Saturday, February 22, 2014

US50 Phase 1: Sugarite Canyon NM

Oct 18 Spent most of the day in Sugarite Canyon today.

This canyon is only a few miles east of Raton and runs north into Colorado. The New Mexico portion is a state park and includes the site of an abandoned coal mining town. There is an interpretive trail through the town and, for those willing to take it, yes me included, a spur trail up to a couple of the coal mines themselves. I spent quite a bit of time hiking around up there, mostly because it was pretty interesting but in part because it’s up over 7000 feet and my flat-lander lungs needed the extra time.

To stress my lungs even more I went back down the canyon a ways to Soda Pocket Rd which climbs up to an even higher altitude near the western rim of the canyon. There's a primitive campground of the same name at the end of the road though I guess it's closed for the season since the road is blocked off. Since my map showed a trailhead up there somewhere I parked and jumped the barrier. The  Vista Grande Nature Trail was right where the map said it would be. There was hardly anyone around in the park and I didn’t see anyone at all when I was on this trail, which on one hand is great, but when you are standing there looking at a pile of fresh bear scat and you know there is no one within a mile of you it can get your heart racing. But then again, that was pretty much what it was like all that time I spent hiking in Alaska by myself. So, buck up and get to it.

I have begun thinking about getting a personal GPS for hiking though. Several times now on this trip lack of available maps made hiking a little more risky than necessary and it would have been reassuring to know I could check on where I was and also have a pointer to where I left the van.

Between all the hiking at altitude and periodically scaring the crap out of myself thinking about four-legged trail-mates, I was pretty well wore out by now went back to Raton and checked myself back into the same campsite I was in last night. If you ever find yourself at the Raton KOA in a class B or pickup camper they have a private little site tucked there between one of the cabins and what I take to be a semi-permanent care-taker's site, that is shaded, away from the main camping area, nice and quiet, and convenient to the main building .


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