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CDT – Part 1

Monday, December 24th, 2018

The Continental Divide Trail is one of the US’s National Scenic Trails, and at 3100 miles is longer than either the Appalachian Trail or the Pacific Crest Trail. It is also said to be considerably more difficult, largely because of how remote it is. Many stretches have no settlements, no road access, and no water. (For a good book about this, see Where the Waters Divide: A 3,000 Mile Trek Along America’s Continental Divide by Karen Berger and Daniel R. Smith.)

We are lucky to have access to this trail less than an hour from our house. In fact, its start at the Mexican border isn’t far from here. We also pass a trail crossing on our way to Silver City. We have thought about hiking parts of this many times, but for one reason or another, we hadn’t — until yesterday.

The closest trail access to us is where it crosses Highway 9 east of Animas. We parked there and walked south about 6 miles or so and back. It was a beautiful day, and we enjoyed the hike.

One pleasant surprise is that the trail, while not always easy to see itself, is extremely well marked with signs every 100 yards or so. I don’t know if this it true everywhere along the trail, but it made the trail here simple to follow, which is often not the case for trails here.

Hiking this trail made me revisit a long-held fantasy of through-hiking a long trails. A couple years ago, while waiting for a train from Lordsburg, I met a guy who had been hiking the CDT. He was ex-military, in good condition, and thought he was ready for the task. He made it to about Silver City before having to be rescued. This trail is not for the unprepared. Lack of water and extreme heat and cold make it very challenging.

I don’t know if I’ll ever hike a trail like this in its entirety, but I am definitely looking forward to future day hikes here and also some overnight backpack trips.

Future places we plan to hike more of the CDT include the north from highway 9, north from the start at the Mexican border (you can drive to the start though it involves 20 miles or so of unpaved back roads), and several places up toward Silver City.

Road trip

Sunday, December 12th, 2010

Last week, Brad and I took a long weekend trip into NM to see the birds at Bosque del Apache, and on the way home, we stopped at the Very Large Array, which is about 45 miles west of Socorro.

It was quite an impressive place, and I’d recommend a visit if you’re ever nearby. They have a very nice visitor center, which is completely unstaffed (a good use of public funds in my opinion). The whole facility apparently runs on a staff of seven, though we saw quite a bit of activity going on while they were there. They also have a self-guided walking tour which is very nice.

While there, I learned that these are radio telescopes, which means that they detect radio emissions from space (and while the film Contact was shot here, they do not actually do SETI work. They did, however, say that if any viable signals were detected, they’d be the first to look further.) There are 27 telescopes arranged in a large Y-shape, which makes up the array. By joining signals, they are able to function together as a much larger telescope. The telescopes move along railroad tracks to form different configurations. Each one also reorients itself fairly often.

Here are some pictures.

Driving home, we went a back way we hadn’t been, west out Socorro and then through Pie Town and Quemado before heading south through Gila Forest. The drive was fabulous, and we also stopped at the Catwalks (more about that another time). Here’s a time lapse movie Brad took on the drive. (If you don’t want to watch the whole thing, go to about 1:10 to see the Very Large Array telescopes moving.)

Exploring the area w/an emphasis on ruins

Sunday, October 31st, 2010

We have had a lot of fun this week exploring various local sites (some of which I listed here before) with my dad.

Highlights included:

Amerind Museum ()

This was a place I’d passed on the highway many, many times and really wanted to visit. With Dad’s interest in Native American history and this being on the way to Casa Grande, the opportunity was ripe.

This was a very nice museum and separate art gallery, both housed in beautiful colonial Spanish buildings. The works here belonged to the private collection of William Fulton, a businessperson and later archeologist, who moved to Texas Canyon, AZ to further his studies.

Casa Grande Ruins ()

These ancient ruins are from the Hohokam culture and feature the “great house,” a four-story high structure housed under a modern shelter to protect it.


Fort Bowie ()

We’d planned to do Fort Bowie in the morning and the Shakespeare Ghost Town in the afternoon, but Fort Bowie ended up being a bigger adventure than we’d thought and we spent all day there.

We hiked to the fort (though I now understand that you can drive there), and it was a beautiful hike through amazing country to get there. After we hiked back (different trail…well worth it), we were famished and had a great picnic lunch.

City of Rocks State Park ()

This was the state park where we camped on the first night of our two-night trip up to Bandelier. It features a large number of upright rocks made from eroded volcanic ash, one of only six geologically similar features in the world.

This place was awesome! Just about every camp site was great. We got in just before sunset and left the next morning, but we’ll definitely be returning to check out the surrounding trails and to spend more time here.

Bandelier National Monument ()

This site of Ancestral Pueblo dwellings has been on my to-do list since the first time we went to Albuquerque, and it met all my expectations plus some. Brad and I even hiked up to the Alcove House, which features a 140 feet climb up four ladders.

In addition to the fascinating ruins, we saw lots of beautiful fall foliage. And the drive both into and out of the part was stunning.

We camped at Jemez Falls campground (which was great) and also enjoyed a nice breakfast in Jemez Springs at the Jemez Stage Stop. (This seemed like a fun little burg to spend a weekend or something.)

Petroglyphs National Monument()

We snuck in a visit to the petroglyphs too on the way home from Bandelier. (These pics are from the last time Brad and I were there.)

We also did a few canyon drives (Horseshoe, Price) while Dad was here and ate a lot of good food.

Local stuff to do

Thursday, October 14th, 2010

Our region is so packed full of unique and interesting natural and historical sites, some of which we’ve visited and others of which are still on our list.

I’ve been thinking about this for two reasons. One is that we are having some visitors here this month. The other is that I am excited about the idea of doing some projects with local school kids around some of these sites. Being a fairly remote location, a lot of kids think it’s boring to living here and that anywhere would be better. On the other hand, a lot of us adults have chosen to live here because it is such an interesting place. Kids here (many of whom have never seen these sites) should get a vision of why it’s a cool place.

So here’s a list of some of the sites, just in case you’re wondering.

Within 2 hours

Chiricahua National Monument
Our favorite…we take every visitor here and never tire of it.

Fort Bowie
Haven’t been there yet but are looking forward to it probably later this month. Update – we’ve been and liked it a lot

Shakespeare Ghost Town
Again, haven’t been there yet…hoping to go for the re-enactment weekend later this month. (I’m leaving Tombstone off this list…I hear it’s grotesquely commercial, and Brad won’t go anyway.) – Update: We’ve been to the Shakespeare ghost town; interesting, a bit touristy, but good if you like this kind of thing….and some day, I want to go to Tombstone; a free beer goes to whoever comes and wants to go with me.

Kartcher Caverns
Haven’t been

Within 4 hours

Gila Cliff Dwellings
See recent post

The Catwalk Trail
Haven’t been (nor to Glenwood), north of Silver City Update: visited briefly; another stop if you go up this way is Pietown

City of Rocks State Park
Near Deming…haven’t been there yet, but maybe this month. Events calendar looks intriguing. Update – we’ve been and liked it a lot

Saguaro National Park
Have driven through it, not sure how much more there is to see

(Also in Tucson is the San Xavier del Bac mission. I think there are other missions around here, especially near El Paso, but I need to research.)

Casa Grande Ruins

Within 6+ hours

Bosque del Apache National Wildlife Refuge
One of my personal favs; see video of the fly out. Brad hasn’t been. We will definitely go again when the bird count gets good this year.

Carlsbad Caverns
Haven’t been


Bandelier National Monument

Petroglyphs National Monument

A bit farther afield (but definitely on the list)

Grand Canyon (8 hours)

Big Bend (8 hours)

I’ll add to this list as new things come to my attention. – Update: a few more things here, here and here.

A little leisure

Tuesday, October 5th, 2010

Last week was crazy here. We spent many hours getting ready for the big open house at the farm. It went great and we had a tremendous turnout, but boy were we tired at the end of it all. (We made something like 50 pizzas, 3 trays of lasagna, salads, bread, 20 or so pies, and cheesecakes.)

We also had our first overnight visitor at the guest house. It was great to have Brad’s mom here, and we put her to work! (I’m a little worried that we are going to get a reputation for working our guests to exhaustion. :)

After all that, we finally made a trip to Gila Cliff Dwellings. Over the past five years or so, we have made several attempts to go there but for a variety of reasons, none have come to fruition.

This park is only about 2 hours from our house, and it is fabulous! We’ve visited several other cliff dwellings, but have seen none like this where they let you actually go into the dwellings themselves. It was great. (The hike to the dwellings is a short one mile round trip.)

These structures were built by the Mongollon people who lived in the area in the late 1200s AD. They apparently only occupied the dwellings for one generation. No one knows exactly why they came or left.  There are six separate caves with 46 rooms.

The area surrounding the park is beautiful country, and we look forward to going camping there in the future.

Link to full size slide show