While disappointed with the no-fishing regulation in the Gila I understand, and accept, the principle of protecting our natural resources. The unique-to-the-area trout had experienced a trauma of some sort (I forget the specifics) in the distant past and the authorities were encouraging a rebound in their numbers. I have to wonder, though, if like so much of Government doings there’s a bit of over-reaction involved. Suppose restrictions on no take at all were reasonably replaced with say, a no take rule within five miles of a road. Allowing backpackers to EARN a couple of fish for supper without damaging the overall resource. Sounds reasonable to me. Alas, reason so often doesn’t factor when dealing with Bureaucracy.
In any event, I set Sheeba’s prow toward Forest Service Road 150, the road coursing the gap separating the Gila and Aldo Leopold Wildernesses. Finding the southern terminus we set out northward. A sign warned of a hundred and twenty miles of no services of any sort. Aha! My cup of tea exactly! The southern reaches of the road climbed very steeply. Upon reaching a stunning bench to the right I spied a close-at-hand herd of mule deer—the first I’d seen on the entire trip thus far. The steep climb levelled out onto an elevated plateau dotted with marvelous meadows on each side. Mountains revealed themselves in the distance in every direction. This was extremely handsome country. Snow patches gave glamour to the rich tableau, like pearls adorning a pretty girl. Voluptuous elevated country to my attuned eye and senses. I knew there were deer here, and certainly abundant small game. And the expansiveness of being elevated—able to view far and wide—hit my beauty receptors dead center. A Westerner will understand when I attempt to paint this scene as not austere in the fashion of Big Bend or much of the Gila, certainly not like the westernmost reaches of Texas or the southernmost flats of New Mexico, but almost lush in terms of high grassy woodlands giving off the aura of game-rich fecundity.
The map indicated the Mimbres River lay a few hundred feet below my plateau to the right. I stowed Sheeba and hiked down to look it over. A mile or so later I reached the river and what a sight it was! There were plenty of grassy spots for pitching my Sawtooth. Firewood was abundant. The stream flowed in the middle of it all, clear and inviting. The fishing prohibition applies to the Mimbres too. Nevertheless, it assures water for the game roundabout and is a fine little river in every regard. It assures water for a rambling man too. One could wander the bench country above—if not the river’s course itself– and drop down to the river for water as needed. I like this corridor of Forest Service land between the Gila and the Aldo very much. I may find myself wandering it afoot someday, despite the fishing prohibition. New Mexico has a great deal of handsome country; I’ve seen a lot of it over the years, all in the northern parts of the state. This particular plot of fine country in the southwest of the state lives up to New Mexico’s moto: “Land of Enchantment” with aplomb.
Next: THE CORRIDOR CONTINUES