[Cdt-l] Water notes from our NM section hike

bcss at bresnan.net bcss at bresnan.net
Sun May 15 14:04:26 CDT 2011

Thank you, Charlie Thorpe.  This information will help a lot of people.
When we hiked this section it was a normal year and we attempted to make a
judgment about any water we found as to whether it would still have water in
a dry year. If we didn't think it would, we left it off the maps.  This is
probably about as dry as it gets, so this data is extremely valuable.   

best wishes,

Jerry Brown
mailto:bcss at bresnan.net

-----Original Message-----
From: cdt-l-bounces at backcountry.net [mailto:cdt-l-bounces at backcountry.net]
On Behalf Of Charlie Thorpe
Sent: Sunday, May 15, 2011 10:34 AM
To: cdt-l at backcountry.net
Subject: [Cdt-l] Water notes from our NM section hike

Hello All -

WeI started in Cuba in early April and took off the trail in the Gila NF in
early May.  

We became aware of a forest fire (later heard it called the Miller fire) as
we were hiking out of the southern Aldo Leopold Wilderness.  We watched the
smoke go from a drift of white smoke over a ridge to the north west of us to
an explosion of smoke that boiled up like an atom bomb blast (we guessed
then that the fire was fairly close to us and had crowned).

The wind was strong and coming from what seemed to be the general direction
of the fire, but we assumed that we were out of the direct path of the wind
blowing from the fire because we couldn't smell smoke at that point.  We did
a lot of head banging where the trail splits in Signboard Saddle (older CDT
route goes to the south), but we elected to stay on the "official" route
trending to the northwest (seemingly more toward the fire) because we were
out of food and we had a resupply stashed where that route crossed FS150
(now NM 61).

We pigged out on our resupply food and bedded down near the road so that we
could get fire info from any passing vehicles (noticed two pickups during
the night, weren't fast enough to contact either).  We woke up at first
light and decided to walk out south on FS 150 because we had started
smelling smoke by then and were getting twitchy.  My trail partner is a
volunteer firefighter in ID - he felt strongly that it would be bad form for
an ID volunteer firefighter to get burned up in a NM forest fire...

We ended up making our way around the Gila Wilderness (FS 150, NM 35, NM 15)
as we started getting better info on where the fire actually was (SW of the
cliff dwellings) and what the FS expected it to do in the next few days (big
winds, pulling in hot shot crews from all over, not sending in the crews
until the winds died down, expected the fire to move rapidly as it got into
areas not previously burned over, etc.).  Ended up going entirely around the
Gila Wilderness to Silver City.

I am guessing that our water observations might be of most use to
northbounders this time of year, so I will list them in the reverse order
that we actually hiked, starting with the southern Aldo Leopold WA (the last
location where we were actually hiking on the official route as marked on
the new CDTA maps).  We lost our only pen after Pie Town and were no longer
able to make notes on our maps, so the observations given here are the best
we both can remember (did not add an observation to the list if we couldn't
remember it or if we are still arguing about it...):

Map 30 - Aspen Spring (didn't find water, didn't spend a lot of time
looking, spent more time nervously watching smoke)
		14.7 Squeaky Spring (excellent water, apparently was the
improved/protected water source for the old lookout tower on Reeds Peak)
		17.9 Small puddles in the creek bed 
		18.3 Reeds Meadow (did not check droplet marking location to
the west, found water in elk hoofprints in the lower meadow)
Map 31	23.6 Diamond Spring (didn't hunt for water here, did see a slow seep
in a muddy bank along the trail)
Map 32	33.0 Puddles in the creekbed at a few locations (good water, didn't
seem to be much there)
Map 33	34.5 Chloride Creek (two small potholes in solid rock where the
creekbed narrows into a gorge, heavy wildlife use, good water)
		  3.7  Rain Tank (didn't see it, no rain in recent history
so didn't hunt for it, area burned by fire)
Map 34	15.1 No local water - ran into outstanding hospitality from Jack
Diamond (owner of the property marked "Kline Ranch" to the east - more about
this in another message)
Map 37	Wahoo Tanks (dirt tanks, dry)
Map 39  A little over a mile south of mile 6.5 on the official trail (down
doubletrack along fence line) - North Garcia Windmill (****absolutely the
BEST water on the CDT in NM - at least 10,000 gallons of good clear water
piped into a huge open steel tank from a well that was apparently drilled as
an oil well.  Somebody has done a great engineering job allowing wildlife
and cattle easy access to the water without allowing them to pollute it.
Saw three different herds of elk, two different herds of antelope, all kinds
of song birds, and a fuzzy ton of rabbits during the half hour we were
there.  No cows.  Am puzzled why the CDT isn't routed right by it (didn't
see any "Posted" signs).   Worth hiking to just to marvel at even if you
don't need water in this very dry stretch of trail!*****)
Map 41	21.9  Batton Pond (large dirt tank, plenty of water with plenty of
elk wading around in it, should be good for a swim when not freezing temps)
Map 42	Green Tank (large dirt tank, lots of water, didn't need any when we
walked down to it, but it looked good for both drinking and swimming)
Map 43  Mesa Redonda Spring/Tank (dirt tank - dry, good water in small
spring pond, owner building house w/solar-powered well nearby - more in
later message)
Map 44   7.5  Divide Tank (dirt tank - dry)
Map 47	G.C. Tanks (dirt tanks, assume "GC" means "Game Commission" or "Game
Control" or some such,  all GC Tanks that we checked were dry)
		Pit Tank (dirt tank - dry)
Map 48	More G.C. Tanks (dirt tanks, all that we checked were dry)
		We did a water stash where the trail crosses NM 12 so we
didn't need to hunt for water there, but we noticed a home place north of NM
12 and to the east of the trail that looked like it might be a good chance
to yogi water 
Map 50 16.3 Upper Cat Tank (dirt tank, some thick water in bottom, turkey
hunters had blinds set up at it)
Map 51 17.5 Lower Cat Tank (dirt tank - had a lot more water than Upper Cat
Tank and no turkey hunters)
Map 52	Private tank near road (steel tank, looks like it has well water
piped to it from nearby home place, dry when we passed)
Map 54	Toaster House and nearby RV park - free hiker hostel (donations
gratefully accepted at both locations), kitchen, showers, hand laundry,
etc.)  Everybody in Pie Town knows where it is - it's hard to miss.  Be sure
to hug trail angel Nita (owner) when you get there!  Outstanding pie up at
the  Pie-O-Neer Cafe just east of the Post Office on US 60 at the top of the
hill - bang on the door if the "Closed" sign is up...they are VERY
Maps 54-73  We stashed water and one resupply along 117 (preferred cutoff
through the York Ranch)...I absolutely hate blacktop roadwalks and have
started boycotting them when I have the option (the stretch south of Rabbit
Ears Pass in CO was the straw that broke this camel's back...this 117
stretch is a close second).
Map 77	We took an alternate route over Mt. Taylor and found no water
anywhere along that route north of the top.  There was plenty of
consolidated snow when we got high, so we melted snow for drinking water.
		We were looking for water coming down the SW side of Mt.
Taylor and ran into a brand new dirt tank constructed by NM F&W (UTM  13 S
255584 3897382) with plenty of water.
Map 79	26.0  Antelope Tank (dirt tank, plenty of water)
Map 80     6.8  Ranger Tank (dirt tank with water, don't remember how full
it was)
Map 82	17.9  Los Indios spring (piped into two steel/cement tanks,
excellent water, great camping location for a small army up on plateau just
to the west of the spring) Very pleasant spot that is absolutely worth the
short off-trail hike to get to it.
Map 83	Barrel spring (in a fit of laziness we decided not to hump water up
the steep trail to the mesa top - took us three hours to find Barrel spring,
get water, and make our way back to the trail - two steel tanks with good
water, but VERY rough bushwhacking even with GPS coordinates).  I would
definitely carry water up from Ojo Fria and skip Barrel spring next time
		Ojo Fria Tank (steel/cement tank, good water...MUCH better
choice than Barrel spring, especially for nobo's who will be sailing
downhill to this tank <g>)
Map 85	20.4  Private flowing well (steel tank up on top of knoll, big tire
protecting valve box, good water...wind so strong when we were there that it
blew my pack off of the tire...)

In general, we found Jerry's water droplet markings on the CDTA maps to be
useful for planning and I only recall one that was apparently completely dry
(it could easily have been that we just didn't find the water source...we
only hunted for a half hour or so).  I am guessing that this was the droplet
at 19.4 on Map 31 (grassy area, trail followed right side of creek bed
hiking south), but neither of us remember that particular location well
enough to be sure.

I hope that these notes will be of use to someone.  We both agree that next
time we will carry an extra pen (one to loose, one to write with) so that we
can better record our observations on all of the marked water sources on our

Good hiking!

- Charlie Thorpe and Paul Bucca

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