Our route from Sierra Vista was planned around two events. A July wedding in Colorado and Susan’s dad’s August funeral in New Hampshire. In addition, and of the upmost importance, Susan needed a petroglyph fix!
Below is a map of our trip from Sierra Vista to my Nephew’s wedding in Sargents, Colorado. Number 1 is Sierra Vista and Number 11 is the wedding. In the middle we found a mother load of petroglyphs. The almost daily threat of wildfires, an encounter with a bear, 116 degree temperatures, and oh ya Sue & I both looking down the barrel of a loaded double barrel 12 gage shotgun, made for some memorable adventures as well. It’s going to take several blog posts to tell all.
The adventures started forthwith with stop number 2 on the map in Glenwood, NM. Cosmic Campground was a spur of the moment decision. I’m glad we stopped, but …..
The campground sat on a bare, rocky knoll. It had few amenities, basically just a pit toilet. If you’ve read any of our previous blog posts you know we prefer campgrounds with few amenities.
After finding a site we set up camp. Let me pause here and give some advice that I wish we had followed. It behooves one to choose a campsite upwind from the pit toilet. 🤢
Sue did a little rockhounding, finding some nice agate and chalcedony. In hind sight she should have been carrying bear spray!
It was hot, in the 90’s, so we went to sleep with every window open in Shiny. We both slept through the night.
In the morning, Sue noticed bear paw prints imprinted in the dust on both sides of Shiny. We heard nothing! 🐾🐻
There were three camp sites occupied with people in tents. Can you say SCARY!!
Other than being a stomping ground for Airstream loving bears, Cosmic Campground is also an International Dark Sky Sanctuary.
I mentioned that the campground sat on a small knoll. This allowed for a 360 degree unobstructed view of the night sky.
The campground hosts what they call “star parties”. As you can see there is an observation platform compete with pads for setting up telescopes. I think it would be fun to be here during one of these star parties, although it would be tough to get a campsite. Which reminds me, there is dispersed camping on the dirt road leading up to and around the campground.
On our drive from Sierra Vista, and just after we had crossed into New Mexico, we noticed a big wildfire in the distance. It turned out to be over by the Gila Cliff Dwellings, north of Silver City, New Mexico. The fire was started by lightning, and was called the Johnson Fire. At the time it had burned over 38,000 acres. It made for very smoky air at Cosmic Campground. This was the first of several wildfires we encountered on this trip and we made do with smoky air all the way to and including New Hampshire. This part of our Country is very, very dry. They need rain!
Cosmic Campground is a cool place to stop and we recommend it. Especially if you are interested in bears or night skies. It may not stay a free campground though.
It was a short 40 mile drive to our next stop at Luna Lake Campground in Alpine. This one we had investigated earlier when we stayed at the Griswold Cabins in Alpine last year. We settled into a First Come First Serve campsite at Luna Lake Campground for 6 days.
We love this campground. It’s inexpensive and the campsites are spacious and well separated. Unfortunately we picked a campsite next to the dirt road that lead down to two group camping areas. Both group sites were full for the week which made for heavy traffic up and down the dirt road which made for lots of dust. 🙁
We walked down to Luna Lake every day. To get to the lake we would take a trail through an open forest of Ponderosa Pines and then across a large meadow. The path to and from the campground was good rock hounding territory.
Great birding here too! The Bullock Oriole picture that Susan took at Griswold Cabins in Alpine is one of my all time favorites.
Hulsey Lake, about two miles on FR 8056, off of U.S. Highway 180/191 is one of our favorite destinations when we are in Alpine. I grabbed this description of the lake from Wikipedia.
“Hulsey Lake is 4 acres in size, with a maximum depth of 12 feet and an average depth of 10 feet. The area around the lake is heavily forested, and the tree line comes down to the shoreline. The Arizona Game and Fish Department stocks Hulsey Lake with rainbow trout in the spring and early summer. The lake gets weedy in summer months, and high pH levels prevent stocking as the season progresses. The lake frequently has a winter kill; there is typically no overwinter survival.”
We like to walk around the lake searching for the illusive eagle and chatting with the fisherman. The day we took the pictures above must have been very close to the day the lake was stocked because rainbows were being hauled in left and right. The limit in this lake is 3 fish per person per day. We came across 4 fellers who proudly showed us their catch. They had one more fish to catch to make 12, the limit for the four of them. If you look behind the guy holding the stringer full of rainbows you can see the water swirling, that was number 12.
Like much of the west, Alpine is constantly worrying about wild fires. We heard people talking about it almost every day. Alpine came close to being destroyed in 2011 when the Wallow Fire came through. The perseverance of the local fire department and luck saved the town. We talked to one home owner who told us that the town was evacuated and he was sure his house would be lost. The fire department arrived when the fire got close to his house and moved all of his firewood that was stacked close to his house.
Susan and I were able to watch a slide show of the Wallow Fire made by the Alpine Fire Department. It was amazing to watch how close the town of Alpine came to being destroyed.
Firefighters are brave men & woman indeed!
Next we head into a different inferno.