We've made a number of trips to the White Mountains, but we were always somewhat put off by the crowds — especially when we stayed in campgrounds. Over the last three years, we've become better acquainted with the area, and we've learned to venture farther off the beaten path.
Every year in June, we gather with fellow hams for Amateur Radio Field Day, to test and demonstrate their ability to communicate with limited equipment in challenging locations. Elevation and a good radio horizon are key, but so is a pleasant environment, since half the fun is camping with your buddies.
There's only one cure for those mean, low-down waiting-for-the-monsoon blues. But where to run when all New Mexico national forests — except, oddly, the Gila — were closed due to fire and extreme fire danger?
When I was growing up in northern Minnesota, I noticed that when my father read in bed at night, it wasn't "Popular Mechanics" or "Field & Stream". It was maps. Paper maps. He must have infected me with his cartographilia, because map reading is my super power. And it can come in really handy when a very well-planned trip goes totally off the rails.
A return visit to Three Rivers was, if anything, even more impressive than our initial exploration on a bone-chilling winter day in December, 2016. Here are the best of the hundreds of photos we took on our 2022 trip. How remarkable that there are so few repeats!
For CDT Trail Days, we returned to Sycamore Canyon Trail #234, which is part of the Continental Divide Trail Gila alternative. This time we made it all the way to the "official" location of Devil's Garden, including the famous "Regis-Tree".
We eagerly signed on when our dear friend Brenda T suggested a backpack along the Gila River Trail. We've done this trail many times, but always as a day hike. We'd never taken two days and spent the night at Alum Camp.
The Twin Sisters are a pair of bullet-bra volcanos bridged by a mysterious white ridge that is visible from almost anywhere in Silver City. I've been obsessed by them since my first days in my new hometown. What was this ridge made of? Was it possible to hike across it? A number of trails appeared to link to it, but only via a long and difficult hike:
Uninspired by our exploratory hike at Cooke's Peak, we gleefully set out cross-country, eventually making our way to an elusive ghost town in a high valley on the north side of the mountain.
A sudden snowstorm blew in overnight, and we hustled out of the house, hoping for a snow hike. We ended up on an abandoned Forest Service road that connects with the trails on the ridge behind our house.
When our friend Brenda T. proposed a hike to Drippings Springs, Kim R-S suggested we tack on a camping trip. Our initial foray into the Organ Mountains was a pleasant surprise, both for the scenery and for fascinating history, including an interesting connection to the Butterfield Trail.
Week after week, we return to the Cooke's Peak area, drawn by its fascinating history and expansive views of classic high desert terrain. We failed to find an alternate route to Cookstown, but in addition to perfect desert camping, we enjoyed a fine bushwhack to Massacre Peak and some success hunting for bits of carnelian.
We got a wild hair after breakfast to hike another chunk of the CDT. We chose a section south from US 90 to the Co-op Mine, which we thought would be just a nice Sunday afternoon stroll. The trail surprised us by climbing to an open granite ridge with stupefying views. But the icing on the cake was a final scamper to the top of a small mountain whose summit was capped with the purest white quartz.
Hooray! Josh and Carole were coming for a visit! But where, among all the fantastic destinations within 100 miles of Silver City, to take them? After weighing the weather, travel time and the length of Winter days, we returned — once again! — to Fluorite Ridge.
Our obsession with the historic area near Cooke's Peak continues unabated. With the bathroom rehab project finally behind us, we took a day off to explore the former site of Fort Cummings at Cooke's Spring.
The guest bath at the Bungle-Oh was a sad little room with gray walls, a handmade washstand and fake woodgrain peel-and-stick vinyl flooring. We knew we wanted to replace the shower stall with a bathtub, but we had no idea how much work it would take!
We took a few days off from scraping, scrubbing, sanding and painting to get acquainted with a storied area near Cooke's Peak. Traversed by the Butterfield Trail, it is also home to two major petroglyph sites and several abandoned fluorite mines.
Two years ago while exploring in the vicinity of Gila Lower Box, we peeked into a canyon and wondered if there would be possible to make our way down. It's been on my list ever since, and an unusual 70-degree day in early December was the perfect opportunity.
This Thanksgiving, we decided to try something we never do — just relax! So we booked a couple of nights at Faywood Hot Springs, which is a short drive from home now that we live in Silver City.
Finally, a day off from digging holes or destroying the guest bathroom! We chose an exploratory hike of Rain Creek, on the west side of the Mogollon Mountains, where 10,000-foot jagged mountains soar up from the the yellow grass plains of Wildhorse Mesa.
We were invited to lead a hike with a group of friends from Tucson who were staying at Wilderness Lodge. Why not stay over, get another soak, and maybe check out some of the side canyons that have been on our radar for more than 20 years?
I've been itching to return to this spot for years! No more excuses now that it's a mere hour's drive from home! This summer's monsoon and some eager beavers have certainly reconfigured the stream bed! We did manage a soak, but we had to work for it!