Catron County, New Mexico has about 400 miles of paved road, and we're planning to walk every mile of it ... eventually ...

Thursday, April 28, 2005

Hwy 159 to Mogollon is next. Posted by Hello

Highway 180 Completed!

4/28 - We walked the last 4.2 miles on 180 today. Hot and hilly. We celebrated with green chili cheeseburgers and margaritas. Whew! A little margarita goes a long way after two hours in the hot sun. AtC (according to Cynthia) we've walked 48.3 miles in April, and 204.1 so far this year.

Wednesday, April 27, 2005

Non-walking post

Not walking today, just thought I'd post a link to a blog that interests me, in that it's related to accessibility, or "walkability" of certain places. Go to and tell me what you think. Essentially you have a group of urban guerilla artists/activists protesting what I would call elitist practices undertaken by the wealthy to insulate and "protect" themselves from the unwashed masses. For example, the city of LA put a 7' fence around a public park so the homeless couldn't get into it, so the HeavyTrash artists built a stairway over the fence. Their latest project is to build bright orange viewing platforms so that people can see into gated communities. If I lived in one of those gated communities, naturally I'd be pissed as hell, but if I was attempting to walk all the streets of LA and kept bumping into private gates preventing me from walking on what used to be public streets and sidewalks past what used to be public parks, I think my attitude would be a little different. Anyway, I can't imagine wanting to live in a gated community.

"Oh give me land, lots of land, under starry skies above...don't fence me in." I think that was written by Cole Porter, and sung by Bing Crosby.

Monday, April 25, 2005

Back to Luna

4/25 - We went back to Luna to finish off the two paved roads we missed when we walked through here the first time - turned out to be 3.3 miles. Technically, we could have finished the stretch between Alma and Glenwood and had 180 finished today, but it would have bothered me to have loose ends in the town of Luna. Completion and celebratory margaritas moved to Wednesday or Thursday...

Leaning house in Luna, possibly built by original settlers, the Laneys. Posted by Hello

Guinea fowl in Luna Posted by Hello

Sunday, April 24, 2005

Less than 4 miles left between Alma and Glenwood, but Cynthia just pointed out that the town of Luna has about a mile and a half of paved road we missed... Posted by Hello

Caterpillars and Locoweed

Saturday 4/23 - Longest walk yet! 10.1 miles from Gut Ache Mesa Road to the town of Alma! Yes!! Doves, butterflies, mule deer, and two snakes, and lots of wildflowers. I'm really limited in what pictures I can take by my camera, which as I mentioned before is a cheap digital camera/mini-binocular combo - it's a point and shoot with an optimal range of 40 ft or greater. The binoculars are 8x, but the camera is 5x, so what I see is not necessarily what I get. Also, no close ups. If I could have taken close up shots yesterday, I would have taken a few of a mostly decomposed, or should I say dessicated, red fox, not because it was beautiful but because there was something fascinating about the exposed teeth and jaws, which were perfectly white. I would have like to post pictures of the bright red Indian Paintbrush, the white Spreading Fleabane, the orangey Globemallow, the purple NM thistle, the rabbit bush and mullein and Mexican Primrose...these are the ones I could identify, and there were many more I could not.

One low-to-the-ground plant with purple flowers Cynthia identified for me as Locoweed. Apparently, cows get a real taste for this stuff and start acting like drug addicts. I don't know, really, but that's what I've heard. I looked it up in my Audobon Guide, and it looked to me to be a plant called Crescent Milkvetch (astragalus amphioxys.) It has pale swollen looking crescent shaped seedpods which are vaguely offputting, but other than that it's a bright early spot of color by the roadside and I never would have known it was harmful.

The other thing we noticed were some incredibly fast-moving fuzzy caterpillars. They were moving along lickety split like water droplets on a hot skillet - come to think of it, the pavement is getting pretty hot, and I don't know how much longer we're going to be able to take the dogs along, especially if we're now walking 8 or 10 miles in a day instead of 4 or 5.

Less than 4 miles to Glenwood, and Highway 180 will be complete!

Butch Cassidy and other members of the Wild Bunch apparently worked at the WS Ranch in between robbing trains, under assumed names. Posted by Hello

It's mesquite and yucca now, and cottonwoods along the San Francisco river - we're no longer in the tall pines, but have dropped at least 1000' in altitude. Posted by Hello

I believe this may be the only tennis court in Catron County. Posted by Hello

Leaning house north of Alma. Posted by Hello

Bridge built in 1926, fenced off and not maintained but left as a historic engineering site, north of Alma. Posted by Hello

Just a little snow left up on the northfacing slopes of the Mogollon mtns.  Posted by Hello

180 looking south. Looks lonely, but lots of traffic had us jumping into the thorns and stickers by the roadside every few minutes. Muchas motorcycles Posted by Hello

Gut Ache Mesa Road

Friday 4/22 - walked 5 miles from the Saliz Pass down to Gut Ache Mesa Road - a hot and sunny day, and a very nice little walk, but not enough to make it possible to finish Hwy 180 in two days. But that's okay.

Thursday, April 21, 2005

Only 19 miles left now on 180 - can we do it in two days? Well, that's the plan. Posted by Hello

I just liked the way this looked. Posted by Hello

From the scenic overlook at about the 15 mile marker, you can see prescribed fires (Rx fires) happening in the Gila National Forest, over by John Kerr Lookout, about 10 miles south of Aragon. Posted by Hello

Wednesday, April 20, 2005

Second longest walk so far

April 20 - Wednesday - Today we walked 8.1 miles, or possibly a little more. About two miles along we climbed down under the barbed wire to a little babbling brook to let Biscuit wet her paws, and noticed what looked like an old road bed running parallel to the highway. It was cool and shady and much nicer than the pavement, so we walked on it instead. It turned into game trails, and there was bushwacking involved, but we managed to stay about a quarter mile away from the highway for about 5 miles, and the last mile into Luna we had to get back on the road.

According to Larry at the store, and the topo map he has hanging on the wall, we were walking on what used to be a wagon road, and although the little stream wasn't marked, and seldom has any water in it, we were walking in what the map said was Mail Hollow. Anyway, it was heavenly - the pleasant sounds of the water, the screeching of scrub jays in the pines, and the wonderful smell of the trees. It took me back to boarding school, when my friend Peter and I would head off campus into the woods surrounding Northfield and just walk and talk and find little patches of sunlight to bask in. We never kept track, in those days, of how far we had walked, or how fast or how long.

So, a great day, marred somewhat by the psychocop I encountered on the way home. An under-medicated sheriff's deputy stopped me for exceeding the speed limit, which I admitted to doing, and wrote up a ticket, and then things got strangely weird. I asked how much the fine would be, and he said that depended on what I was willing to do. Then he went on a little riff about he could do whatever he wanted, that he even had the power to take away my freedom.
I was starting to get kinda freaked out. Then he wanted to know what I wanted to do, and when I said I just wanted to get home to my kids, he started yelling at me that if that's what I wanted then he was going to make me stay there for as long as he wanted, and went back to his car. At this point I was beginning to get a little unglued myself. When he came back he was still yelling, and he screamed at me did I want him to just make it a warning? Which was pretty much the last thing I expected out of his mouth, since I was beginning to have visions of being dragged out of the car by my hair and hauled off, hopefully to jail, but who knew what this crazy guy had in mind? And I've never had an angry person offer to give me a break at the top of his lungs, before. Anyway, he made it a warning, and I signed it and then he threw it at me, and said he was just going to give me a warning anyway, and then he stomped back to his car shouting about how I was the third nutjob he'd had to deal with today. Then he peeled off at about 80 miles an hour.

I think he was having a bad day.

Tuesday, April 19, 2005

Only about 27 miles left on Highway 180 - eight left from Luna heading south, and nineteen left between the Saliz Pass and Glenwood. Posted by Hello

Larry's alpaca was very interested in us. Posted by Hello

Luna in the distance. Posted by Hello

Note the tall pines - we're around 7500' here. Posted by Hello

Starting at mile marker zero. Posted by Hello

Down to Luna

Saturday 4/16 - 7.5 miles on 180, from the Arizona state line down to Luna, ending with all-you-can-eat ribs at the Granary Cafe. Everybody raves about these ribs - in my opinion they're slightly better than mediocre, and slightly overpriced, and don't even ask to take home your gnawed on bones for your dog. It's not allowed. Don't ask. Don't even bring it up.

Luna was settled by Mormons and has an LDS church. I'm not normally one to go around trashing other people's belief systems, but I will just say that the Mormon church is not my cup of tea. For an really interesting recent book about Latter Day Saints, read Under the Banner of Heaven by Jon Krakauer - same guy who wrote Into Thin Air, about an ill-fated expedition up Mt. Everest, and Into the Wild, about a young man who went alone into the wilderness and froze to death, leaving a diary and a lot of questions. Under the Banner of Heaven is about two Mormon men who murdered their brother's wife and child, apparently under instructions from God, and in telling their story and trying to understand what made them tick, what makes any religious fundamentalist tick, Krakauer explores the history of the Mormon church and their current practices in great depth. Very interesting reading. Another book has recently come out, by a woman who left the church, called Leaving the Saints -
I haven't read it yet. So many books, so little time.

Thursday, April 14, 2005

Sssnake Season

Today's scheduled walk has been preempted by despised but necessary housecleaning. However, I forgot to give you the latest wildlife report. On walk of 4/9, two Gambel's Quail were spotted just north of Alma. And between Pleasanton and Glenwood, three roadkills - a large but somewhat flattened horny toad, and two smallish snakes, one probably a bullsnake, the other a little red racer, neither of them venomous.

Snakes, of course, are coldblooded, and are never seen around here in the winter. They appear in the spring and seek out warm sunny places where they can soak up as much heat as possible. Large flat rocks are good for this, and so, apparently, is asphalt. The hotter they are, the faster they move, but until they really warm up, they're sluggish and can't always get off the road quickly enough to avoid being flattened. So, in the spring and late fall, you see a lot of snakes basking in the heat of the road, and quite a few get run over by cars. Also in the spring and late fall is when more snakebites occur - the snakes, if they can't get out of sight, will hold their ground and try to defend themselves, and you may not notice them until you're too close.

According to Cynthia, you can tell which snakes are venomous by the shape of the tail and the head. In Catron County, there is only one you have to worry about - the western diamondback rattlesnake. Our walking gear for the next few weeks will include a pistol loaded with snakeshot, just in case we run into one of those.

Tuesday, April 12, 2005

Catwalk road

Saturday 4/9 - Went down to Glenwood again and walked the Catwalk road. It's not shown on the map, I'll have to draw it in, but it's 4.8 miles of paved road east out of Glenwood, to Whitewater Canyon. There used to be a mining camp called Graham at the mouth of the canyon, over a hundred years ago. They had to build a pipeline to carry water to the mill where the ore was processed, and when the mine closed down, the CCC built a catwalk along the route of the pipeline. If you leave the pavement (heaven forbid) you can follow a trail up the canyon for about a mile and then follow the catwalk for another mile or two. Needless to say, we didn't take the trail, just parked the truck, visited the portapotties, and walked back to town. I didn't take any pictures worth posting. Then we drove down to Pleasanton and walked back to the ranger station south of Glenwood, which was 3 miles, so the total for the day was 7.8 miles.

Here's a somewhat interesting tidbit I've dug up - the blacksmith at Graham was Billy the Kid's stepfather.

And another, unrelated, tidbit - according to Cynthia, we've walked 166-point-something miles so far this year. Only a little over 10 miles so far for the month of April, so we need at least another 40 if we're going to keep up our 50 mpm (miles per month) average.

Monday, April 04, 2005

Pizza in Glenwood

April 3rd - still running a slight fever, but suffering from cabin fever as well, and the weather was good - slightly overcast, but warm and not windy for a change - so we did a short walk through the town of Glenwood. Parked one car at the Ranger Station south of town and the other car at the elementary school north of town, and covered only 2.8 miles, slowly. It worked out well, since the roads to the school and the ranger station are paved bits of road that we had to figure out how to work in anyway, and we were joined by a friend of my daughter's, which made a nice change, and the pizza from Mario's in Glenwood is good stuff.

Mario's Pizza & Video Posted by Hello

Glenwood, west of the highway. Not paved, so... Posted by Hello

Uh huh. Posted by Hello

Progress is slow,

but we've added a little green to the map since the last time I posted it. We've done about 23 miles or so on 180. We're kind of jumping around a bit.

More or less up to date now Posted by Hello

Friday, April 01, 2005

Such interesting people in the world

Walking update: March 26, 4.7 miles from the Saliz Pass just past the 30 mile marker on 180 to a convenient turnout just before the 26 mile marker. I didn't bring a dog - it's hard enough dodging death yourself on the winding road, without also having to prevent your best friend being flattened. We dawdled quite a bit on this stretch, peering down into Saliz Canyon at houses and things we never knew were there before. One in particular was fascinating - two houses, a large barn, pipe rail fencing (not cheap) and possibly a million dollars in vehicles parked all over the place in various states of repair and disrepair, from enormous pieces of road building equipment to antique trucks and cars. This is what passes for entertainment around here - hours spent speculating outloud about who owns a piece of property, who they might have bought it from, how much they paid, what they're doing with it, where they got their money, who they might be related to or married to, what you might have heard about the state of said marriage...

On the one hand, it's kind of awful, and on the other, I think it's related to your relationship with the landscape, the one you automatically develop when you live in a rural place. As soon as you meet someone, you have to physically place them in your physical landscape. When you meet people in the city, you mentally place them in your mental landscape, or at least I did, but out here real estate is the key to everything.

Haven't walked this week. Got sick, which is something I hardly ever do, but it's given me plenty of time to navigate my way around Spikebot Weekly, the blog of an extremely fascinating person in Australia who may be starting a Walk of her own, and I assure you it will be a lot more interesting than mine. Go to and you'll see what I mean. On her site you'll find, among many other things, links to pages about other walkers, including a ninety year old guy who's walked, so far, 137 of the 150 or so suburbs of Sydney, Australia, and a mathemetician who accomplished the same thing Caleb Smith did, walked all the streets in New York, but in about four months, at a pace of about 4-5 miles hours, once walking 48 miles in a single day, or so he claims, and keeping track of every step with a pedometer. I'm guessing he didn't take many photographs. Which just goes to show, there are no rules but the ones you make up for yourself, which is how the rest of life should be but usually isn't.