After visiting the ghost towns of Lake Valley and Chloride on our way to the San Mateo Mountains, Paul and I proceeded north on NM52, then drove FR478 (West Red Canyon Rd) to its end at Toolbox Spring. We set up camp at one of the trailheads for the Apache Kid Trail #43 in nearby Water Canyon (at about 7600 feet). Canyons in this area are wide and pleasant. Next morning we set off up trail #43 with the goal of finding the old pine tree that marks the spot where supposedly the Apache Kid (Massai) was shot and buried by cowboys who were fed up with his horse rustling. According to newspaper accounts at the time (about 1903), a teenager was also killed in the shootout, and that is why there are two crosses blazed on the tree. This tree is located just a short distance up the trail from Cyclone Saddle on the way to Blue Mountain. If you are hiking from the saddle, it's to your left, on the uphill side of the trail. The tree is now dead and it is only a matter of time before it falls onto the trail.
It was a pleasant hike and the trail stayed in the canyon most of the way until it finally pulled up to a saddle between Blue and West Blue Mountain. From there it was an easy glide over Blue (10309 ft) and then down about 800 feet to Cyclone Saddle. There are lots of cows in the area and partway up the canyon we hiked with a group in both directions for about 2 miles, before they finally wised up and let us pass. On our way back down we saw a mother with a newborn that was still all wet with its eyes still closed trying to walk. We also encountered one elk in the canyon and saw plenty of bear sign.
This hike basically parallels the northern half of GET segment 28, the difference being the GET uses the Coffee Pot Trail #69 from Blue Mountain to FR478. This is the next canyon west of where we hiked. Probably much the same.
After our second night of camping we headed north to visit Grassy and Withington lookouts, before dropping off the mountain to catch US60 near the VLA. Then it was back to Tucson by way of Datil, Reserve, Glenwood and Mule Creek.
Unfortunately, we were in forest fire smoke much of way over Wednesday from the Chiricahua fire. Then on our return Friday we could see the monster smoke plume from the Wallow Fire. Aside from that, it was a great trip that we had been talking about for 3 years and finally got around to it!