By Erin Luther, Wilderness Ranger
Somehow, after living in New Mexico for over 7 years, I managed to never venture into the Apache Kid Wilderness. So, it’s safe to say I was absolutely stoked when I found out our first hitch would be there! The Wilderness Ranger crew left off for a backpacking trip to have some type II fun and clear some trails.
The area was stunning! From cacti to exposed rocky outcrops to the swaying pines and aspens, I was really surprised by the high biodiversity this Wilderness area had to offer. The amount of wildlife I saw on just a three-day backpacking trip was unimaginable – I spotted a wild turkey chasing after her poults, witnessed a black bear fumble down a steep, rocky hillside, and heard a Mexican spotted owl throughout the night.
The section of the Apache Kid Trail we were tasked with was covered in such a sea of downed trees that we weren’t sure we would be able to get through it all. The trail itself also became quite primitive as we made our way further into the Wilderness, leaving us to turn up our navigation skills a bit. However, after hopping over downed logs and referencing our maps, we navigated our way to basecamp.
We made sure to keep our days busy – de-barking logs, clearing brush, sawing out large trees, hiking our gear up and down elevation, and taking in the views, of course. Much to our surprise, we ended up sawing out every log we set out to! Helping re-establish this route will not only help users navigate to their destination but, concentrate use to discourage the formation of unwanted user trails. Crosscut can be tough work at times but, looking back down at the trail we had just spent hours clearing was a very gratifying process. The days were difficult and long, and we were exhausted but, man was it rewarding.
Although the crosscut work was the main goal of this project, spending time with the ranger crew was just as fulfilling. Spirits remained high throughout the days, even when the temperatures rose and exhaustion began to set in. We always gathered around for trail meals to tell stories, discuss random topics, and most importantly, trade snacks!! I am looking forward to the rest of the season and putting valuable hours towards exploring and protecting the beautiful Wilderness areas of New Mexico!
If you’re interested in volunteering with our Rangers this season, please sign up through our volunteer portal here: Volunteer with us!