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Re: [CDT-L] cdt, nm malpias area

> hi cdt listers ...
>    that el malpais cdt section is currently [but slowly] being built 
> through 
> one of the prettiest areas in new mexico,and also actually follows 
> the 
> continental divide for most of its circa 20 mile length.  it also 
> connects 
> with the zuni-acoma trail [also designated cdt] which traverses a 
> unique lava 
> flow.  one can road-walk all of nm route 117 between pie town and 
> grants and 
> miss these sections, but nm 117 is actually more waterless [unless 
> you stop a 
> car to ask for the stuff].  the "official" section in the "chain of 
> craters" 
> does in fact have several stock tanks near it, with water available 
> from 
> about march to october ... they are reasonably close and will be 
> marked when 
> i've completed that section, hopefully the coming summer.

Tim - 
I'm not sure what it is that you're working on because even the NPS
personnel we spoke with didn't like the "official" route.  And neither
would anyone who hikes it - we were told it's 43 waterless miles through
the Malpais.  If you know about water sources, then you're apparently the
only one, cause the NPS people don't.  Nor are there any water sources
indicated on *any* of the maps.  

For those who haven't hiked the Malpais - walking across the lava ain't a
lot of fun after the first couple hours.  And that's not just my opinion
- it's the collective opinion of every thruhiker that we talked to this
year.  And they just went through the 7 1/2 miles of the Zuni-Acoma
Trail.  Imagine what they'd say if they'd had another 43 miles of that.  

OK - routes - the "official" route leaves Grants and goes down Rt 117. 
That's 6.7 miles on paved road to get from town out to Rt 117 and then
10.2 miles south on 117 to the Ranger Station.  First water is at the
Ranger Station.  What happens when the Ranger Station is closed?   Rt 117
is a fairly busy paved road.  Then it's 5.0 more miles along the highway
to the Zuni-Acoma trailhead, 7 1/2 miles across the Zuni-Acoma (actually
more like 9 miles), and another 7 miles to the next water athe the Ranger
Station on Rt 53.  Again - is the water available if the Ranger Station
is closed?   Incidentally, the Zuni-Acoma Trail is a trip - it took us 4
1/2 hours.  It took other thruhikers comparable times.   First water is
at another ranger s tation - again, what happens to hikers when it's
closed? Anyway - then the "official" trail takes off down the Chain of
Craters - according to the NPS trail personnel we spoke to, that's 43
waterless miles - to Rt 117 and a long road walk into Pie Town.  There's
nothing that I've heard that makes the "official" trail a place that I'd
want to hike.  And yes - I know the mileages that I've quoted cause we
went back there in December and measured them in the car.  

We used a different route - and we think it was better.  We left Grants
on Rt 53 (a 1 mile walk in town), then out the Zuni Canyon Road for about
10 miles to the Bonita Canyon Road - both are dirt/gravel roads.  Bonita
Canyon heads south to the western trailhead of the Zuni-Acoma Trail. 
Then we went across the Zuni-Acoma and south for 10 miles along 117
(paved road) past La Ventana to Cebolla Canyon.  The "official" trail
misses La Ventana - reportedly deliberately.  That's a shame - it's a
beautiful natural arch. We followed Cebolla Canyon to Sand Canyon in the
Cebolla Wilderness and then cut off at the top of the ridge down Armijo
Canyon to the road and south to Tres Lagunas and Pie Town via gravel
roads.  I also have a detailed listing of the water sources along the
route.  Contrary to the "official" story, it IS well watered - and a lot
more hiker friendly than the "official" route.   

One word about "stock tanks"  - they can be anything from "a well-churned
mudhole" to a beautiful flowing spring - but we didn't see many of those
in New Mexico.  We used a LOT of stock tanks - of all sorts - but on the
route we followed we mostly had either windmills or electric wells.  

Those who want to hike the "official" route should be warned of the
problems with it - not just given the "pie-in-the-sky" official line of
BS.  There are enough water problems in New Mexico without building trail
that deliberately goes through long waterless sections for political
reasons.  And that's precisely the reason for the location of the
"official" route.   Especially when there's a viable alternate with water
that goes through beautiful country and wilderness areas.

The official route also adds a LOT of extra miles - but that's another

Enough - my blood pressure is not doing well.  

Walk softly, 

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