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Yesterday's Hike

Monday, October 21, 2013

I hadn't been hiking in a little bit. Seems like something always comes up or I get lazy when I could. And this is the best time of year for hiking around here, when the weather has cooled and the rains have stopped.

I wasn't sure how much I could hike, because I had done a 6 1/2 mile walk in town earlier, up and down hills. I had already done the equivalent of 40 floors according to my fitbit. But the bug bit me to go out anyway. Usually I can only do one or the other. I headed out to the Little Walnut area, a series of forest service trails a few minutes outside of town. I've been here many many times, and have posted a number of blogs on this area. But I'm going to go ahead and do it again.

I decided to climb Gomez Peak, at the very edge of the recreation area. I don't know why I had to climb the peak, but that's the thought that stuck in my head. It's not a lot of mileage (my total mileage was 4.25 miles for the hike) but it has a pretty good climb to it.

But first as I was heading out of town I noticed McDonalds. No I didn't stop to get something to eat there LOL. But they just did a lot of remodeling and finished less than a month ago. One of the things they added was this huge Ronald McDonald (which I thought was hideous). I noticed that in such a short time, Ronald is now leaning way over. I thought before it was a solid figure, but it was kind of bobbing yesterday so maybe it's a balloon that needs air.

So now on to the hike. I start out on the trail. Here is the peak I am going to climb.

The grasses are turning brown now, since the rainy season is over and the weather is getting colder. We've had some nights down in the mid 30's. It was very green for a while when we had a lot of rain. But the weeds are still high, which left stickers that got in my shoes and on my shorts at times. Still a very nice hike.

They have these nice signs at various intersections along the trail to help you decide which way to go. I've been hiking these trails on and off since the late 90's, and used to hike here when the signs weren't here. There are 2 ways up to Gomez peak. One is a trail that winds around the mountain as it climbs, until it gets probably about 3/4 of the way up. Then it joins the trail that goes straighter up the trail at marker 6 on the map. Points 5 to 6 (if they show up on this picture, is a steeper, shorter trail. But much better than the old trail back I the 90's that is now closed off. This one has more switch back making it a little easier. Way back there was just one way up. The trail around didn't exist, and neither did the newer trail from points 5 to 6. The old trail was a very steep, straight up the face of the mountain, and very treacherous. Hard going up, worse coming down. Lots of good sized rocks and growth on the side of the trail that made it hard to get off the trail. The trail was narrow, steep, and lots of loose rocks on it. Going up was very steep and sometimes you almost felt like your face was close to the ground LOL. Coming down was really hard because of the steepness and loose small rocks on a hard packed ground that made it really easy to have them roll under your shoes and cause a fall. I only did that trail a couple of times back then because it was really scary to me. I had a doctor once though who thought I should exercise more and suggested I run up that trail every morning before work. Apparently there were some people who did that. He didn't stay my doctor long.

I started on the trail that climbs up the peak winding around it.

The trail is still not and easy one, although it doesn't climb as steeply. Lots of rocks. And the growth by the side of the trail was taller and got more dense as I climbed. It wasn't growing on the trail itself, but was tall and leaned over the trail from both sides much more the higher I climbed. I'd never seen it this tall and over the trail this much before.

As I wind around I being to see parts of Silver City down below. I had started on the side more toward the north, away from town. As I wound around toward the west and southwest it came into view.

The trail is kind of technical with a lot of rough places on it.

Not many flowers left but I did find a few. And of course different kinds of cactus.

This is a Century plant, an agave plant. They only bloom every so many years. It was once thought only every 100 years, which is where the name century plant came from. Actually they say it's closer to every 10 to 30 years. When they do bloom, they have a yellow and orange color to them that looks kind of like fire. I've seen them bloom like that, and when the sun hits them in the early morning or late afternoon/evening they really do look like each of those pods is on fire and it is really beautiful. But each year you only find a few if you are lucky. There are lots of them around here, but they don't all bloom at the same time. They also die shortly after they bloom. Some people also take these and decorate them for special times, such as Christmas or other times. Usually after they've fallen and are dead. When I worked on a mental health unit, someone brought in one that that the patients used to decorate for any different holiday or event that came up. It just stayed there.

I'm still winding around and am on the south side now, probably about 2/3 of the way up. I will wind a little more before catching the trail that climbs up to the top of the peak.

The trail turns into solid rock for a little while now.

Way off in the distance is a monastery. It is said that the monks climb to the top of this peak sometimes for sunrise services. I'm not sure how often but they have a ring built at the top of the peak I will show later.

Now I come to the junction in the trail where I can either go down the mountain or turn left and climb to the peak at point 6 on the map.

Found some different flowers here.

More rocks to climb over

Through here the trail was really narrow, rocky, and tall grasses and other things (I would call some of them weeds) kept me occupied as I climbed up to the top. I didn't take any more pictures until I got to the top after this one. The trail felt more treacherous than at other times because of the heavy growth that made the trail more narrow than usual. Sharp drop offs on one side, and a few places where the edge of the trail had been washed out by the unusually heavy rains this year. Passable but lots of caution required from here.

At the top now, looking down on Silver City.

Here is the ring that I mentioned that I think is made by the monks. Last time I was here, last March, it was a little different and had a fire ring in the middle of it. The peak is a very small area, and doesn't have much area around this ring at the top.

My camera batteries died here so I didn't get any pictures on the way down. I went down the trail that goes more straight down, and not around the mountain. But first I sat on the top of the peak for a while and read some of a book on my phone and just enjoyed being up here. I was reading a book about someone who hiked the Appalachian trail. I spent about half an hour just relaxing up there. Just as I was getting ready to leave, another woman climbed up to the top. I left her in peace up there and started down the trail.

Hope you enjoyed going along with me on my hike.
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