Coyote to Cuba, New Mexico thru San Pedro Parks Wilderness -June 2009
Garmin Waypoints For This Hike
I’ve always enjoyed the “Two Schools of Thought” cliché! As an ancient Club Professional/Tennis, I’m out there backpacking for the leg strength! So, that when I came up with a 50 lb pack ..I stopped counting after 31 lbs. until I got back home..then weighed! I’m now very grateful that I was about to do this excursion on the Continental Divide Trail from Coyote to Cuba, New Mexico ..some 19 miles and thru the San Pedro Parks Wilderness ..with nearly all lifes’ essentials for comfort in the back country!
We felt that this leg of the CD-T would be at least 17.5 mi and as much as 25 mi ..depending upon where it was easiest for Gabriela to extract us. It was to be a 3 day/2 night excursion with LOTS of ascent and LOTS of descent. The we was my-own-self ..and Steve Ginsberg, noted Journalist (much of his 30 years of back country experience to chronicle environmental issues on many continents); and also Club Professional/Tennis!
Our beginning point NOT the trail head for this hike, but about 2.5 miles distant, as I wanted to begin where we’ll also begin for our September excursion on the CD-T from Coyote to Ghost Ranch
, NM. About 8 miles NW of the Village of Coyote on FR103 ..as it intersects the newly posted CD-T. This section in the Coyote RD newly “blazed”..with much of the work overseen by Evelyn Lujan ..to whom we were very grateful for not only a great job ..but logistics support. We began at just over 7,500 ft elevation. Our first waypoint, Cecilia Springs, the actual Trailhead ..was relatively friendly ..the trail RARELY used but blazed well:
Creeks for trout fishing:
..Thick forest ..well posted:
..with tons of fresh deer, elk, bear AND Mtn Lion tracks (see video). As we entered into the approx 9,000ft elevation range and after about 4mi of hiking, our bodies now accustomed to their pack weights..and the views became broad and spectacular: Sierra Negra
in the haze..near NMO ..some 30 miles of in the distance!! Hawks circled on the updrafts:
..and at about 5mi in..time for lunch and navigational confirmations:
Our next goal of entering the San Pedro Parks Wilderness ..realized:
..the Trail Blazes became more interesting:
And we kept an open mind to finding a campsite in the upper 9K ft elevations ..BUT striving for the primary of reaching the San Pedro Peak ..OR even the SP Parks Peaks (not classic peaks up there): The ONLY person we saw in the San Pedro Parks Wilderness ..we met on the trail at about 10, 200 ft ..Dillon (see video) who was marching, ultra light (17lbs) ..from Mexico to Canada on the CD-T! We found a great, previously cut camp at 10,300 ft, overlooking Gallina Canyon and just under San Pedro:
As we had our dinner..and had an evening campfire
..we felt great and confident that we could backpack the approx 10 miles to a nice ..other side extraction point..cutting the excursion by a day!
With Steve fast asleep, the sun set ..I gazed up out of my tent at the Big Dipper, above ..but with a still lighted sky at about 9:30pm. All of a sudden..I heard off, perhaps 100 yards or so..a crashing and trashing in the forest..and before my mind could say ...
...”OMG..it’s coming this way” ..and a beast flew over my tent ..screaming!!! I screamed!!..and sat up and exclaimed..
“Steve” ..who was saying..
“YOU woke me up“!
“Didn’t you hear or see that?”
..He said..“You’re dreaming”.
I said..“Maan..I haven’t been asleep at all …you’ll see those tracks in the morning”!..of the chase I had witnessed!
He said..”There won’t be any tracks”.
After now looking up and watching a bit of the almost full moon..I dozed off, exhausted! Waking early, I admit HOPING there’d be those tracks..and that was my first move. Indeed:
AND..these two were the best tracks:
..and I invited Steve to survey them..and with his 30 yrs back country experience ..to assess what had happened here last night.
I moved away..and Steve ..scratching his chin said..
“With my experience…I would say that it is likely that a mountain lion chased a small deer thru our camp last night”
I’m sure many armchair outdoorsmen’ll wanna debate these tracks! :J~
With LOTS of coffee, now, and the most exhilarating feeling of now being in shape..pack feeling lighter..and the chase last night ..which folks..lasted from beginning to end 1 ½ seconds ..we head off! Beginning a 5-7 miles at 10,500ft..before descent:
..the overviews spectacular (this one Cerro Pedernal
) and the meadows huge and lush: ..the endorphins kicking in on top of the caffeine made me run my mouth too much ..and I’m sure scaring off all the wildlife (Dillon had spotted herds of Elk). BUT we saw loads of fresh tracks ..Elk..Mule Deer and Black Bear (see video)..the meadows seemed almost endless..and lush! This meadow by the Rio Puerco actually a swamp with thousands of frogs an acre:
Finally..it was time to head back into the heavy forest and descend up to 5 miles:
Cuba..above from above 10,000 feet elevation with all the descent to come.
The forest was soo thick ..believe it or not..in this pic there are 10 cattle and 3 authentic Caballeros (Spanish/American Cowboys) ..doing it the traditional way..diving them to upper meadows!
After chatting with them awhile..we make the final descent to the trailhead for extraction (see video)!
I recommend this excursion very highly! Pretty much all levels ..due to the great work done by the Cuba/Coyote RS of the US Forest Service! Lots of water and wildlife..but treat the water! Camp where others have camped, don’t cut new trails ..and “leave no trace”. Dan
Coyote to Rio Chama Wilderness and Ghost Ranch (September 5th-12th 2009)
Just on the Western side of Coyote, and indeed the Coyote Ranger Station we’ll embark thru a completely different type of landscape! Whereas the Coyote to Cuba is much Ponderosa Pine, the trek thru the Rio Chama Wilderness and to Ghost Ranch is high desert with much red rock and dry washes with amazing formations. It could get very toasty in Summer, so we’re taking the opportunity to do the excursion nearer Fall. With glimpses of Georgia O’Keeffe’s beloved Cerro Pedernal ..also a great geographic landmark ..it’s famous Flat Topped persona from this angle is more a “Cabezon” (nipple):