Monday, July 3, 2017

Sacramento North Trailhead- Lincoln National Forest

We camped at the Sacramento North  Trailhead last week. It's one of the many spots on the high ridge section of the Agua Chiquita Road (FR 64) that I've had my eye on for the past few years. It's a beautiful place situated below the level of road( which makes it much more secluded than all the other nearby camps) that is relatively flat with room for several camps.   There's a small meadow at the head of  the  nameless valley here, ringed with huge firs that provide ample shade throughout the day.

 Unfortunately, its obvious appeal has caused  this area  to suffer some abuse. Several campfire rings with huge piles of ash detracts from the setting's naturalness, as does the many bits and pieces of trash. It also appears that several camping parties, dug latrines that were insufficiently deep, so toilet paper has resurfaced. Bones,  and a  branches of a lean-to made from recently living trees hacked near by, both perhaps remnants from hunting season, are strewn about as well.
 Still, the good aspects of camping here, coupled with the near perfect weather with temperatures in the mid 70's and cloudless skies, far outweighed  the obviously careless attitudes of previous visitors.
 We tidied up the place as  best we  could and then just enjoyed.
This was first trip in our new to us vintage (1994) Casita trailer. Everything went astonishingly smooth with the set up, with the glaring exception encountered when  pulling out the awning, which was a ridiculous contraption from a bygone era. We did get it out and up and enjoyed its amenities while making and eating our lunch. It would turn out to be the first and last time  that we would do so.
 We hiked down the Sacramento North Trail ( FT5008) catching sight of young elk as we went. We stopped and rested at the edge of the big meadow before turning around. It was just a bit too warm for walking in open spaces, and we guided our dogs to the shade as much as we could on the return trip.
 Back at camp, we got to know of the ins and outs of using our  new camping trailer which had many features our T@B teardrop( which we sold several years ago) did not, including a toilet,shower and hot water heater. Around dusk, we did short hike down Deadman Canyon across the road.

 We hadn't been trailer camping since 2012 and hadn't been camping at all in two years, so we were a little rusty. Overnight, I heard unmistakable sounds of animal activity( raccoons I'm guessing) at our site. I didn't think about it much when I later looked up at the stars and Milky Way in the crystal clear night. In the morning I found my backpack torn open and its former contents strewn across the camp. I had left a few Kashi bars in there, which is what they had been after, as the empty wrappers testified. Luckily. I found everything else, maps, water bottles, keys  and  even a few spare AA batteries with teeth marks that had been liberated.
 We set out hiking the next morning down the nameless canyon in front of us.  There was a wildlife trail here and there,but also many downed trees to deal with. Near a magical little clearing,Nessie came up lame. Since it had been, a bit steep and rough coming down, I didn't relish the idea of carrying her back up. So we continued on our planned loop, meeting up with the Sacramento River Road in about 15 minutes. It was a bit warm walking in meadow along the road, carrying Nessie much of the way, to get to the Corral Canyon trailhead, but we made it in good shape and a reasonable amount of time.

 I  was charmed by the Corral Canyon trail ( FT 537) when I visited and wrote about it a couple of years ago. It still impressed, a rustic, winding  two track in the shade of big timber. It's steep for sure,but not straight up like the trails between the Rim and the West Side Road ( FR 90).
Hawks and ravens glided between the trees and songbirds sang. Seamus  and Nessie clued in to the chipmunks and squirrels that chatted at them.This went a long ways towards  speeding up Nessie's recovery, which was mostly complete by the time we rested at the old ( and empty) concrete water trough half way through.
 Reaching the top, the level walking along the road seemed blissfully easy as we headed back to camp one mile distant. We debated shortly whether stay for another night when we saw several large RVs coming down the main road,  to add to the two that had been staked out across the road. They went past us, bu we knew it would be only a matter of time before desperate folks availed themselves of large amount of unused space under the trees with us.
 Packing and hitching up would have been a complete breeze if not for the awning. All I will say is that it now awaits big trash day back in Las Cruces and leave at that. We made our way over to the Silver Campground to have our first try at emptying the tanks. It went wonderfully smooth, and not at all what I had been envisioning: something along the lines of Robin Williams getting shit all over himself in the movie "RV".

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