The Burro Mountains - May 4
We ended up skipping the 32 mile section through Lordsburg and along the road which was a heavily traveled one. The Gold Hill section had absolutely no gates for horses and we were both tired of that situation so we trailered up to Burro Mountain RV Resort. The CDT is only a mile from that and we used all the hookup, laundry and showers to our advantage. Lots of hot water was real treat! We rode south on the CDT and found the views of the valley spectacular and well worth the climb to over 8,000 on Burro Peak to see them.
The trail was wooded and although challenging it was a relief not to be under the hot sun all the way. There were horse agreeable gates and other then really keeping tabs on who was the last to dismount and open the gates we easily passed the 12.8 miles. I have to say that I used my bun knee to great advantage in the gates situation and Sandy graciously opened many more gates than her share.
Bar J Boarding to Loco Mountain at Snow Lake
We traveled to Jeanette’s boarding farm to find that her farm had been included in the fire which burned the surrounding area as well as many of her barns. Both horses did have a corral with shed and were happy enough to just lull around as we drove to the Gila Cliff Dwellings to cache and to get first had information about the Miller Fire
which was in the direct line of our travel tomorrow. Much to our disappointment the fire had grown from 15,000 acres to 25,000 in just two days and that the forest service felt we shouldn’t try to get through from our planned route. By the time we left the area we both had headaches and realized the even if we could have gotten through we would not have been able to stand the smoke for 3 or 4 days travel.
With this disappointment we packed up and trailed to Loco Mountain at the Aeroplane Mesa trailhead which had corrals and was well marked going south into the Gila River at the Middle Fork. What an adventure! It had reminiscences of the Pacific Crest Trail with the switchbacks going from 8,300 feet to 7,000 in less then 4 miles. The travel along the Middle Fork was just another world with the looming canyon walls and strangely wonderful formations hanging precariously from over head cliffs. There are a reported 85 river crossings and I lost count after 25 or so. We headed to “The Meadows” a large grassy area to camp but found the wind and the horses making us want to look for a camp site sooner.
We settled on a nice flat open area but the wind howled and we couldn’t set up our tents so we moved on to a more protected spot where the trees were closer and the large boulders gave us ample reprieve from the wind. We set up camp, fed and watered the horses and turned in by 7:30 but by 12 Issy let me know he was hungry and even Megan had pawed a big hole under her high line. Sandy must have been tired as she slept right through my midnight horse feeding only to have me awake her at 4 to catch Megan who decided to meander around searching for grass much to Issy’s aggravation. Still with the night interruptions the camp was very pleasant and we relaxed having coffee and breakfast by 6 Am.
We headed back up the Gila River enjoying the same cliffs but from the opposite direction and seeing much we had missed on the trip in.
We got word from the Ranger that the Miller Fire had grown to over 50,000 acres and that we were very lucky we weren’t in there trying to escape it’s furry from the 60 mile per hour winds driving it.