Jun 022017

By Patty Wilber

The wind howled down the mountain slopes, the ground was snow-wet and the trees fell down all around, all around this winter in the Pecos Wilderness!

Luckily, Back Country Horsemen, Pecos Chapter, to the rescue (and a bunch of other people, too, but this post is all about US, not them)!

Yes, we cleared this!

Done! Keith, Siri, Chris, Melissa, Mary Ann, Linda, Kevin, Peter, Me, Jim. This was a fun “wreck” to clear and took about two hours with most of us busy! Photo by Siri!


And this. Peter wore his hard hat! This buck saw was really dull.  We only used it on Saturday.

And this! This log took about two hours because it split oddly (as shown) and then wedged. Headless Keith!

And this! And 47 more! Photo by Siri?  or Jim…

The Pecos Chapter of BCH has been going to the Pecos over Memorial Day for as long as we have been members (1999?), and Jim and I have been able to make it most of the time since 2007, when the youngest graduated from high school and there were no more Memorial Day soccer tournaments. (I miss the soccer days, except for the Memorial Day and Thanksgiving tourneys…I was  fine with Mother’s Day competitions!)

The 2017 Memorial Day weekend weather was almost  “not a cloud in the sky”  clear (despite threats of 70% chance of rain for Sunday) and the number of trees down was record breaking.  We had two areas to work: Skyline to Stewart Lake and Dockweiler.  The team I was on worked Dockweiler, and although we rode to the job, us humans worked harder than the equines.  We cleared over 50 trees in about three miles of trail (and the Stewart Lake group did about 30 in a little over a mile of trail)! Many of the “wrecks” required two-man (um two-women? two-person?) saws.

The trail clearing is in the Wilderness–no power tools allowed, so we get to throwback to the “olden days” and do everything by hand (and leg).

Log rolling contest. We won. The log lost. Me, Mary Ann and Siri! This method often works better than a pry bar.  I think Keith took this picture.

We packed in saws of various sizes, axes, pry bars, pulaskis, trail rakes, loppers and of course, first aid kits! LT packed.  She was not a big fan of the pry bar when it banged her side.  I padded it better and then it was ok.

The saw is hooped over the horse and the tools are lashed and bungeed so they do not bang around. LT is not a fan of flopping tools, so we were careful to make sure her load was stable. From world level cow horse to pack horse… Well, at least her life isn’t boring!  (I did ride her on Friday on a different trail.) I am on Penny here.

And for anyone who might still be inclined to think of NM as a hot, dry, baked adobe plain, here is some evidence to the contrary!

Spring-time aspens have tender green leaves topping the tall lithe white-trunked clones. Mary Ann followed by Linda.

Keith followed by Siri coming down Dockweiler.

Jack’s Creek Trail. The aspen are light green and the spruce are dark. Snow still hangs like icing on the mountain tops.

This is Veratrum californicum, corn lily. It gets pretty tall, but in the early stages looks like this. Kind of alien, as if some thing in there might pop out.

Just up under the trees, there was still snow.

We backpacked when I was a kid and I always envied the horseback riders that I saw.  Now I am one!  How cool is that!  I am grateful, and lucky!