Thursday, May 31, 2007

LeDoux takes a side trip to Silver City

--PIE TOWN, NEW MEXICO. May 30, 2007. Day 24. A joyful reunion with LeDoux. He and Erin became separated in the dark almost 2 weeks ago while coming down McKnight Canyon to Mimbres. She with the help of the Sova's spent the weekend looking for him. The following is the account of his rescue as submitted by Frank Ferrera of Silver City New Mexico.

Found Wednesday morning, May 23rd (5 days after he was lost), relaxing on the porch of the backwoods clubhouse of the Gila Rangers Cowboy Action Shooting Club of Silver City. The range is located in Water Canyon on the Fowler ranch in the Mimbres Valley about 35 miles north of Silver City. A work party of Gila Rangers arrived that day to do some rebuilding of the shooting facilities where they hold monthly Cowboy Action Shooting matches. This range was also the venue of the Single Action Shooting Society (SASS) 2003, 4, and 5 New Mexico State Championship for Cowboy Action Shooting. ( LeDoux looked a bit undernourished from his 5 day ordeal, still wearing his makeshift booties to protect his feet from the long journey. Frank Ferrara, a local retiree, Gila Ranger officer, volunteer Fireman and Search and Rescue member, 'rescued' the K-9 and returned to Silver City, before contacting LeDoux's 'grandparents'. Frank's dogs Cisco and Cody, are quite interested in the new house guest. A quick bath and some dinner will hold LeDoux until reunion arrangements can be made.

Frank and his good friend and companion, Jim Jones drove 400 miles round trip today effecting the happy reunion. Jim has the saddle experience on similar rides and wanted to meet the Traveler.

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Mangas Mountains

NORTH OF LITTLE ALEGRES MTN IN THE MANGAS MOUNTAINS. May 29, 2007. Day 23. Erin rode out of the Apache National Forest onto county roads through of a stretch of private land. Rua came up lame after only 10 miles. Erin is camped as a guest of Jim S. on his Ranch just north of Mangas Mountain on the road to Pie Town. The best assessment is that Rua has a slightly infected cut which should heal rapidly. Jim and his family have invited Erin to dinner (you guessed it, steak). Tomorrow if necessary they will call for the vet. Jim told Erin "you are more trouble than a lady with a flat tire."

Apache National Forest

APACHE NATIONAL FOREST. May 28, 2007. Day 22. Erin and the crew left the Gila National Forest and crossed SH 12 entering Apache National Forest. Had cell phone service while riding up Forest Service Road with plans to camp at Mangas Mountain (elevation 9691). Saw a small bull elk today.

Monday, May 28, 2007

John Kerr Peak


Erin and the gang made 23 spectacular miles plus a few extra for an unintended side trip when the rock cairns marking the trail were misleading. For most of the day she did "Ride The Great Divide"; for this segment, the trail and the ridge that is The Divide are almost the same. They rode through ancient juniper forest, then Ponderosa and Douglas Fir forest, then upland oak savanah. The animal for the day was the Hooded Oriole. So far no wolves. At dark they turned off the trail to find water at a tank at the southern foot of John Kerr Peak (elevation 8868 ft). Yoakum behaved today.

Sunday, May 27, 2007

Snow Lake


Erin rode 23 miles continuing up the Middle Fork of the Gila and emerging from the wilderness at Snow Lake in the Gila National Forest. A beautiful place. Several humans camped around the lake. North of there she met 3 families camping together with kids. She stopped for a while and you guessed it, she got fed - ham and turkey sandwich, ice cream drumstick and a Margarita Cooler. They gave her Oryx Jerkey for the road. She continued on up forest service road 28 past the Negrito work center eventually camping about a mile south of Eckleberger Hill (elevation 8454 ft). She saw numerous Blue Grosbeaks today; a new bird for her. Surroundings are that of a Ponderosa parkland. Animals cooperating.

Saturday, May 26, 2007

Middle Fork Gila River

MIDDLE FORK GILA RIVER, GILA WILDERNESS. May 24th and 25th, 2007. Days 18 and 19.
On day 18 Erin reluctantly left Jordan Hot Springs behind and continued upstream along the Middle Fork of the Gila River camping a few miles south of Snow Lake and the wilderness area boundary. That night the dang mule "broke into" the grain stores; seeing no reason to hang around camp he took a sight seeing trip up and out of the canyon. Erin awoke to the absence of animals. She tracked them down; they were not impressed by her offers of grain so capture was delayed for hours. She camped at the same spot. Given the mule's (Yoakum) repeated transgressions and his role as ring-leader he will no longer be out of a halter and at night will always be hobbled or on a high line. He cannot be trusted to graze close by. Bad mule.

Thursday, May 24, 2007

Jordan Hot Springs

Erin and the team followed Spring Canyon to the west until reaching the middle fork of the Gila then followed the trail upstream to Jordan Hot Springs. She camped on the high ground across the river from the springs. Although this tends to be a popular spot with hikers she had it all to herself. The river is perhaps 30 yards wide and at most waist deep with many more shallower fords. Trout are easily visible from the bank. The middle fork canyon is 'ridiculously beautiful.' Erin spent the evening writing in her journal. No human contact today.

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

East Fork Gila River

GILA WILDERNESS AREA. May 22, 2007, Day 16. Erin rode into the Gila Wilderness Area today and camped on the East Fork of the Gila River just south of Spring Canyon. The river is modest perhaps a 50 ft wide and shallow with many spots to ford. She saw more Elk.

She got there by travelling north on 150 for about 2 miles, then taking the second trail, Tom Moore trail to the west then zigzagging to the SW to the river.

She ran into a pair of outfitters and their 2 quests. Becky and Daniella are with Gila Hotsprings Outfitters. Erin was invited into their outfitter's cabin (a backcountry private land enclave) and had Beef Stroganoff for dinner.

Monday, May 21, 2007

Over The Great Divide

ALDO LEOPOLD WILDERNESS AREA, May 21, 2007. Day 15. Erin rode 22 miles today -on and over the Continental Divide.

She said goodbye to Fred and Shirley Sova riding northwesterly up the Mimbres River Canyon. After entering the Aldo Leopold Wilderness Area she turned north up Corral Canyon, then to the west up Cooney Canyon and up over the ridge line onto the Continental Divide itself. She rode The Continental National Scenic Trail north northeast over Signboard Saddle (elevation 8500 ft). She veared North northwest onto the Aspen Canyon trail leaving the wilderness area and merging with Black Canyon and eventually camping at the Lower Black Canyon Campground just to the south of Forest Service Rd 150.

There were juniper woodlands, Ponderosa Pine, and Cottonwoods. She saw a small herd of elk and bear tracks. All the streams are flowing; water is plentiful. Temperatures are 40s at night and "pretty hot" during the day.

Layover in Mimbres

MIMBRES, NM. May 19 and 20th, days 13 and 14.


Fred and Shirley Sova are wonderful people. On Saturday Shirley took Erin shopping in Silver City. They went to the feed store, Walmart for a camera media card, and then picked up a new pair of chaps and a shovel (required to carry by law) to replace those lost in Pine Flat Canyon. Also picked up a fleece lined saddle pad for Yoakum. That night these amazing and awesome people fed her again; pork chops and the favorite peach pie. On Sunday rested again (horsewoman and animals). Did some saddle modifications and mapped out the upcoming route for the 2nd leg of the expedition over the Continental Divide and through the Aldo Leopold and Gila Wilderness Areas.

Saturday, May 19, 2007

Mimbres, New Mexico

SOVA RANCH, MIMBRES, NM. May 18, 2007, day 12.

Erin reached her first layover/resupply point last evening. She rode 33 miles; the last few in the dark.

Today she went through Emory Pass (elevation 8228 ft) at Highway 152. She did not tarry long, rapidly seeking lower ground to avoid a spectacular electrical storm. The hail came down rapidly piling up ankle deep; it look like snow covering the ground. She moved north along the border of the Aldo Leopold Wilderness; there were Ponderosa Pine, Douglas Fir, and Aspen. She saw her first Stellar Jay. She bypassed East Canyon to avoid a large tree fall and took the alternate route curling back to the southwest following McKnight Canyon down to highway 35 on the way to Mimbres (pronounced Mimbreeze). There she is the guest of Fred and Shirley Sova at the Sova Ranch north of Mimbres.

Her horses had a corral. Erin had steak for dinner, a hot shower, and a bed to sleep in!

Thursday, May 17, 2007

Sawyers Peak

NEAR SAWYERS PEAK, GILA NATIONAL FOREST, NM. May 17, 2007, Day 11. Rode 17 miles. Erin headed north this AM and noted that the geography did not match where she thought she was. The very recognizable landmark of Thompson Cone was on the west of the trail; it was supposed to be on the east. She determined that she had turned up Pine Flat Canyon instead of continuing up Berrenda Canyon. The trails are often difficult to distinguish. Instead of doubling back, she bushwacked north (very rough going). She found a lucky horse shoe which encouraged her to push on until she intersected Forest Service Rd 886 and turned west until she intersected the main trail. She was reassured by a carved inscription on a post "CDT" (continental divide trail) and some pink marking tape. Back on the main trail she travelled north (towards Canada) along the high ridge of the Mimbres Mountains to the east of Sawyers Mountain (elevation 9600 ft) eventually camping at 9100 ft along the trail.

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Berrenda Creek Trail

BERRENDA CREEK CANYON. May 16, Day 10. After riding 20 miles, Erin is in the mountains; pine and juniper forest. She is on Berrenda Creek Trail due west of Pine Flat Mountain (ele 7822 ft) halfway between Pine Flat Canyon and Berrenda Springs. Challenges for the day were that the county road was frequently gated, often times locked with "posted no trespassing signs" across this county road through national forest land. At one point had to unpack the animals and go backward through a catch corral. Much uncertainty and stress trying to get around gates and fences that were not supposed to be there. Should be straight horsepacking trails for the next 2 to 3 days ride into Mimbres.

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Macho Canyon Ranch

MACHO CANYON RANCH. May 14th and 15th. Days 8 and 9. Erin had 2 frustrating days. Yesterday had animal-reluctance-to-cooperate issues (minor revolt, something about wanting a union) and ended up camping at the same spot. They absolutely refused to be caught. Erin followed them for miles, got a little tired and dehydrated. Actually drank from a stock tank and rested under a juniper, the only tree in sight. Realized she shared the tree with 2 sleepy barn owls. She eventually enticed Rua and Yoakum into the bridle with grain.

Today had to double back and pick up some equipment that escaped packing and got left beside a tank. Rode 11 miles (net). Stopped and asked for directions and advice at a ranch house and ended up staying the night in a barn (5 stars) as a quest of Macho Canyon Ranch, and Hank and Phil Burris (father and son) on the Macho Canyon Rd. The animals had hay.

Tomorrow should cross over to Berrenda Rd and move northwesterly into the Mimbres Mountains.

Sunday, May 13, 2007

Mule Springs Creek

Erin passed through the ruins of Fort Cummings. The trail and guidebook were unclear and she ended up having to backtrack about 3 miles. Passed along the Butterfield Stage Coach Route on her way to a very dry Mule Springs Creek. The windmill there provide ample water for Rua and Yoakum so Erin was glad to share with about 50 head of cattle. The terrain is somewhat less dry - transition from scrub dessert to arid grasslands with the occassional Cottonwood Tree in the dry creek beds.

LeDeux still having foot trouble. He actually rode on Rua with Erin today.

Tomorrow will head northeasterly to intersect Macho Canyon. Will head up this canyon to the northwest to intersect a cross trail to Berrenda Canyon. Will then head up this Canyon and begin some serious horsepacking heading up and over the "high" Mimbres Mountains.

Onward to Mimbres

Spoke with Erin yesterday. She has made good headway to the north of Deming. To leave town she (horse, mule, and dog) took an overpass over IH 10! No big deal. Set out across the desert (temperature in the 90s) on a jeep trail. Along the way a small rattlesnake made his presence known in the standard fashion. LeDeux stayed away; the dog has a lot of sense.

This is a picture of Erin, Rua, and Yoakum outside of Columbus. Credit goes to Kelvin E.Hargrove a professional photographer who took interest, stopped and took this picture.
developed very sore feet; he "lost his boots." Yesterday he managed quite well with impromptu boots made with socks, canvas and duct tape. This will have to do until those soles toughen up.

Camped at a detention damn to the west of Massacre Peak (El. 5667); no water to detain but the local windmill provided plenty of water for the animals. There was 1 tree for shade. She met a husband and wife rancher couple who brought her a roast beef sandwich and provided company.

The country gets progressively more rugged. She will follow the Butterfield Stage Rt, turning north into the Gila National Forest and ride the border of the Aldo Leopold Wilderness. She will gain elevation and the temperature will be cooler. Should take 4 maybe 5 days to reach her next resupply point of Mimbres.

Thursday, May 10, 2007

Deming, New Mexico

DEMING, NEW MEXICO. May 9th and 10th, Day 3 and 4. Erin and the crew arrived at the stock yards in Deming, New Mexico this evening after riding 24 miles. Yesterday was not such a good day. Let's just say that Rua and Yoakum got in very big trouble. They worked it all out and had very good day today. When I spoke with her she was heading off for barbecue; no corn beef hash tonight! Ledeux is sound asleep. His feet are getting sore; he now prefers his doggy boots. Will rest in Deming a day then move on.

Tuesday, May 8, 2007

Erin is underway

COLUMBUS,NEW MEXICO. May 7th and 8th. Days 1 and2. The journey has begun. Yesterday May 7 after pictures at the border near Columbus, New Mexico Erin departed for parts northward. The horse saddled, the mule packed, and the dog mounted with red backpack they set off. Perhaps they were a bit anxious to get started given that Yoakum rolled his pack saddle in the first 5 minutes in full view of several curious onlookers. Very embarrassing. After repacking they set off again only to have Yoakum roll over on his back, requiring another repacking. Later the team got 'pulled over' by the border patrol in the first mile. The exchange was cordial and went something like this. "Little lady where are you headed?" they inquired. "To Canada," she replied. "How far have you come?". "Oh about a mile," she said. "Well have a good trip."

They rode along highway 11 through Columbus where interestingly Erin met the famous teamster mule that starred in Dances with Wolves. Once through Columbus they set off cross country along a jeep trail and camped at the foot of the Tres Hermanas Mountains. Ledoux went right to sleep; he was very tired.

Today they got into a rhythm; travelling north then crossing over Highway 11 to the base of Florida Mountain. Towards late afternoon "the hail from hell" hit. There were very high winds with hail going almost horizontal; with no cover the team "put there butts to the wind and hunkered down. The hail was followed by torrents of rain; so much for the desert. It did solve the days water problems though. Erin did have to rescue Ledoux when he got caught under a gate; he is not used to his back pack yet.

Monday, May 7, 2007

Hittin' The Trail

Zero days until hitting the trail!!!!!!!!!!

All right, so I'm absolutely awful about updating my blog while I'm getting ready for a trip. Let's see how I am once I'm on it ;)

I'm in Las Cruces, New Mexico right now, just about ready to drive to Hachita where a very kind man (the high school boyfriend of one my Montana neighbors), John Robbins, is going to store my trailer and give me a ride the the Mexican border south of Columbus, NM. I'm so excited, I can barely keep from yelling "Yahooooooooooo" at any given point in time.

Wish me luck y'all, and tell the rattlesnakes to keep their distance. I d0n't want LeDoux trying to eat one.

The Crazy Cowgirl