New Mexico Bliss in the Gila Wilderness (1 Viewer)

NewMexicoJim

High mileage, good condition, needs TLC.
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Joined
Sep 9, 2019
Messages
54
Location
Mimbres, NM
I have just returned from two weeks in the wilderness to see the world on fire. Guess I'll be heading back soon as people all around are acting weird, angry and fearful. The Gila National Forest is immense. One hundred miles across from any direction, there is isolation in abundance.

I left Belen with my trusty travel trailer in tow, determined to find a better route to Snow Lake, in the Gila high country. I headed south on I25 and exited at NM52. Heading west for 40miles or so, I arrive in Winston, once a mining town, now catering mostly to hunters, ranchers and tourists. This is the last store for the next 130 miles so I gas up before heading into the forest. The road gains elevation quickly and pretty soon I'm cruising through beautiful ponderosa pine forests at 7000' altitude, still on pavement on the Geronimo Scenic Byway. After about 40 miles the pavement ends at Beaverhead, a small crossroad in the forest. So far, I"ve traveled about 3 hours to get here and this is where the fun begins. The road is decent and graveled for another 10 miles and then the maintenance ends and I slow to a crawl for about another 15 miles which takes about another 3 hours as the road is full of softball sized rocks, ruts and hairpin turns going up and down the rugged mountains. Finally, the road improves for the last 5 miles or so and I descend into a bowl-shaped valley. Snow Lake was built in the 60s as a recreation and fishing spot and is one of the most remote and beautiful places one can reach by vehicle in the USA. The lake is one of the headwaters of the Middle Fork Gila River. Some 30 miles downstream through twisting, vertical canyons, the 3 forks converge at the Gila Cliff Dwellings where people lived and farmed over 1000 years ago.

The campground was closed due to you-know-what but I'm fully equipped to boondock off grid so I pass by the lake and about a half mile north I find a great little camp under some Ponderosa pines. My cats were pissed at being tossed about on the 6 hour trip but quickly forgave me when I put out some food and water. Waking up the next morning I found ice in my water bottle which I had left in the truck. Mornings here in the high country are cold and glorious. The temp gradually warms up to about 78 and stays that way all day. I hiked, fished, ate too much, smoked a ton of weed and had many great naps.

Here are a few pics of my latest adventure. If anyone is coming this way, hit me up for the grand tour.

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I was tired but happy when I woke the next morning.

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Driving down to the lake, I noticed a bright white spot in the tallest tree....

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Bald Eagles normally only spend the winters in this part of the country before heading north for the summer. It was still early spring at this altitude and the fishing was good. I actually saw it swoop down on the water and scoop up a fish before flying off into the forest. I haven't seen that since living in Alaska a lifetime ago.

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Serene and isolated, Snow Lake is a great place to get away from it all.
 
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