Cattle, Flies, and Chasing Shade
We spent a week at the Red Cloud Campground in the Cibola National Forest in Central New Mexico, another great spot we learned of on freecampsites.net. This is a very remote and quiet campground nestled in tall pines, in mountains that rise up in the middle of high elevation plains and grasslands. There are only four spots in this little campground and we only saw a few overnight campers - apparently it's only really busy during hunting season. The only downside to this spot was the abundance of pesky flies.
This part of the forest has had 3 fires in the last few decades. Some of the hills look pretty bare, but we could see where the forest is slowly coming back. Hills are covered with downed trees, with a few trees standing that managed to survive the fires. We learned one fire was a controlled burn that, well, got out of control. It’s so dry in New Mexico, it will take more than a lifetime for the forest to come back.
Each day we saw Forest Service fire crews pass the campground on their way to two nearby peaks to look for fires. This is also where we had to drive to get cell service. The views go on forever up there - wide open spaces as far as the eye can see.
We drove to Gallinas Peak Lookout, where a ranger lives 5 or 6 months of the year to lookout for fires. My other half mustered up enough bravado to climb to the top of the lookout tower. This lookout was built in 1933 and is listed in the National Historic Lookout Register. It measures 7'x7' and sits on a 46' tall steel tower at an elevation of 8,615'.
There used to be a considerable amount of mining activity in the area, so it's not uncommon to find an abandoned mine.
Resident cattle use the road as part of their trail to their water tank, so we were treated to morning and evening cattle parades. Baron got loose once and we discovered he likes to chase cows - not good. Fortunately, he didn't get himself kicked. I've not spent much time around cattle, so I very much enjoyed watching them, particularly the inquisitive and playful calves.
There aren’t hiking trails in the area, but the terrain is such one can just set off cross country. We'd take walks, My other half would work until it was too hot in his 'office' in the truck, I did my usual chores, read, and played with paracord. It's a wonderful thing to have days so relaxing one of my main projects is to keep food and Rubbermaids (and myself!) in the shade!