Oso in the wilderness in the Gila National Forest, New Mexico, 2016

Oso is my good friend Troy’s dog that he adopted from a shelter several years ago. Oso is a mix between an American Bulldog and a St. Bernard. Here he is patiently waiting for us to finish packing up for the steep ascent back to camp. An ascent that he, of course, made look easy, much to our chagrin, as we lumbered up the slope.


Van Camping in Apache Creek, Gila National Forest

A number of free campgrounds are accessible in the Gila National Forest area of New Mexico, and I chose Apache Creek off of Route 180 on my way south through the forest. The campground was primitive but quiet, clean and pretty spacious between each campsite. The view of the rocky cliffs and towering pine forest around were a peaceful view in the evening and morning hours. I decided to start my first fire of the year and watch the sun go down/Venus come out. 

The following morning I got an early start and drove south on 180 to check out “The Catwalk” recreation area for some hiking, but with no notice the road had become a river about 1 mile in. I didn’t want to take the chance of crossing and having issues with the fast running water, or possibly getting stranded later on.

I headed south once again and was excited to check out San Francisco Hot Springs… As I made my way down on the 2 mile trail to the hot spring I was stopped by another hiker and told the trail was washed out and pretty much impassible. Sure enough, he was right, and at the bottom of the canyon I could not find a way to cross the 20 feet of rushing waters to continue toward the springs. I explored the canyon for a bit before headed back.

The day was a bust, so I decided to go ahead an make the 2.5 hour drive all the way through Silver City and then north to the Gila Cliff Dwellings National Monument before the sun started to set.


Critically endangered Mexican gray wolf female in captivity. Conservation efforts to breed and release these gorgeous animals back into their natural range are on going. A population of about 97 wild wolves have established territory in the Gila and Apache National Forests, in New Mexico and Arizona.

Lobo week, Life in the wild: The family

As all the other gray wolf subspecies, Mexican wolves live in tight social family groups. A family group is typically formed by a breeding pair and their multigenerational offspring. When the young are sexually mature (commonly by their second year of life) they leave their natal pack to find a mate, establish a new territory and start a family of their own. Ideally, the dispersing wolf has by then learned from his or her parents the survival skills necessary to thrive (like hunting techniques and safe travel paths) . Each family group has a particular set of habits and practices that builds up over time and is passed down from one generation to another.

- Image: A multigenerational family group photographed by a camera trap in the Willow Springs area, Gila National Forest, New Mexico. USFWS photo.

Topography of New Mexico

New Mexico’s unique landscape is characterized by north-south mountain ranges that are part of the Southern Rockies and the southerly flow of the Rio Grande. To the east toward Texas are high plains. To the west toward Arizona are the San Juan Basin, Plains of San Augustin, and the dramatic Mogollon Rim and rugged Gila Wilderness. The southern boundary is part of a broader region across southern Arizona to West Texas described as “Islands in the Sky” for high north-south maintain ranges separated by stretches of Sonoran and Chihuahuan desert. The quick transitions of the landscape, from mountains to rivers to deserts, contribute to New Mexico’s mystique as the “Land of Enchantment”.

Wildfire shatters record for largest in New Mexico wildfire burning in the Gila National Forest is now the largest blaze on record in New Mexico, a fire incident spokesman says. Two lightning-sparked fires merged last week to form the giant blaze, which has grown to more than 170,000 acres.

Photo: Smoke from the Whitewater-Baldy Fire is seen on Tuesday, May 29, 2012, in the Gila National Forest, New Mexico. (Andrea Martinez / Gila National Forest via


Last spring, we decided to take up backpacking and of course, we had to take the corgi! Our first trip was to the Gila National Forest, where we hiked 12 miles in two days and made over 20 river crossings. Hence, the life jacket for the Lucy Bear. (First 2 pics)

The second trip was to the Lincoln National Forest where we hiked around 13 miles and actually saw a bear. Luckily, the Lucybear didn’t see it and it didn’t see us. (Last 4 pictures)