Gila-Land (1 Viewer)

Wawa

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These are from back in the spring, when I spent about a month in the Gila Wilderness in Western New Mexico. I'm having a hard time pulling up a good story - all I did was walk forever and look for food. More interesting to live then talk about, but I do want to share these pictures, so....

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Dusk at Goose Lake. Yes, the puddle bears that name.

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Wolf paws.

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A cuddly hornytoad!

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Wild Strawberries.

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Ponderosa and Sycamore.

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Along the Gila River herself, meadows, forests, sageflats are all sunk down into a deep gorge, 800-1000ft walls protecting it all from casual incursion. Near Saparillo creek the walls are reddish, giving the cedar and spruce forest a pastel purple light.

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In other places, the river-bottom forest is silver with young cottonwood and sycamores.

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Abundant swimming holes on the main form of the Gila!

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Dodging thunderstorms every day.

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Climbing out of the main fork.

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Granny Mountain summit.

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On the way out for supplies and hot spring soaks, the storm caught up with me. I powered through it to avoid getting cut off by flash floods... By the time I made it to the pavement that night, the footpath was water to my ankles and I had to periodically find cover from large hailstones.
 
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Wawa

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The lovely hot spring campground behind the Gila Ranch in "town". Pretty much the only private hot spring I ever go to; the owners have kept it simple, peaceful, and cheap.

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First night back in the wilderness, on the middle fork this time. Didn't make it far back before a storm came, so I made camp in a smoke-black natural shelter over a shallow hot spring. Thunderstorms all night, with smoke from my fire and steam from the water below rising into the rain.

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Middle fork Gila scenery. Less pines, more cottonwoods. Shallower river and narrow, steep canyon walls.

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Long steep climb up the gorge...

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My most spectacular camp ever, 800ft over the middle fork, watching vultures float over the river and roost in the trees still far below me. Sat stunned on a cliff edge until the sun set, then ate town-run treats.

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Next morning found this cabin. The door was heavily padlocked, but ain't stopping me from chilling on the porch and sewing bags for my foodstuffs, clothes drying on a hitching post, solar panels out and stream water filtering. It's high performance chilling.

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Big pines on the high plateous. Spent a few days up here hunting for springs(some) and squirrels(fail) before climbing down to the much smaller west fork of the Gila.

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Deep cool rocky pools on the west fork! It must have been 105 degrees out. I spent nearly all day here, fishing, dunking, and lounging naked in the sun.


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Next few days I climbed up to the high, burned out peaks in the western edge of the Gila wilderness. Very little human traffic out there since the trails are a wreck and the big trees and mostly dead, but it's thick with young Aspen, bear, and elk. I saw more wildlife up here then along the river.
 

Wawa

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One last post... FOOD!

My goal, if I can be said to have one, was to learn to better provide for myself in the woods. The Gila, even away from the river forks, is pretty lively and green compared to some of the places I spend my time(like death valley....).

Still, it was really hard! Small game was scarce. Rabbit snare wires failed, I suck at slingshot, the closest I got to trapping anything was having some creature take the bait from a deadfall without triggering it...

I probably spent eight hours combined, up to my knees or waist is pondmuck, trying to catch frogs. Huge, huge bullfrogs. For days, no luck... But I got over some of the fear of plunging into deep mud, sticking my hands and feet in dark strange places. For this I was rewarded with tender cattail roots and a few small, cornered catfish.

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Town-food, inspired by the southwest. Cornmeal mush with salt, cornmeal mush with cinnemon, and a pot of yams, millet, wild greens.

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My first catch, a tiny catfish stranded in a puddle. It still took a lot of corraling to get him! To anyone wondering if such a small thing is even worth the food... YES. It was amazing. Let's see you turn down such a solid nugget of meat after a week of corn mush and millet.

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A meal I am very proud of: Two tiny catfish and a perch I caught by hand, good tender cattail roots, fried goosefoot and nettle. It's cooked in lard that I rendered(over a hidden fire in a town park...) from frozen dumpster bacon trimmings. Only store bought thing is the garlic and salt stuffed in the fish. The pan I found hanging in a tree.

GROUND SCORE COW.
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Yes, I really did find a cow. A feral bull, actually. I was exploring the area near my camp on the river, and heard dogs and gunshots. Without my pack I felt extra light and stealthy, and followed the hunters for a bit... Eventually I stood by the path to talk to them. They were rounding up feral cattle to get them off the river, but one old bull had been too much to handle and they shot him... So I got directions and just had time to fill up a hatful of whatever I could hack off and get back to my camp before dark.

Old, tough, adrenalin filled bull beef isn't very tasty, but it filled a need and I stuffed myself with it. The only tender, tasty bit was his balls. I skinned the sack and brought back one ball, which was quite a lot to eat but not bad at all.

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Skinned ball. I ain't kidding.

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After my supply run, my luck got better with frogs. I started watching then a bit more critically, and noticing when they'd swim into a dead end. I caught one that was either guarding or eating eggs, and two that were mating. They where all nice and big, with enough meat on them to eat the arms, too.

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Tadpoles are much easier to catch. I noticed enormous, lethargic bullfrog tadpoles that seem to collapse in on themselves and die when pulled out of the water. Their tails are boneless and give a chunk of mild-tasting meat the size of a chicken nugget, and there were hundreds in every pool and puddle.

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On supply run, I got a small telescoping rod, but not much else. Throughout the day I'd slap flies and stick them in a pouch for bait. Here I used a fish lung for a bobber, which helped to catch two more fish.

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A full meal, legal-size-and-everything brown trout that I caught with a smashed bug on my cheapie Walmart rod. After making do, with gratitude, for every tadpole, edible plant and finger sized catfish I could put in my mouth, I nearly fell in the pool from the shock of seeing this. Carried the gutted fish, salted and stuffed with garlic, in a wet pouch on my belt all day feeling top of the world until I could make camp by the next water source and cook it. Biggest meal of the whole trip!
 
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Dmac

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Great pictures! I spent about a week there a while back. Looks like you stayed away from the touristy cliff dwellings (that's the area I was in mostly). It was this time of year when I was there too, god it was hot.
 

Eng JR Lupo RV323

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I'm having a hard time pulling up a good story

Then proceeds to tell an awesome story through photos and anecdotes. If you're ever just feeling like you could use a half million dollars, I'm pretty sure there's a show on the history channel called Alone that pays that kind of bread to more or less do the shit you're doing already.
 

Wawa

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One more picture, coz I always get a kick out of it when I crawl out of the woods or get real extra train-fresh then find myself in front of a mirror...


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"So..... Do I wash... Or something?"
 

Multifaceted

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This thread is incredibly inspiring in the fact that this is the independence I dream of, displayed perfectly by another female.

Earlier this summer I learned that bullfrogs will bite anything that annoys them. Fruitless fishing amongst hundreds of those dudes croaking away led me to dropping my fish-wrapped hook upon them repeatedly. Rather than leave they'd just get frustrated and bite it. Funny little guys, they are.
 
D

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well I'll probably be looking at this post more than once over next few months. so awesome. ever think of making jerky from that bull? sun drying possible in drier climes. also large victor rat traps can be pretty effective for squirrels and ground squirrel. cheap and fdecently light. I've snagged a few gray squirrels with em. very awesome. I like seeing another who imbibes in just walking and living off what is scavanged and spending little and trying to get a little distance from the system.
 

Wawa

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well I'll probably be looking at this post more than once over next few months. so awesome. ever think of making jerky from that bull? sun drying possible in drier climes. also large victor rat traps can be pretty effective for squirrels and ground squirrel. cheap and fdecently light. I've snagged a few gray squirrels with em. very awesome. I like seeing another who imbibes in just walking and living off what is scavanged and spending little and trying to get a little distance from the system.

I brought back about three pounds of meat, planning staying in camp the next day to dry it(perfect dry climate with few flies), and go back to the carcass with my sharper knife and get some better cuts.... But after eating most of what I brought back, I was done with it. The meat I started drying, I threw to the crows.

It just tasted nasty, man. I heard several shots, and found multiple holes in the bull. I think he didn't die easily... And while I like game meats, this was just over the top. Even a little bit of it in rice made the whole dish taste kinda sickly sweet.

That being said, I think I really needed the protein and iron, and felt way energized :)
 

Wawa

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This thread is incredibly inspiring in the fact that this is the independence I dream of, displayed perfectly by another female.

Earlier this summer I learned that bullfrogs will bite anything that annoys them. Fruitless fishing amongst hundreds of those dudes croaking away led me to dropping my fish-wrapped hook upon them repeatedly. Rather than leave they'd just get frustrated and bite it. Funny little guys, they are.

Yeah, when I came out for supplies I googled frog catching and learned that you can catch em with a hook and string! As wary as they seem, I wouldn't have guessed.

On the upside, I guess I learned more doing it the hard way!
 

Eng JR Lupo RV323

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Oh about those cheapie Walmart rods.. you can easily take the price tag off the cheap ones and put them on the nicer ones. Pick a cashier who wouldn't know the first thing about fishing poles. Even the second stop at the door chances are they're just looking for an item count on the receipt. Never more in depth than something that resembles a code that might stand for fishing rod. Nobody should have a cheapie rod, it's just too easy to get a nice one for the cheap ones price.
 

VikingAdventurer

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Oh about those cheapie Walmart rods.. you can easily take the price tag off the cheap ones and put them on the nicer ones. Pick a cashier who wouldn't know the first thing about fishing poles. Even the second stop at the door chances are they're just looking for an item count on the receipt. Never more in depth than something that resembles a code that might stand for fishing rod. Nobody should have a cheapie rod, it's just too easy to get a nice one for the cheap ones price.

Holy shit, I never thought of this.

I just bought one of those cheapie fishing poles from Walmart last week.

I think I'm gonna go buy myself another "cheapie" pole in a few days, then!
 
D

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Haha thread turns into great tips. Yeah slow death I read before releases certain chemicals that taint meat plus being a bull his levels of hormones or whatever can make meat weird, also if he was old. Also overlooking those tracks again. The toe pads are quite rounded. I dare say cougar honestly. Anyone else surmise this maybe? As well @Wawa what do you normally keep for dry goods? My go to is typically ole rice and lentils and a boullion cube if possible
 

Rob Nothing

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haha, ground score cow xD. . . very well formatted/written.. n so hawt.

fantasized about the gila wilderness for a long time after rando dude joined and posted about it a couple years back, and about fishing liscenses, trapping etc.

you mustve pawned the collapsible bike and hitch.. ? thats a long trek afoot for a shorty with all that on her back. put my long hauls to shame I think.

happy trails
 

Taylor Werner

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Thank You Forever. I admire your pictures and your journey. The Gila is my favorite place on earth, and the San Francisco hot springs have been pretty significant in my personal story. If I ever manage to create a little homestead where I can/want to stay, I hope for it to be in the Gila, somewhere not too many hours from Silver City. <3
 

Odin

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Poor bull... How undignified... Skinned sack n blue ball pilfered by a bad ass wild carnivorous girl!

How did you prepare said testi? Roasted & sliced diagonally with a garnish?

:) seriously great thread... Photos.. Thanks.
 

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