Day 9: Silver City to Sheep Corral Canyon, ~22.5 miles, ~167 miles total
This morning it was time to get back on trail. And since the CDT goes right through Silver City, I couldn’t resist stopping at Three Dog Espresso for an americano and breakfast burrito. Great coffee! And such nice women running the shop. I feel that EVERYONE we meet in New Mexico is incredibly happy and nice. There is something about this state.
Back to trail a la road, Gabriel and I walked out of town. Along the way we started devising a study to determine the most likely vehicle/person combo to give us a wave. Turns out there are a lot of variables to consider! And a lot of people wave to hikers; particularly truck drivers. The study devising ate up the road miles and soon enough we were back in the Gila National Forest.
Such beautiful country, even along the roads(!), oaks, junipers, pinyon pines, and ponderosa. We gently meandered red, twisting forest roads until early afternoon. A couple of raindrops even fell on us, not enough to get us or the ground wet. Too bad, the Gila and pretty much all of New Mexico is in a severe drought.
We descended the road to a wide bending canyon, Horseshoe Bend. With its grassy floor and junipers, hoodoos rising high above us the landscape turned magical.
We watched coatis cross pools of sometimes flowing Bear Creek (here here for the hyporheic zone!). We meandered up gorgeous wooded oak canyons. These are seemingly still, quiet places. Our footsteps cushioned by a forest floor of oak leaves and Ponderosa needles. Soft light filtering to the ground. As we hiked up out of one canyon we found ourselves in a vast garden of red and pink rock. Hoodoos. Terraced rock out croppings. Hedgehog cactus, century plants and cholla amid alligator juniper. This land is beautiful and invites one to slowdown. Stop. Savor. Explore. We poked around some. But this area warrants days, weeks, a lifetime. I plan to come back.
In the evening, as we hiked out of Sycamore Canyon we met Doug and Adrian. Gila locals. Doug has lived on a private inholding for 15 years and knows well the details of springs, old mining claims, and the tribes that lived here. Adrian is a cattle rancher with a Forest Service lease on the grass, he was out this evening looking for a neighbor’s lost cattle. Both men know, love, and depend on the Gila Country for their livelihood. Meeting them enriched the day. Gabriel and I were once again struck by the magic, of seemingly-chance encounters that occur with far greater frequency, when one journeys by foot.
A few more miles up trail, we encountered the first Douglas-fir of the (~mile 164)! Far ranging species and most reminiscent of home. Another good friend to meet while walking.
Up and over a pass, we looked back at the amazing country we’d just had the opprtunity to meet. Turkey Flats and Devils Garden, were now in the distance. I promised myself I’d come back.
We headed down Sheep Corral Canyon and camped amid gamble oak and ponderosa. Soft comfy duff. Lovely to watch the sunset through the trees as we ate our dinner in the forest.
A note from the shady corner of Doc Cambells’ porch that is closest to an outlet and the wifi:
Sorry if there is sometimes a backlog. I find that at night, I’d rather watch the bats flicker about or track the stars as they move through the sky rather than look at a little glowing screen. Hence, there will be lag time in posts from time to time.