trail.
About 3/4 of a mile in, they all came to the intersection with FT 5007C and took a water break.That's when the explorer realized he did not have his keys.He panicked a little,but then quickly came to the conclusion that in all likelihood they were on the ground somewhere very close to his vehicle. The reason he thought this was because about a 11 months previous, in another national forest, he had realized he didn't have his keys, and after much anxiety ridden searching up and down the trail, had found them 3 feet from the passenger side door.
Of course he couldn't be totally sure that was case, and since they had only come less than a mile, he thought it prudent to backtrack now, retrieve them, and then re- start the hike with peace of mind. Ha! Fate had a different sort of adventure in mind. For good measure, he did the best he could to check the gravelly trail and its environs, even as Nessie pulled him downhill with all her tiny might. Back at his wonderfully white 2016 Toyota 4Runner, the keys were not to be found.It was locked,so even though he was 99% positive that that meant they were not in the vehicle, he looked inside every window. They were not to be seen. The day, himself and his dogs were rapidly becoming hot at this un-shaded trailhead,but what choice did they have but go back up the trail in search, and then back down, and then back up and then down. Oh,in case you are wondering, there is no cell service in this part of the Lincoln, and the only other keys were with his wife in Virginia.
On one of his returns, right across the Rio Penasco Road( County 17, or FS 164),some rancher folk were unloading horses and rounding up cattle that had gotten inside the electric fence that enclosed a section of the Rio Penasco. He knew how the ranchers felt about this fence, put in place by the Forest Service to protect habitat for the Meadow Jumping Mouse. He decided to not ask for their help, not because he thought they wouldn't have given it to him, but because they were not having the best of days either.
Shortly thereafter, some plainclothes forest service personnel arrived, and agreed to help once they returned from checking with the above mentioned rancher folk. The Explorer sat in the shade on banks of the Penasco which was flowing nicely, ate some snacks and rested with his pups. Some more forest service personnel arrived, and he told them his plight as well. When the original ones he had contacted returned, there was much talk about what to do if the damnable keys could not be found. He was already intimately aware of what had to be done because, almost exactly a year ago his wife had flown to Virginia with both sets of keys, necessitating a call to locksmith who came and made keys for him in the parking lot of an Albuquerque hotel( cost: in excess of $300!). He could scarcely wrap his mind around the idea that this bizarre circumstance, which he felt so certain would happen only once in his life was happening again only one year later.
There was much discussion, about the many steps involved in extricating himself from the situation. He would have to be driven the ranger station, to call a locksmith down in Alamogordo to come out and make keys. Besides the expense, humiliation, and his two long suffering but obviously miserable dogs, there was something else eating at him: the keys had to be on the trail somewhere. He had stayed within five feet of the path the whole time.Even as he had been looking, now hours, earlier, he did realize that every time he looked away,for even a fraction of second to control his dogs or mind his footing, was a perhaps a lost opportunity for finding the keys.
He decided to hold off on the most drastic solution, and the group,all volunteers and employees of the National Forest Service, cheerfully decided to help him look for the cursed keys. First, they looked all around and in( as best they could) the car and then headed up the trail. His heart was lightened by the companionship of these strangers as he talked and laughed with them. 15 minutes later one of them found the janglers of steel and plastic that were the key to his happiness.
The Explorer was overjoyed as he thanked them all profusely. All's well that ends well. Except fate had one more twist( literally and figuratively).
The helpers went on their way and he, he took his dogs down to the little Rito Penasco for a dip in the cooling waters.He was relieved, but exhausted like they were, and he stepped a little strangely as he was pulled by Nessie down the bank. That's when something went sideways in his knee, his leg buckled and a searing pain almost brought him to the ground. He hobbled with them over to the stream, as the pain grew steady and persistent, and the muscles and tendons stiffened to stone. Things like this had happened before so despite the pain, he subsequently drove down the road to look at the waterfall at Bluff Springs and the trail head for Taylor Canyon( FT 5007) and then drove the very scenic Karr Canyon Road down to NM 82 on his return trip.
Upon returning home,however, he had the creeping suspicion, due to being barely able to walk, that this pain was not going away any time soon. His adventures on more or less one leg while traveling by car and plane over the next several days fall outside the purview of this blog
Torn medial meniscus.