We packed up camp at the Angel Peak campground early in the morning, and bounced back down 8 miles of washboard road towards the highway. Along the way we pulled into several picnic areas with scenic overlooks and ooohed and aaaaahed at the spectacular Kutz Canyon from many angles. Every stop was worth it..
But then a new destination was calling …… about 70 miles southeast ….. over the Continental Divide to Cuba Mesa.
Cuba Mesa! We set our GPS with the turnoff coordinates which was a smart move. The unsigned turnoff was just a two-track road with a steep descent then over a cattleguard followed by a steep climb up a very rutted road. Not a place we’d want to be during or after a rain, even with 4WD!
We climbed steadily up through a mature ponderosa pine forest with many large diameter ”yellow bellies,” their beautifully patterned bark resistant to fire.*** Piñon pine and juniper were also scattered about along with clumps of Gambel’s oak sporting their glossy spring green foliage.
We didn’t see any deer or elk, but evidence of their presence was everywhere; hoof prints criss-crossing all along the two-track road.
We climbed to about 7500 feet and found a nice opening to set up The Felix. It was a cool afternoon under the trees, and we all enjoyed several walks, bushwacking through the understory, being careful not to step on the cactus that seemed to be everywhere.
We had Cuba Mesa all to ourselves. It was wonderful. After a quiet night under a near full moon, we enjoyed a morning hike before packing up camp to head home. On the way down the Mesa we were greeted by a large flycatcher …. the Cassin’s Kingbird. From high in a juniper, he seemed to be singing “good-bye, safe travels,” before jumping off his perch to resume his search for breakfast.
Thanks for coming along on our Escapito. Until next time!
**** This may be a lucky fire-resistant stand of ponderosa. We flipped on the radio while heading home and learned the Santa Fe NF issued an entire forest closure order applying to all uses, effective the day of our departure! It’s been an extreme fire season. Currently, in another part of the same forest …. east of Santa Fe ….. the largest wildfire ever in New Mexico has burned more than 450,000 acres since mid April, and is only 40% contained. High winds and zero moisture have played a significant part in the firefighters on the ground and in air to put a stop to this burn. This is currently the largest active fire in the nation!