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)!
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).
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.
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!
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!