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[CDT-L] Springs and things

Hi, Allen: Maybe we should all thank Betsy. I haven't seen this much
activity in months on this list. Let me answer your question on the Gray
Ranch this way. It was an area I spent a lot of time trying to figure out.
I wanted to walk the Divide without any property rights issues. I called
the Animas Foundation--they were short and rude. I read Karen Burger's book
which said they did not go that way because other hikers had been
unceremoniously thrown off the property. I found on the internet that it is
a Nature Conservancy designated property. Once I reached the trail area I
spent a few days in the Chiricahua mountains and talked to Forest Service,
BLM and Border patrol personnel. They all had the same sound bites as if
they worked for Drummond Hadley (The forest service told me the land
belonged to Drummond Hadley, an heir to Anhieser Busch) and the Gray ranch
instead of the government. I drove down the Animas Road to find the
foundation and talk to them personally. I missed the ranch house and ran
into a road grader operator who gave me more insight on the situation than
anyone. I back tracked found the  ranch house that houses the foundation
and talked to a ranch manager who seemed to be in charge. I told them what
I was doing and asked who I would talk to about crossing the ranch. He
said, "You would talk to me, and no"--Pretty much the end of the conversation.
I used Delorme maps and a GPS to do the whole trip. According to my maps,
and the locals I talked to, much of the Gray Ranch, 10 miles north of
Antelope Wells is State and BLM land. I am still researching state, but
they cannot deny you access to Leased BLM land. I road walked 10 miles to
the Alamo Hueco/Hwy.81 junction, jumped the fence, hiked west to the Divide
and followed it north on the east side of the Divide. I believe I stayed on
public leased land, but again I am still researching the area for a
manuscript I am working on. I was stopped by a NMex. state cop when I
crossed Hwy.9. I asked him about land ownership and he said, "Property in
these parts change hands faster than money in a crap game."
After the Gray Ranch it's just more ranches all the way north. I think I
literally jumped over a 1000 fences in New Mexico. I haven't figured out
what is so special about the Gray Ranch yet. I did find plenty of water and
stock tanks--never saw a soul out there. Just me the cows and the coyotes.
Another point to be made is: Those road walking to Silver City, as
recommended by so many, still have to jump a fence at night and sleep on
posted property. That puts them in more danger, close to the road, in my
I think a good trail would be to leave the border south of Coronado
National Forest. It looks like state land to the border, then into the Nat.
For. then road walk the Animas Road to Birchfield then again jump on
state/BLM property and head north. I have contacted both CDT groups with
questions about the situation. Neither have responded. I don't know what
the politics of the situation is but I think the trail should begin near
the Divide and not fifty miles away.  I have also contacted the Forest
Service and BLM, the Nature Conservancy and the State of New Mexico. I am
trying to piece together what little information I have gathered. And let's
not forget about the 2,000 illegals that cross the border there every week,
the drug traffic and the millions of vicious rattlesnakes. I never saw any
of them!

As for the El Malpais. I found a stock tank just south of the wilderness
boundary. The only water after that was given to me after getting through
the wilderness and coming out at a campground near the lava tubes. The
campground has no water, but I ran into a kind couple out to do some
mountain biking. They had 5 gallons of water and said I could drink my
fill. After that the only water I know of is begging at private homes along
the FS roads to Grant. I never did. There were enough curious people who
would stop and ask me what I was doing and most would offer water. I would
not cut through the Wilderness next time. Tough, rough, slow, jagged lava
rock walking and no water.

On springs I did find the Ojo de los Indios. It was a beautiful canyon
setting. The water was so cold and clear you could chew it. I filled my
belly, soaked my feet, fed my face and moved on. I was tempted to stay the
day but knew it was a long way to Canada. The two I didn't find were Barrel
and, just north of Mt. Taylor, American. The road had been rerouted at the
American Canyon and I missed the turn. I did find one spring but it was
dry. There was a second one--Laura, Leslie and Andy (three others doing the
trail in '99) found it. They were a few days ahead of me. I talked to them
in Chama and they had made the proper turns and found the spring. One bonus
for missing my turn was finding creeks east of the American canyon with
plenty of water.
Barrel Spring I have serious doubts about. I slept there and searched as
hard as anyone would who was thirsty and knew there wasn't any water
promise ahead for a long way. Again, there are some ranches and traffic on
these back roads. Most people are more than willing to give some water.
The journal on my web site at: www.dickebird.com gives the trail some
personality from my perspective. I put it there to give people an idea of
what to expect.

Thanks for the info on the Cerro/Deadman saddle. I will check that out and
the state site with the new route south of Cuba.

Keep Smilin', Dick E. Bird
The Dick E. Bird News
P.O. Box 377
Acme, MI 49610

The Dick E. Bird News
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