Wandering New Mexico - Part 1
New Mexico is the forgotten state. Let’s keep what you see ahead between us. I want to retire or at least become a hermit there.
We were trying to do a lot in a 3 day weekend, but sometimes you just need to cover fresh ground. There is something about new vistas, roads and corners to drive around that refreshes the soul.
We made it all the way to Clifton, AZ area on Friday after work. Shortly after we started to drive some new roads. Even if it’s not dirt, fresh roads start to give you that adventurous feeling. “What’s next, what will we see.” Fresh beauty is the best kind.
We climbed in elevation and I started to picture a day to come back here on a motorcycle.
Not long after this we hit dirt. This was a long shot trail. It could be closed, private or even far too crowded. I’d planned out some backup locales just in case.
We lucked out! We passed through 2 gate fences marked as National Forest so we were safe to keep on keepin' on. After crawling over a couple downed trees we deemed our introverted brains, remote enough. It was interesting to see that, although we’d entered this dirt track in Arizona, we were now in New Mexico, if just.
(Red line is the state line Arrow is us.)
It was time to break out a little treat that I’d bought for this trip. A bottle of Del Bac Whiskey. Mesquite Whiskey from Tucson, AZ.
Our Whiskey - Hamilton Distillers
A couple of pulls from the ol bottle and I felt the office life melting away. I don’t have an office job, I’m just me, back in my element.
The next morning we back tracked out of this trail to pavement and we re-entered New Mexico the official way.
Not long after Kelsey said, DID YOU SEE THOSE LANDCRUISERS!!!???
So, of course we turned around. This fella owned a nice pair of FJ40's and several other old trucks slowly rotting away.
This truck had the factory PTO (Power Take Off) winch that is very rare. It uses the engines power to operate the winch and a host of other accessories. The other truck was a bit further than I want to walk on someones property that may have me in their sites so I let it be, but left my name and number expressing interest in the trucks. (No calls so far...)
The next stop was to find water. This was another spot I’d found from staring at maps so it could be anything from crowds to a closed road. We passed a lot of trucks on the road out there. Once at the rivers edge there were a couple of horse trailers and more campers. I knew the road kept going so we kept doing river crossing after river crossing. As we went the trucks lessened, but a few persisted. Eventually we did one last crossing and cut through some mud that had no tracks and I knew we’d hit paydirt. Sometimes having even an infinitesimally more capable truck pays off or was that just more stupidity on my part? It’s hard to know.
(An odd building a bit up creek.)
We parked the truck, grabbed our sandwiches and headed up a side canyon with a nice flowing creek. We had several miles to cover to find some hot springs. Almost 3.5 miles of rock hopping later we realized we were half way there at best... I didn’t really want to see it that bad. We’d already been hiking for an hour and a half. I think it’s time to head back and enjoy the bird in the hand.
So we did just that.
We really debated on staying in this spot for the night. The weekend was just beginning so we weren’t sure if our “See nobody” goal would work at this camp. We decided to head out, hoping it wasn’t a mistake. As we left we could hear a large diesel engine working hard not far off. Sure enough a big dodge was trying to cross the last river crossing. It’s tough to say if he’d try the mud and sand we had to go through to get to our spot, but it made us feel like we made a good choice.
We made tracks and headed for high ground. It was too hot down low to not be near water!
(Passing some adobe ruins on our way up, up up in elevation)
The road we chose first ended at a nice camp, but there were already 5 or 6 trucks parked camping and bbqing. Bust... time to find a backup. We realized this was a popular area, maybe, so we went big and started following a new track that showed very little use from the start.
After thinking we’d found the end several times, it just kept climbing. Bit by bit it became clear this was little more than a UTV trail on what was left of an old mine road. Eventually after a few sketchy spots we found the end at almost 7,600 Ft in elevation. Perfect!
We had a quick look into the mine (I’m not one for venturing too far underground) and found that it looked like it had been left just as it may have the last time they finished work for the day. My guess is sometime in the 1960's to 70's or so.
(Lone Pine Mine, NM)
It was time to kick back and relax. Our view from the firepit was inspirational. Like Rufant says, the Southwestern United States looks similar to Australia. In that same way, NM also looks similar to Arizona, but somehow uniquely different.
We cooked up our Carne Asada that had been marinating for 2 days and sat listening to some mellow music.
Thanks for coming along on part one.
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