I left Tucson Monday and drove to Carrizozo by way of Safford, Mule Creek, Datil, Socorro, and US 380 from San Antonio (New Mexico). This was done to make a loop out of the trip, plus I wanted to hit Socorro Springs Restaurant in Socorro to see if they had the beer I missed last trip back on tap. Unfortunately no.
The trip was in conjunction with the longer adventure that Cindy and Bobby were on, with the focal point for our get together being the fireworks show at the New Mexico Museum of Space History in Alamogordo on the 4th (We got onto the grounds for the show/tailgate with my VIP pass from being a museum member).
After a fun evening in Carrizozo, I checked out of the motel Tuesday morning and drove the short distance to Capitan for a stop at the Smokey Bear Historical Park (where Smokey is buried). This was a bit heavy, in lieu of what had occurred in Yarnell two days previous. From there it was down to the Ruidoso area via NM 48. This is where I got to see the extent of the 2012 Little Bear Fire that scorched about 44,000 acres and took out 254 buildings. I decided to try and find Cindy & Bobby, so turned up NM 532 and headed toward Ski Apache. Saw their tent at Oak Grove CG and played a hunch they might be attempting Sierra Blanca, so headed up toward the trailhead. A lot of the area along this road was burned, plus you could see the fire really torched Monjeau Peak (this area is still closed). To my surprise I ran into them at Windy Point Vista (nice to finally meet Bobby at 9800 feet in the middle of New Mexico
) They were indeed going to try for the peak, but a sign about a trail closure along the Crest Trail near Lookout Peak turned them back. Bobby's fallback plan was to do Nogal Peak (9957), which is very inviting with its conical shape. With it being late morning and not knowing what the weather would deal us, this was a good choice as we could make it a short hike from the northern terminus of Crest Trail #25 from the high point on FR 108. I loved this one: short and direct along a ridge with excellent views!
The weather cooperated (not so later in the day).
After the hike, they headed back for a 4th night of camping at Oak Grove, while I decided to follow FR 108 & 400 down through Nogal Canyon and back to the paved highways 37 & 48. By the time I got down to Ruidoso to eat and get some supplies, storms cut loose and made it impossible for me to go up and camp with them, so I got a room in Ruidoso instead. Next morning we regrouped at the ranger station in Ruidoso to gather information on the area, before heading to Cloudcroft. Some of my Tucson hiking friends are planning on going over there for camping/hiking later in July, so I needed to get information for them. The good news is that much of the fire damage was to the lower elevations, and the upper parts in the White Mountain Wilderness were mostly spared. And most everything was open with the exception of around Monjeau, as well as Bonito Lake and other City of Alamogordo owned/managed areas in Bonito Canyon.