Ft. Stanton

By Patty Wilber

The weather had looked promising, but in fact, on Friday the wind  was racing across the landscape and by Saturday it was rampaging across the landscape like its hair was on fire.  The temperature dropped from manageable  on Friday to snow Saturday night.

Thank goodness for Linda’s super stable (no rocking in the wind) goose neck 4-horse trailer (I think I want one) with a really comfortable mattress and a propane heater.  Luxury to get out of the gale.  I could have been attempting to sleep on my thermarest and insulite (yes two pads for my aging bones) with my little tent billowing around my ears…

We really put the goose neck stability to the test Saturday night because with the snow racing horizontally across the unsheltered plain where we camped, we put our two girls into the trailer for most of the night.

We didn’t want to be up, constantly worrying that the electric fence charger had been separated from the electric wire by the persistent gusting or that the fence stakes had uprooted taking the wire and wrapping it around our hapless fillies and sending them rushing off into the hither and yon or that the snow and sleet had frozen our girls stiff like towels left on the line in that sort of weather.

Those fillies did not appreciate our efforts to save their lives and provide comfort. Lacey banged the trailer once an hour and they both wiggled rather a lot.  When they started nickering at 5:30 am, we unloaded them. The sky had cleared and only the wind was left. The pen was still standing, so in they went with a flake of hay and we went back to sleep!

Fort Stanton is between Capitan (home of Smokey the Bear) and Lincoln, New Mexico.  It was a military fort from 1855 to 1896 and after that (in non-chronological order) until 1997 it was a camp for German sailors trapped on the wrong side of the war line, held German POWs, was a military hospital and TB sanatorium,  a women’s prison, a CCC camp, a home for developmentally disabled and several other things I probably have forgotten.

Now it is used as a campground with nearly 100 miles of very equestrian friendly trails (with water tanks to keep the equine refreshed!), and is a living history museum with civil war and other re-enactments.

Here are some pictures of our minor adventures:

Friday: Overcast and Not Warm.  We rode east to the Rio Bonito and then south to the Fort.  The handout map from the campground was a little less than helpful so while we first thought we were going to make a loop, we got temporarily misplaced and dusk was coming on, so we backtracked.

Shorty (an Icelandic) with Carol and Tulip with Mary Ann.  Over cast and not warm.

Shorty (an Icelandic) with Carol and Tulip with Mary Ann. Over cast and Not Warm.

Lacey had been leading but she was not so sure about the water, so she let Shroty and Tulip check it out.  They proved it was fine and Lacey went right in and across.

Lacey had been leading but she was not so sure about the water, so she let Shorty and Tulip check it out. They proved it was fine and Lacey went right in and across.

Heading South with the Sierra Blanca in the distance.

Heading south. Linda’s head and  Sierra Blanca in the distance.

Some of the other campers told us that 50 mph wind and snow was on tap for Saturday at 11.  Our own perusal via Ipad indicated things were not so dire or so early.

So Saturday we  woke to sun (and wind–they were right about that) headed north under the highway.

Lily says "good morning!"

Lily says “good morning!”

Under highway 380!

Under highway 380. The culvert crossing was fun.

A big herd of pronghorn!

A big herd of pronghorn!

It was really really windy, so by the time we got to a good stopping place for lunch (an old homestead), we tied our horses, and then overcome with food and wind induced fatigue, we took a nap.  That was another luxury!

Thanks Linda for the picture!

Thanks Linda for the picture!

 Saturday night the moisture did arrive (but most of it blew away)

Lily in the snow.

Lily in the snow.

and it was sunny again, so we rode west of camp. We once again got temporarily misplaced because we missed a trail junction, but Ft. Stanton is pretty wide open, so landmarks are easy to spot.  Thus, we just bushwhacked a little and rediscovered our trail.  One big gully did threaten to impede our progress but our trail worthy mounts we up for any challenge! Down and up and on our way.

View to the north with Carol and Shorty.

View to the north with Carol and Shorty.

View to the south Lily and Linda and Sierra Blanca in the distance!

Lacey had a fine weekend even though I only got pics of her ears!

We haven’t planned our next big camping adventure, but we have some ideas.

I’d be curious about your favorite NM horse camping spots!







About BlogPatty

Here's the skinny: I have a thing for horses. They make sense to me. I have a small horse training business (it's a "boutique" training business, not because it's super fancy, but because the horses get a lot of personal attention). I also go by Dr. Wilber, and teach biology full-time at a Central New Mexico Community college.
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5 Responses to Ft. Stanton

  1. Marilyn says:

    Glad you had fun. But… BRRRR! I think I’m spoiled by N’Awlins weather. It’s now 63F….

    • Patty says:

      The wind was the worst part!

      • Doranna says:

        The wind is always the worst part…

        Do you have a compass with you for your jaunts?

        signed, will be laying practice track in suddenly winter weather in CO tomorrow…

        • Patty says:

          No compass–well–actually I did have a compass in my saddle bags…but pretty hard to get lost there as you can see the big landmarks–like Sierra Blanco!

          • Patty says:

            And I am so sorry re: the weather in CO. I guess it is that time of year–nice one day and really NOT NICE the next. Bleh.

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