General: The area around Ruidoso NM is more of a skiers paradise with Ski Apache at 12,000' or so the big draw on years with good snow. There's a small window of opportunity to backpack before (1) the horses leave many obstacles on the trail for unsuspecting hikers or (2) the fire risk becomes so great, the entire forest is shut down.
It can get crowded on weekends with the usual suspects but relatively few on a weekday. A large car camping area (surrounded by other car camping areas along the Rio Bonito) only had a couple of anglers. A couple turkey hunters complete with face paint thought they'd have the wilderness trailhead to themselves but we took different trails up different canyons. Others may think they got the place to themselves.
Wildlife seen: Elk, deer, turkey
For me, it was the first backpack of the year after being "out" for a number of weeks with increasing leg cramps. With an easy escape(straight down), this was a decent overnight loop north of Ruidoso NM in the Bonito Creek drainage just before the summer heat; my weekend of Monday/Tuesday assured solitude in case I had to wimp out and limp down. The forests were still green but a little dry making my way up the newly maintained trail
Plenty of water downstream but started getting murky and stagnant higher up.
Going up the canyon I finally broke to the top of the ridge and saw the remnants of snow linger on the north facing slope of White Horse Mountain to the south
I made camp and decided against dinner since the streams were very low near the top. Had to decide to use my buff for sleeping or to filter muddy water
Waiting for the sunset ...
Wish I could say I had a peaceful night but it was a bit colder than expected, with the temps going a bit below freezing (ice formed on some standing water nearby). Dayhiking through my injury softened me up temp-wise (to say nothing of the nightly jacuzzi - no jacuzzi here). I donned a micro-fleece sweater but no fleece for my legs. I awoke at sunrise to elk on one side of my camp and deer on the other. Too bad I was going out for other business and forgot my camera.
Quickly breaking down camp, I hiked a couple miles over and down, and finding ample water, I ate breakfast at a breakfast nook...
Think this was a coyote skeleton (not my breakfast)..
At the end of my hike, an elderly couple, her in her late 60's, him in his 70's sprinted past me going up the hill, the lady wearing a Golite Jam. Knowing they were out there capped off a perfect "weekend".
While I had plenty of water, I was having thoughts on what if this had been a multi day hike and is it time to go back to an Arcteryx full of a few gallons? Probably not but the puddles of muddy water weren't that appealing. Time for a better sleep system? Definitely. Time to check on that ripping sound when I stuffed my poles in with my tarp tent? Definitely.