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

Monday, July 16, 2007

Highway 59

I'm going to have to write about this briefly and succinctly, as it is almost midnight and I have to get up before dark in the morning to hit the road again. We made the trip down to Highway 59 yesterday. Just getting there involved driving east for an hour or so to the Very Large Array (in Socorro county) and turning south on 52, which is only paved for the first four miles, for another hour or so's drive to the town of Winston (in Sierra county), where we made a pitstop before backtracking to the start of 59.

59 starts in Sierra county, runs into Catron county for a short stretch, runs back into Sierra county for a good way, and then heads back into Catron, where it ends at Beaverhead. There aren't any county line signs, so I just sort of guessed and started walking at mile marker 4. It was already later in the day than I've been walking lately, so it was hotter walking than usual. I only walked for a mile or so, while my ride went ahead to scout out the road and then came back and trailed me. Then we drove some more, and when it seemed like we were in Catron county again I got out and walked some more. I'm sure I didn't walk every inch of the Catron part of the road, but it was enough to satisfy me.

I quit walking where the pavement ends at Beaverhead, and we realized that Wall Lake was only 8 miles of unpaved road to the south. Not knowing when or if we'd make it to such a remote area again, we decided to check it out. The road was a litle hairy - narrow, steep and winding, and eight miles took about half an hour, but it was so worth it. Wall Lake isn't big, but we had it completely to ourselves. In the rock face that overlooks the lake there's a ruin that resembles the ones found at the Gila Cliff Dwelling, and we climbed around and explored and took a million photos before heading back to Beaverhead.

We had originally planned to go back home the way we came, taking 59 back out to 52 and 52 back up to the VLA, but we were feeling adventurous, so we headed north out of Beaverhead on a dirt track - barely a road at all, more like a cowpath - and somewhere around O Bar O Canyon (as near as I can tell) the dirt track split into what people around here call a turkey track, where the road turned into three roads. We took a guess, and picked the one that looked like it would run north, and quite a bit later we came out to Bursum Road and then to Highway 12.

By the time we got home everyone was just about wore out from jouncing around on the dirt road on the rocks and the ruts for hours, but we saw some incredible country, and hardly another living soul the whole time. I have to admit I was disappointed not to see much wildlife - just a pair of deer and a few hawks, and later some elk and antelope. I wouldn't have minded getting a glimpse of a wolf, as there are reportedly two small packs of wolves that hunt out there. Also, about 20 or so miles south of Wall Lake a camper was bitten on the ass by a bear, through his tent, only a few days ago. I wouldn't care to be bitten on the ass by some crazy bear, but I wouldn't have minded seeing a bear, from a distance.


  • At 6:03 AM, Blogger Spike said…

    So that's what bears do with a few beers inside them.


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