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2017-04-12  
Attorney Mtn & Still Ridge HP & McGhee Peak, NM
mini location map2017-04-12
69 by photographer avatarAZHiker456
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Attorney Mtn & Still Ridge HP & McGhee Peak, NM 
Attorney Mtn & Still Ridge HP & McGhee Peak, NM
 
Hiking avatar Apr 12 2017
AZHiker456
Hiking11.50 Miles 2,767 AEG
Hiking11.50 Miles   5 Hrs   36 Mns   2.24 mph
2,767 ft AEG      28 Mns Break
 
1st trip
Linked none no linked trail guides
Partners none no partners
Day 1 (NM Peak Bagging Trip, Part 2)
After a hellacious week following my 1st trip to NM, [and then a huge setback three days prior to this trip that left me so weak I barely had the strength to get out of bed], I’d written off this trip entirely, booking errands that normally would’ve taken a day or two to complete… however, almost as suddenly as everything hit the fan the previous several days, all barriers to my departure miraculously resolved the evening before I’d originally planned to leave. And less than 24 hours after I’d thrown in the towel, I found myself not only scoring double-digit mileage, [and slightly surpassing my goal of 11 miles/day], but also rather effortlessly pulling off a sweet trifecta, [consisting of: Attorney Mountain, the Still Ridge High Point, & McGhee Peak]. Needless to say, it was definitely a much better start than the super rushed Day 1 hike of my first trip to NM, [during which crashed plans resulted in not even logging 5.75 miles and not even making it across state lines].

I kicked things off in the Peloncillo Mountains, which are partly in AZ and partly in NM. In fact, the exit to get to my planned starting point is the last AZ exit on I-10 before crossing over into NM. My planned starting point was just under 5 miles from the exit, and it proved to be a very easy 15 minute drive. Based on satellite imagery, the roads in looked excellent for the most part but there were a handful of questionable spots. These proved very easy/doable in my Forester but likely would’ve been a push for a low clearance vehicle; [although with that being said, I’ve seen people take low clearance vehicles on worse]. Less than a mile after exiting, Chato Road [the dirt road I followed for most of the way to my starting point], passes right by the ‘Welcome to New Mexico’ sign that is seen from I-10 as you cross from AZ to NM. From the uncomplicated/uneventful drive in, to a sweet ridgeline summit trifecta hike, Day 1 was a huge confidence builder and absolute blast; I could not have asked for a warmer welcome.

Directly behind my parking spot to the SE is a fun-looking ridge that heads East and leads to the summit of Attorney Mountain; however, having had my confidence completely shattered from the setback that occurred three days prior, the idea of heading off-trail from the start was not very appealing. Thus, I headed East on foot along an old jeep road that parallels the ridge. Although I still felt broken and weak, I gradually started to warm up to the beautiful, friendly terrain; and when I saw some very well-defined routes leading up a ridge to the North of Attorney Mountain I was starting to feel like myself again and more than ready to head off-trail. The off-trail portions of this adventure were truly as awesome as it gets. With well-defined routes, little to no brush, and good to very good footing for most of the way, it made for a fast, fun, and stress-free traverse.

I reached Attorney Mountain in under 45 minutes / under 1.5 miles. After having been to hell and back over the previous three days, I literally almost cried tears of joy upon reaching the summit. Attorney Mountain has two highpoint areas that are separated by a small saddle and look roughly equal in elevation, and I reached the SE summit first. Although the topo map labels the NW summit as Attorney Mountain, the SE summit not only looks slightly higher, it also has a register, [once again, placed by none other than AZ peak bagger, Mark Nichols]. Up to & including Attorney Mountain, I’ve encountered only 5 NM summit registers this year, and 3 of them had been placed by Mark Nichols. In addition to Mark, [who placed the register atop Attorney on May 9, 1998], only two others had signed prior to me.

Before continuing along the main ridgeline, I hit up the lower, NW summit of Attorney Mountain, which had a large cairn on the summit. The next two summits, [Still Ridge High Point & McGhee Peak], as well as a few seemingly random spots along the ridgeline, also had large summit cairns; however, there were no *current registers that I could find. *McGhee Peak had a very old & rusty can nestled within its summit cairn; but it was impossible to tell whether it was just someone’s food/beverage can vs. an actual register at one time.

The views on this adventure were really phenomenal throughout, with the best views being along the ridgeline. No one summit / point along the ridgeline stood as my favorite… it was all really spectacular, and I thoroughly enjoyed the many vantages points along my 4.5 – 5 mile ridgeline traverse. While I had a very enjoyable summit rest atop Attorney, unfortunately I can’t say the same for the other two summits & most other points along the ridgeline, thanks to the resident bees… surprisingly, after leaving me alone and not even buzzing me once during the first 1.5 to 2 miles, they got a bit testy as the adventure progressed. While I never saw more than a single bee at any given time, there were MANY places – both along the ridgeline as well as along the 5 - 5.5 mile segment of jeep roads that I took after exiting the ridgeline – where the bees harassed me in the typical manner [i.e. single bee coming out of nowhere and angrily buzzing around my head/face]. The tone of the buzzing was angry enough AND the bees flew close enough that several of the encounters not only had me reaching for my BeeAlert spay but also using it… in fact, I had two encounters where the buzzing sound was exceptionally angry AND the bee started dive-bombing my head/face area. I responded by unleashing the spray in a similar manner to how I described a few weeks earlier during my hike to El Plomo & Salero Mountain [ triplog ] . Once again, not only did the BeeAlert prevent me from getting stung, my heart did not even skip beats, and I actually felt calm throughout what otherwise would’ve been a frightful experience.

After McGhee Peak, I was making good enough time that I continued for a little ways along the main ridgeline before heading back to my starting point. I decided to exit the ridgeline just past the low point, which is labeled as “Johnny Bull Gap” on the topos. Like the main ridgeline, my exit ridge was really smooth sailing, and at the bottom was a jeep road. Aside from having to switch dirt roads a few times, the rest of the adventure was a very fast cruise back. Given that I still needed to log some extra miles, [AND that I was racing the setting sun], the longer than normal dirt road finish was quite ideal, given the circumstances.

Feeling energized and rejuvenated, I decided to get a jumpstart on the rest of driving and headed toward Silver City. On the drive back out to 1-10 as I headed West along Chato Road, I passed a Border Patrol Officer who was heading East, and he motioned for me to stop. He looked very relieved that I was not someone suspicious and that I was not up to trouble; however, unlike the Border Patrol Officers in AZ, [where the general attitude seems to be along the lines of: ‘just make sure to stay at least 5 miles North of the border, don’t try to interfere, and bring a dog or a gun and you’ll be just fine!’], this Border Patrol Officer kind of read me the riot act for hiking in ‘not such a safe area [due to the illegal traffic]’. The odd part was – unlike in the Tumacacoris very near where I used to live in Tubac, or the Mustangs that are just a few air miles from my current home in Elgin, [both of which have MANY areas with suspicious trash], I did not see a single item of suspicious trash during my hike in the Peloncillos. The Officer was also curious as to whether I planned to hike in the area regularly, [mentioning that a Border Patrol agent is sent to check things out if they simply spot someone in this area]. He seemed very relieved when I told him it was a one-off.

I ended up car-camping in the exact same location as my final evening of my first trip to NM, which I’ve already described here [ triplog ] . It was very nice to have such a beautiful and convenient spot to go back to.
_____________________
LET’S GO BRANDON! :y:
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