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Lincoln NF trip report, October 31 & November 1, 2017

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Offline Jonathan Sadow

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Lincoln NF trip report, October 31 & November 1, 2017
« on: December 22, 2017, 12:41:21 AM »
It had been nine years since I'd visited the White Mountains of southeastern New Mexico, so I figured it was time to go there again now that autumn was here and the trees were turning colors.  On October 31, I went to see the Monjeau lookout tower, located at the end of Forest Service Road 117.  It wasn't as easy to get to as it sounds, as the Forest Service had closed the lookout for the season and gated the road about mile from it, so I had to walk the rest of the way.  Just before the gate is Skyline Campground, where I took this image of White Horse Mountain, deep in the White Mountains Wilderness:


17A31001 by Jonathan Sadow, on Flickr

From the lookout area, you can see the entirety of Ruidoso, and to the extreme left you can see the grandstand of Ruidoso Downs.  You can also see that much of this area burned during the 2012 Little Bear fire:


17A31003 by Jonathan Sadow, on Flickr

The lookout itself is a historical site, built in the 1930s and remodeled in the 1940s using all native stone:


17A31004 by Jonathan Sadow, on Flickr

On November 1, I drove up New Mexico State Highway 532 to the entrance to Ski Apache and hiked from the trailhead there to Lookout Mouintain.  Along the way is Ice Spring, which was appropriately named with all the ice around from the season's first snowfall a couple of days earlier:


17B01003 by Jonathan Sadow, on Flickr

There are great views from Lookout Mountain into the Tularosa Valley about 6000 feet below:


17B01004 by Jonathan Sadow, on Flickr

On its south side one can see Sierra Blanca, the highest peak in southern New Mexico:


17B01005 by Jonathan Sadow, on Flickr

While the scenery was great, it wasn't what I had remembered from a previous fall visit to the area, mainly because of the destruction wrought by the Little Bear fire, plus it looked like most of the aspens had already dropped their leaves.  I hoped to have better luck with the fall colors at my next destination, Guadalupe Mountains National Park.

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Online presidio

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Re: Lincoln NF trip report, October 31 & November 1, 2017
« Reply #1 on: December 22, 2017, 01:55:43 PM »
The lookout itself is a historical site, built in the 1930s and remodeled in the 1940s using all native stone:

Monjeau also was burned in the Little Bear fire, but the rock/masonry survived and the burned portion will be rebuilt.

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because of the destruction wrought by the Little Bear fire

I always am amused by the idea that wildfire causes "destruction" when, in fact, it is a completely natural process. While the Little Bear fire obviously was intensified by a century of fire suppression, the fire itself was a natural start by lightning in the wilderness area and essentially nearly was self-extinguished at a size of around 10 acres when the fact-of-life high winds in NM arrived on scene and caused it to literally explode. Yes, there was destruction of property in built-up areas, but much of that was the result of examples of inadequately making properties fire-safe. That is a known and mitigable risk and not attributable to naturally-occurring wildfire itself.

Anyone understanding wildfire can take one look at Ruidoso (significantly populated by Texans who have little understanding or experience with
the nature of the threat) and know that if a fire ever gets started on the west side of the village the entire place will be lost (the Upper Canyon is a death trap with only one way out). There have been several close calls over the years. In two consecutive years not all that long ago fires began on the east side of Ruidoso. The first, started by lightning was driven east, and away from the village by high westerly winds; burning over 10,000 acres. The next year a transient building a cooking fire ignited a wildfire right across the highway from the one above. It burned "only" 8 houses before being aggressively extinguished.

The threat to Ruidoso from the Little Bear fire was underscored when the ski area snow cannons were turned on full-force (water...it was summer) to keep the fire from coming over the ridge and backing down into Ruidoso.
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Wendell (Garret Dillahunt): It's a mess, ain't it, sheriff?
Ed Tom Bell (Tommy Lee Jones): If it ain't, it'll do till the mess gets here.
--No Country for Old Men (2007)

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Offline dprather

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Re: Lincoln NF trip report, October 31 & November 1, 2017
« Reply #2 on: December 22, 2017, 10:54:33 PM »
Awesome...
Leave "quit" at the car.  Embrace the trail as your friend.  Expect to enjoy yourself, and to be amazed.

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Offline Jonathan Sadow

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Re: Lincoln NF trip report, October 31 & November 1, 2017
« Reply #3 on: December 31, 2017, 11:31:14 PM »

because of the destruction wrought by the Little Bear fire

I always am amused by the idea that wildfire causes "destruction" when, in fact, it is a completely natural process. While the Little Bear fire obviously was intensified by a century of fire suppression, the fire itself was a natural start by lightning in the wilderness area and essentially nearly was self-extinguished at a size of around 10 acres when the fact-of-life high winds in NM arrived on scene and caused it to literally explode. Yes, there was destruction of property in built-up areas, but much of that was the result of examples of inadequately making properties fire-safe. That is a known and mitigable risk and not attributable to naturally-occurring wildfire itself.

Well, the wildfire was obviously destructive because it burned a lot of trees.  The fact that wildfire is natural doesn't mean that isn't destructive, just as it's also true in that for some species wildfire is in fact constructive.  In terms of what I was commenting on (the dearth of fall foliage due to the dearth of unburned trees to provide it), the Little Bear fire was destructive.

I'm not sure how a discussion of man-made structures popped up inasmuch as I didn't address the issue.

 


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