July 2012

by Redhorse

           New Mexico wildfires, drought and positive cases of Vesicular Stomatitis didn’t prevent Texas trailriders from heading north. The triple digit July Texas weather just spurred them into finding safe mountain trails and camping.  As schedules allowed, over a dozen Texans converged at Jack’s Creek in the Pecos Wilderness.  Among them Misty Valdez (“Misty’s Marauders”), Mark Morton & Lea Rohlmeier (“Ma & Pa Kettle”), Guides Delford Daniels & Ronnie Wright, Nancy Carter, Redhorse, Terry & Ann Brock with Hannah & Rebecca and Tim & Maria Tomlinson.

          Misty trail blazed through Valle Vidal only to discover there was no water so Jack’s Creek became the official destination for all.  There was a full week of afternoon rains while riding and one daylong downpour.  Chipmunks spent a lot of time on axles and vehicle chassis until their burrows dried out.  Temperatures stayed between the 40’s and 70’s and got up in the 80’s the second week. The high altitude was an issue for this writer about the 4th day.  Taking a couple of aspirin a few times a day added oxygen to my blood and kept most side effects at bay.

          Nancy and I were new to the Pecos Wilderness and fortunate to have experienced trailriding friends to introduce us to the beautiful trails. Our travels to and from New Mexico were via the Happy Tracks Horse Motel (exit #60 on I-40, west of Amarillo). It's usually a quiet place to rest when traveling with your favorite, four-legged, friend.  We arrived at Jack's Creek in the pouring rain and found temporary spots for our rigs.

          During a ten day period, we rode to Beatty’s Cabin, Kennedy Point, Noisy Brook, Stewart Lake, Cave Creek, Pancheula Trail, below Round Mountain and to Pecos Baldy & Lake; at least 50 miles.  Misty and the guides probably logged double that.  Rains were part of each day of riding and bb sized hail had piled up on our return from Beatty's Cabin.  Larger hail had pelted riders a few days earlier. A few folks had read “Beatty’s Cabin” by Elliott Barker prior to the adventure and it put exciting history stories to some of the locations.

          A group of us also rode the Brock F350 with full air bag shocks to Iron Gate.  Now that was a ride! There must be some riders and mounts in some of those potholes!

          Back Country Horsemen out of the Pecos Chapter arrived in force one day to pack up part of their group.  Their camping needs for a week and equipment for maintaining trails were left at a designated camp.  They were picked up one week later by some of the same Horsemen.  The work this group and other volunteers provide was evident everywhere.  Large and small falls of downed timber were everywhere and made passable by these groups.  We encountered a couple hiking out; he was carrying a 6 ft. two-man timber saw.  These are the kind of folks that help keep these trails open and available. Thanks to all of them!

          The scenery in every direction in the Pecos Wilderness is breathtaking.  The wildlife, (deer, elk, bear, grouse and more), is everywhere and spotted regularly.  A particular incident that caught everyone off was a rider’s horse that died on the trail of a heart attack.  The logistics required the animal be quartered and removed from the trail.  Within a few days, a bear was spotted in the area and hastily departed allowing riders to pass.  It served as a testament to the natural ways that wildlife survives.

          One day, a load of Cowgirls headed to Santa Fe to promote Texas shopping in NM!  T-shirts, guitar picks and some great food at the La Fonda on the Plaza historic hotel restaurant made the day. One of the most interesting stores was Shalako Indian Store. Along with new Native American creations, they bought up pawn shop antique items and while prices drifted in the clouds; it was like going through a very interesting museum.

          Another group of family and friends of a 41 year old man (killed by a falling tree nine months ago) were there to spread his ashes.  Over 20 riders, including his 3 young children, honored his wishes and made a day long trek to Pecos Baldy.

          With the permanent closure of White Mountain Wilderness (Bonita Lake) for the foreseeable future due to fires, and drought conditions in other popular New Mexico equestrian areas, the Pecos Wilderness became congested.  Camping spots were filled up and overflow areas in use at Jack's Creek.

          In my opinion, anyone heading to the Pecos Wilderness (8,000-13,000 ft.) and Jack's Creek should be prepared to deal with altitude sickness.  Here's a link for Altitude/Mountain Sickness. Britching or cruppers on equine will help stop tack from slipping and galling. I prefer smaller groups of 5-6 as spacing out is a preference in some areas. The trails are all very good. They average 4 ft. wide in most areas and are kept passable by the volunteer groups mentioned earlier. There are lots of rocks so equine should be shod.  Camping fees are $10/day and they honor the Conservation Passports of Seniors (63) for half price. Burn Bans are typical at this campsite, but were all lifted before I left.  A good information link is the Terrero Store Blog.  Keep your camera handy; there are "Kodak Moments" everywhere!

          At this writing (7.17.12), Misty is still homesteaded up in the Pecos Wilderness!  She and Delford and Ronnie made it to the Pecos Falls yesterday.  They plan to make the Trailriders Wall, north of Baldy Lake, before she comes back to earth. (Misty re-entered the earth's atmosphere at Alvord, TX, on 7.20.12)





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