Yesterday I had to go to a small community about 10 miles outside of town to see one of my homebound patients. One the way back, I had decided before I left that I would to 2 miles off the main highway to some forest service land and take a short walk down the access road. Once I parked, I decided to follow a trail instead. I had my runkeeper on my phone turned on (tracks my miles and time) and set a goal of walking a mile to a mile and half one way and then turning around and walking back. I figured an hour or a little more and that would be my lunch break. I work from home, so my lunch breaks are flexible. Once I started walking though, I kept changing my goals. At 1 1/2 miles I decided to go another 1/2 mile, then a little further decided another 1/2 mile. I ended up doing 2 hours and 5 minutes and 5.8 miles. It was a beautiful fall day, and I just kept going!
This area is part of a protected game preserve where no hunting is allowed of the elk and deer that are out there. I never see any of them when I'm hiking in this area, but they often get down on the highway especially at night, and sometimes get hit by cars. I've hiked a lot in this preserve, going in from different directions. This trail was one I hadn't started on before, but before long it ran into one I had done. In high school, many years ago, I had a horse and used to ride a lot out in this area. The forest service keeps some of their horses in this area (there are many fences out here to keep them confined to specific areas) and I saw a few of them today, after I went through a couple of fences. They aren't locked, they just request that gates are closed after going through.
Right past the horses the trail merges with a dirt road that I followed. This road is for forest service use and not for public use for motorized vehicles but is okay for walking or bicycle riding and mountain bike riding is a big sport around here. The path and road had a slow steading incline.
There are signs in various places which point to various trails.
The road gets a little rougher and I also start to get into some of the evergreen trees. There are places with trees mixed with places without them throughout.
I came across what may be an old well but not sure. A little further there was something that looks like it may have been, or still is, a holding tank or something under ground.
The road continues. In the background are the Twin Sisters peaks.
I came across a salt block left out for the horses. Mineral licks are very important to the health and performance of all livestock. Without essential vitamins and minerals, major health problems arise that could've been avoided by supplementing animals with loose mineral or a salt block. I hadn't seen one in a long time.
At the top of a higher spot now and started downhill for a while.
Another sign. This one points to the Big Tree trailhead, which has a parking area that is about 2 1/2 miles in from where I left the car. I've started from that trailhead many times. I decided instead of going back the way I came, to go to that trailhead and then follow the main dirt road back to the car. The forest service has some buildings near the trailhead.
Through another gate and then down and up a trail.
On the main dirt road that ends at the parking lot, headed back towards my car 2 1/2 miles down the road.
Zoomed in on the old water tower behind the old Fort Bayard hospital. It was actually a little further away but if I didn't zoom in you wouldnt be able to see it. That's not to far from where my car is. Fort Bayard was a military fort at one time, built in 1865. Then in 1899 when it was going to be abandoned, it was transferred to the Army Medical Unit and it became a tuberculosis sanitarium for military. In 1922 it was transferred again to the VA and became a hospital for veteran's. Then in 1965 the state of New Mexico acquired it and it became a long term care facility (nursing home) owned by the state. There is a historic cemetery on the property with graves dating back to 1866 and it became a National Cemetary in 1976. In 2004 the whole facility and grounds became a national historic landmark. A couple of years ago a new hospital was built not far from the old one, and the residents were all moved there. Right now there is legislators in New Mexico who want to tear down the old hospital and there is a fight by a lot of people who don't want it torn down but preserved as a historic site. Maybe one day I'll walk through the grounds and post pictures of the site. But on this hike I had driven through the site to get to the dirt road I was walking.
I got back to my car a little tired, hungry, but feeling good about my exercise.
Have a great day!