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Mule Creek, NM
mini location map2013-01-29
36 by photographer avataroutdoor_lover
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Mule Creek, NM 
Mule Creek, NM
Scenic Drive avatar Jan 29 2013
Scenic Drive220.00 Miles 3,500 AEG
Scenic Drive220.00 Miles
3,500 ft AEG
 no routes
1st trip
Linked none no linked trail guides
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Day Two of my continued Camping/Driving/Hiking/Fishing/Kayaking Getaway.... :sweat:

It had finally quit raining some time in the early morning and was trying to clear out. But the high for the day in Safford was only supposed to get to 48 and when I got up, there were sustained 30 MPH winds, with many prolonged gusts over 40 MPH...In other words, it wasn't wet, but it was pretty raw out. :o

Since Chad and I didn't feel like battling wind and cold all day, we opted for a Scenic Drive in an area that I have never been and Chad hasn't been in a long time. We planned a couple of short Hikes along the drive, if the options presented, but it was mainly about just seeing a vast, wonderful stretch of NM. And the Escape was warm.... :sweat: I have seen alot of New Mexico, but never this area, and now I know just what a cool area I've been missing!!! :D

We took Hwy 191 (Coronado Trail) through the Black Hills to Highway 78 which takes you through Black Jack Canyon on the AZ side. Then you enter New Mexico and the Cactus Flat/Mule Creek area...Lots of new fresh snow and even the lower elevations had a "dusting"...The views were incredible... :y:

Highway 78 eventually ties into Highway 180, where we turned and went north, enjoying the awesome views of the Mogollon Mountains and Gila Wilderness. Throughout the drive, we had intermittent sun, clouds, and even a little rain. We made quite a few stops along the way, but even in New Mexico, although the temperatures dropped, the wind didn't, so we didn't stay out of the Escape very long...Lots of mental notes were made, however.... :D

We stopped at a Historical Marker/Rest Stop on the way, drove through a cool, little canyon, and then took the road into the Catwalk, hoping to get in a short Hike. Chad had seen on the Website that at least the lower portion was open, so we went...Somehow, we missed a sign at the Highway stating that the Catwalk area was "temporarily closed" and we ended driving right up to a closed barrier...Thoughts were, that with the rains from the last few days, they had closed it all for safety reasons and just hadn't posted on the Website.... :( So, we turned around and went for plan B. We got back on the Highway and took the road into the Historic Mining Town of Mogollon.

Interesting and very scenic drive in...Luckily, it appeared that a Snowplow had just been in there and the ice was melting off the road, at least in part...Icy, slushy, first uphill, then down, single lane, dirt road, into a dark, deep canyon, with sheer dropoffs most of the way. :scared: Thank God I remember my winter driving skills and even I slowed down, so Chad's knuckles never got completely white... :sweat: When we were in the actual Town, my car thermometer was reading 26 degrees and you could not hide from the wind.... :o Shades of Minnesota flashed through my head, cold, dark and dreary in there, but the Town was interesting... :) Apparently, a cold, wintry, weekday in January is not prime Tourist season there, so everything was closed up and we didn't see another soul, even though it appears that people still live there....Spent as much time as we could physically stand, taking some pics, and then headed out and back to the Highway, where the sun was shining once again. Damn, that wind never quit though, cancelling out alot of the warmth that the sun was trying to push through... ;)

We had originally planned to do a "Loop" catching the Coronado Trail up near Alpine on the AZ side, but we took too long with all of our photo ops and side trips, so we returned the way we came, just enjoying the awesome Cloud and Sun Dance in the landscapes around us. We stopped for a bit in the Black Hills hoping for a nice Sunset op, but the weather didn't quite cooperate, although the clouds were cool... :)

Returned to Roper Lake and a very toasty Cabin... :D What a cool drive that was, and some truly awesome areas for future outings!!! Thanks Chad, for showing me this incredible jewel of an area on the other side of the AZ Border...Another phenomenal area in New Mexico... : app : :y:
Life is not a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in a pretty & well preserved body, but rather to skid in broadside, totally worn out & proclaiming, "Wow What a Ride!"
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