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[CDT-L] Gray Ranch

Howdy: My name is Dick Mallery. I hiked the CDT last season and I am
working on a manuscript about the trek. One of my first problems was
crossing the Gray Ranch. I spent a lot of time researching its ownership,
boundaries, purpose and business. I found it to be very secretive. It is
listed as a Nature Conservancy property but the Animas Foundation denies
any connection to the NC. I camped in the Chiricahua's a couple days before
starting my hike. I drove south of Animas and found the foundation
headquarters. They were not real friendly and told me I could not cross the
My maps show most of the land up through the middle of the ranch as BLM and
state publicly owned property. I hiked up 81 to the Alamo Hueco road,
jumped the fence and went NW to the Divide. 
I'm not trying to cause any trouble. I am still looking for a reasonable
answer to why hikers are directed away from the Divide here at the
beginning. The FS, BLM, and border guards advised me to stay on the road. I
know that the three other hikers I ran into, road walked to Silver City.
The BLM office told me to hike up through the Hatchets but admitted there
was a water problem.
Road walking is not a safe route. You cannot sleep on the side of the road.
Therefore, you still have to trespass onto the ranch to camp. 
If anyone could enlighten me I would appreciate it. 
You have to jump a thousand fences to get through New Mexico. I am
wondering what the difference is between the Gray Ranch and all the others
that must be crossed. I never had a rancher invite me in for roast beef but
they were all helpful and friendly when they found me on their property. I
would explain to them that thru-hikers are normally polite individuals that
practice "Leave No Trace" ethics. I would also explain that the best way to
corral a bunch of smelly backpackers is to build them a trail. Everyone
would be on the same trail if it existed. The way it is at this point in
time, thru-hikers leave the border in a shotgun pattern, hiking windmill to
windmill, hoping not to be spotted and thrown off property that could be
private or public.
I drove to Cloverdale and scouted starting points on that side of the
Divide. I talked to a road grader who filled me in on a lot of local
politics. This would seem like the perfect location for a trailhead since
it is located in the Coronado National Forest. The FS told me 2,000
illegals cross into the US there every week. Between the border and Silver
City I only saw two people, a State Cop where the Divide crosses hwy. 9 and
a Rest Area attendant where it crosses I-10. 
No matter how popular this trail becomes in the future we are looking at a
very short window of use during the spring and late fall. If there is
something I am missing here please let me hear from you. The same is true
on the other end at Glacier. I am happy to see they have made some changes
this year. I raised the roof last fall when I arrived there and they
hassled me about my itinerary. I ended up calling the Superintendent and
getting the Assistant Super, Butch Farabee. I told him Glacier was
notorious for hassling thru-hikers and asked him to explain to me why that
would be. There is no one there that late in the fall and I assume the same
thing in the early spring when Southbouders head out. He was very patient
with me and told me he would look into it and that I could hike where I
wanted and camp where I wanted. I only spent one night with other packers
and that was at the popular 50 Mountain site my last night on the trail.
I would like to portray the property rights issues fairly and understand
the varied opposition to a designated trail along the Divide. I would like
other perspectives of this situation if anyone is interested. 
--Keep Smilin'
The Dick E. Bird News
P.O. Box 377
Acme, MI 49610

The Dick E. Bird News
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