Archive for the 'camping' Category

Fall camping

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We took a camping trip in the Manzanos in October. It was quite lovely, the trees were turning color and it was cool but not freezing cold.
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Ken, the dogs, and I hiked to the top of the ridge. Because that is what we do! It was pretty windy.
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My cousin once-removed is the kid who gets to ride his bike at the campground who I was always SO jealous of when I was growing up. Having five kids doesn’t lend itself to bringing bikes camping, I guess. And then his dad carries the bike uphill! That kid might be a bit spoiled…
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There was plenty of chatting and story telling accomplished. Here’s a story generated on the trip: Amongst us we had three sort of largish dogs, and we had them off their chains so that they could play together, which they were doing nicely, until a guy walked by to go to the bathroom and they all decided they needed to eat him (instigated by Heidi, of course.) People had been walking by fairly regularly and they’d been ignoring them, I’m not sure what it was about this guy. Poor guy. We managed to haul the dogs away, and they didn’t bite him or anything, but they sure sounded angry. We are bad dog owners.
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This may be the quintessential picture of my uncle: sitting next to a campfire telling stories that are probably based in truth.
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My cousin and his son playing the ukelele and singing together for us was pretty precious.
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Man, writing this post has made me want to go camping. My aunt and uncle are coming into town again in a couple of weeks, think I can talk everybody into winter camping?? Probably not…


Parental visitation

My beloved Mom and Dad came to visit us back in July. I have a sneaking suspicion that the real motivation for the particular timing of the visit was to see my brand new first cousin once removed who lives in town, but they did actually spend most of the time camping with us. Guess if I want to see them more I should have some kids…
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We had a great time camping. We did a lot of fishing, went to a classic small-town 4th of July parade, hiked up to some alpine lakes, played games, visited with my Dad’s aunt and uncle, and enjoyed the sights (and relatively cool weather!) of Northern New Mexico.

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I like Mom’s style packing up the tent. It felt like sort of a whirlwind visit in the midst of building a shop, remodeling the bathroom, and Ken having a new job, but we had a great time with them.

Memorial Day Manzanos camping

You may have guessed by the way I’ve not been posting anything that I have a backlog of things to write about, and the thought of getting caught up is just too daunting. The time has come. This was our camping trip over Memorial Day. That’s how far behind I am.

When we arrived, there was some fairly sizable hail on the ground. We felt thankful that it had hailed BEFORE we got there.
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This is why they call it robin’s egg blue. So pretty! Ken accidentally scared the mom robin off of her nest and felt really bad. She came back through.
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There were so many beautiful birds around our campsite!
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We went on a hike to the top of the ridge. Dogs love hiking.
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The dogs were VERY excited about the cows we met along the way.
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This forest had burned a couple of years back.
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We didn’t quite get to the top of the ridge, because there was a very ominous and close crack of thunder and we had to turn around and scurry down the mountain to shelter. It’s a good thing we did. No sooner did we get back to the camp, than it started to hail. A lot. We sheltered in the car.
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I told you it was a lot of hail.
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Oh dear.
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Happily the sun came out when the storm was over and we dried everything out.
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Including Klaus.
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So we might be bad people. We let our dogs tear up this meadow in search of some rodent. They never caught it, but man was it funny to watch them try.
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Heidi got a little bit chilly that evening. She needed a blanket and to be snuggled up to the fire. What a pansy dog.
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The next day we drove up to hike along the ridge. It was a beautiful hike with some beautiful views, but the windfalls from the fire were numerous and made for a lot of scrambling up and over. I think I counted over 100 that we went over.
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From the ridge we could see the clouds rolling in, and by time they were looking like rain it was pretty late in the afternoon, so we weren’t going to have a chance to dry everything out before night. So we chickened out and went home. Which is a nice thing you can do when you’re camping less than an hour from home… And you know what? That was a good decision. It rained ALL night, and my bed was dry and I wasn’t sleeping half an inch or less from two big, wet dogs.

Final bits of the Gila trip

Ken is super allergic to poison ivy, and we noticed on the second day of backpacking that there was baby poison ivy coming up next to all the rocks in our camp, and we’d been sitting and stepping in it. I hadn’t thought to bring the poison ivy scrub (when will I learn? Or maybe when will Ken learn, he’s the one who’s so allergic…), so we had to go in search of some when we were done hiking. That hadn’t been part of the plan, so good thing we’re flexible. We headed back to Silver City and found some Arby’s, poison ivy scrub, gas, and these.

Nothing like lobster tail, steak, peas, and french bread after eating dehydrated food for a couple of days. We were very full.
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We camped at a group camp that night. It was a sorta weird place, just a bunch of fire pits in a very flat Ponderosa forest. But it was free, and there were only two other groups camping there, so it worked for us. The next morning we drove out the impressive road to the Gila Cliff Dwellings National Monument.

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The cliff dwelling hike is very cool, totally worth the $3 entry fee.

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I think we should explore this part of the Gila some more in the future. There’s a bunch of rivers which come together in this area, and you can hike up various ones. We did a bit of a hike up one to see a hot springs. These are the sorts of hikes where you cross the river a whole bunch of times. And it’s not a shallow little stream, this was high enough to come over the tops of my boots.

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We left that area in the mid afternoon and drove back to the south-east, spending the next two nights at the Black Range Lodge, a bed and breakfast in a very cool old building. The owners were very friendly, and the building and grounds are full of character. We had a nice stay, doing some hiking and finally seeing some lupine close enough to take a picture. We had driven by some, but not hiked by any previously. I think they might be one of my favorite flowers.

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We headed home on Saturday so we could go to church and get ourselves sorted out before we went back to work. It was a very enjoyable and relaxing trip. If only we could take more 9 day trips to the middle of nowhere!

Gila Wilderness Backpacking part 2

We day hiked up the valley further the second day. We found that the stream-restarted about a half mile up, so we totally could have continued backpacking. Oh well.
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They aren’t kidding around when they build cairns on this trail. Good thing too, the trail was washed out a few places, but the cairns remained.
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For all the geologists out there, we thought this was a pretty cool rock formation.
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On the way back to camp, we saw: A BEAR! We came over a little ridge, and it was down in the valley. It took one look at us and took off running. That’s how I like my bears. Running away from me. It paused at this tree to look at us for long enough for us to grab the camera before it took off up the ridge. There’s nothing there for scale, but that is a pretty huge Ponderosa it’s standing in front of – I could probably have put my arms around half the diameter.
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Day 3 we bushwacked to the top of the ridge above our camp for a view of the surrounding area. It was sorta hot and everything had been recently burnt on the top, so I don’t have any beautiful pictures. Mostly we wanted to get back down and stick our feet in the stream.

Day 4 we hiked out and found a beaver dam on the way out. Somehow we’d missed it on the way in – the trail washed away at some point in the past few years because there was a big fire upstream, so it was a bit hit and miss.
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It wasn’t the backpacking trip we were planning – it was way less epic. But we still had a good time, and we didn’t have to pack up camp every day, which I greatly appreciated. Plus we saw a BEAR. Awesome!

Gila backpacking trip

When I left off, our brilliant backpacking plan had been ruined by lack of water. Happily, the previous valley we had gone through DID have a stream that was running, and there was a trail up it. It was even on the bottom of the maps we’d printed out for our planned route, so we had some idea of what to expect.

Traditional embarkation photo. Note the stream in the background!
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The Aldo Leopold Wilderness! Aldo Leopold was the guy who advocated making the Gila Wilderness, which was the first wilderness ever designated in the US. Incidentally, I think the name Aldo should be brought back. Also Leopold.
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I don’t know how well you can see this. This is a bear print. They were plentiful, as were fresh-looking bear droppings. We were glad we bought and brought bear cans.
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A SNAAAAAKE! I think it might have been dead. It was not very energetic.
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We hiked a ways up – maybe 3 miles, then the stream disappeared. So we camped. The place where we camped was pretty cool though, there was this cave thing where we set up the kitchen.
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We know how to eat while backpacking. Just not how to pack light.
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Introducing, The Gila

People around here simply refer to the Gila National Forest, Gila Wilderness, Aldo Leopold Wilderness, Gila Cliff Dwellings National Monument, and the bits that extend into Arizona (which I don’t know the name of) as The Gila. Combined, it’s a huge wilderness area in southwest New Mexico, and we were able to spend some time exploring in early May.

Look at that face! That face means I am embarking on nine days of vacation in the wilderness and I could not possibly be happier!
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That night, we camped at Lower Gallinas campground, which was next to a nice (for New Mexico, which just means it was running at all) stream in the bottom of a steep valley. It’s pretty much right on the road, so I wouldn’t recommend it if vehicle noise bothers you, but it’s not like NM 152 is particularly busy at night. While sitting around waiting for it to get dark enough to go to bed, we heard a wild turkey call. Ken got a piece of grass and made some noise, and the turkey called back to him! We decided to go see if we could find it. Ken maintains that turkeys are very smart birds, but given that you hunt them by calling to them and allowing them to lead you to their location, which you then remember and come back in the morning to shoot them as they come out of the trees, I would tend to disagree with his opinion. This lovely lady called us close enough to shoot her with the camera.

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The next morning, we headed in to Silver City, where the Silver City criterion, part of the Tour of the Gila bike race, happened to be occuring. We’d never watched a bike race, so it was a pretty fun experience. The race that day was a certain number of laps around downtown Silver City, approximately a 1 mile course, I believe. We didn’t stay to see the pros at the end of the day, but we saw several races, and were in awe of how brave the cyclists were. I would not be the least bit interested in taking right angle corners at those speeds with other riders six inches on every side of me!

These guys are relatively spread out, if you can believe it!
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I love this picture because it shows the acceleration of the riders as they go down the hill.
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After seeing our fill of crazy cyclists, we stopped at a fast food joint for our last meal before backpacking food, and headed out of town a couple of hours. The last two hours or so were on a dirt road, which is normally fine in the Civic, but about five miles of this dirt road would have been better driven in the truck. Oops. All the people in trucks who we passed were looking at us like we were totally crazy. And we were. It’s a miracle we made it out to the campsite and back to civilization with the oil pan intact.

This picture of the road totally does not do it justice.
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When we got to the two creeks which we were planning to hike a loop along, we found… That they were bone dry. Hazards of NM wilderness, guess the snowpack wasn’t so good this year. Lesson learned – call the rangers station to see if they have any information about your planned route, like whether water is available, before you drive two hours along a dirt road that your car can’t legitimately handle. In depression and despair, we camped that night under a couple of cottonwood trees amongst lots of cow pies.

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To be continued…

May 2018
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