By Patty Wilber
Back Country Horsemen is planning to pack supplies up the Bosque Trail in the Manzano Mountains for a trail crew on June 26th, but we haven’t travelled that path in many years. So, we needed to check it out.
Also, unfortunately, Bosque Trail, while less than one mile from the Cerro Blanco Trailhead is past the point where road gets steep, narrow and quite rutted. Our own personal BCH Road Scout (Cheryl) advised me to park near Cerro Blanco and ride to the Bosque Trail for the exploratory trip.
I was girding up for a solo adventure. I have four-wheel drive now! I am good with a map! I have a big-ass knife! I was excited to play the brave, lone explorer. (Don’t tell anyone, but part of me was secretly a little nervous.)
But then my co-leader, Peter, was able to come along. Having an accomplice turned out to be really nice.
The road was ok up to the recommended parking area. It got down to one lane and had some bad spots. I smacked the trailer hitch hard on one hole I misjudged (I have a bumper-pull three horse trailer). No obvious problems, and if there’d been some, I had help in the passenger seat!
We parked, saddled and rode up the road to the Bosque Trail trailhead. The road was fairly deeply rutted in one section, but we concluded that we can drive up for the project, so long as it is dry. If there is rain, the dirt ruts will turn to slick and sucking mud pits. That could be bad, even with help!
Bosque Trail takes off from the campground, not from the trailhead parking area, (at least we did not see the trail at the trailhead parking area). Once we found the real starting spot, the way is obvious, but could use some lopping. It heads up steeply for a at least a mile and is technical and rocky. We had to stop to give the horses a breather at least twice and Squirt’s (the horse) butt muscles were twitching from the climb. Even LT was happy to stop.
There was one scary (to me, the cliff-averse) spot. The trail follows the edge of a ledge for a short while, but for most of that time, there is a nice vegetative visual barrier between the horse’s feet and the great abyss, but in one section of about 10 feet, the shrubbery disappears revealing the NAKED cliff and at the same time, the foot-bed of the trail deteriorates, and slopes toward that edge. I think a protective railing would be just fine right about there.
Soon after that, the trail takes a sharp right on what I think is the “by-pass”. This a newer section of trail created to go around a private land inholding in the Wilderness. We had heard that there was a bad rock step spot on the by-pass and wanted to make sure the stock could handle it. The by-pass is less well-travelled (because apparently many people just ignore it and continue on the old trail, which seemed to stay along the cliff, so hey, the by-pass seemed fine to me!).
We reached a spot where we lost the path. Here was another point where having a trail partner was nice. Two brains were better than mine alone. We tied up there and searched until we found that the track went through an oak grove and was impassable to stock. We walked to the top where Bosque Trail meets the Crest Trail, and it is one heck of a vista! We did not find any bad rock steps, either. Yay!
We hiked back down and cleared the oak area (I did somewhat less than my fair share) so pack animals and riders can now get through. We avoided cutting into one dead tree because it began to hum in an angry sort of way when it was jostled. No bees swarmed out, but we let it wind down on its own.
Mission accomplished. Trail vetted. We mounted up and rode down.
When we hit the forest road, we detoured south about a quarter of a mile to Burro Spring, which is a lovely cement stock tank full of clear water, right next to the road. LT drank and drank, but Squirt only wanted the grass around the tank.
It took about a hour and 15 minutes to get from the oak grove to the trailer, including the Spring detour. We loaded up and started to drive out.
We stopped at 4th of July Campground to see if there was adequate trailer parking and stock egress (the entrance is fenced and cattle guarded since stock is not normally permitted in that area). There was! This will be our back-up tack-up area in case wet weather slickifies the road further up.
It was a fun and productive trip!
The next day, I hauled Indy to Peralta to work cows with Ed Krause, and as I was untacking to head home, I glanced at my trailer hitch. It looked a little bent… I looked a little closer. It WAS a little bent and a lot cracked. Ay. I bet that big hole I hit did it and I had driven another 80 miles like that. I am SO thankful that I didn’t get to test the safety chains and emergency trailer brakes.
So, don’t be in stitches, check your hitches.
Metal can fatigue!