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White Mtn Wilderness New Mexico (Argentine, Bonito loop) after the burn
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HK Newman
(hknewman) - MLife

Locale: Western US
White Mtn Wilderness New Mexico (Argentine, Bonito loop) after the burn Spring 2014 on 05/04/2014 20:50:58 MDT Print View

I decided to take a chance based on the last rainfall on my normal “test hike” a short overnight north of Ruidoso NM. Almost 2 years ago, a bunch of hikers were detoured due a massive wildfire putting this part of the Lincoln National Forest off-limits.

http://www.backpackinglight.com/cgi-bin/backpackinglight/forums/thread_display.html?forum_thread_id=65058

I did not know what to expect as I drove in. Just north of Ruidoso I got a close up of the burn

burn north of ruidoso

It all looked pretty bad and I was starting to think about not camping. Fortunately I stuck with it and after the official Bonito Lake reservoir*, it started looking almost like nothing happened. Stopping at the TH, I spoke with a FS employee who told me Monjeau and the Southfork areas were really torched (he also told me they green up pretty nice after the summer rains – I need to caution everyone about flash floods and blowdown though). I started up the trail:

Argentina Canyon Ck 2014

Argentine and Bonito canyons were pretty much untouched except for mostly Forest Service backburns to keep the area safer. It was about as green as one would expect from the weather reports. There was a controlled burn area though..

Argentina Canyon burn area

Another shot uphill

argentina Canyon burn area sun setting

Views from the crest

Good is south east seems to be unaffected by the burn:

Argentina Canyon Spr SE 2014 view

Next to it is the burn area however (looks like the charcoal has washed off from afar)

argentina Canyon Spr SE 2014 burn

The crest trail is still good around the Bonito Argentine drainages:

crest trail ruidoso may 2014

A couple large parties were behind me so I decided on camping away from my usual spot ... hidden. There were backpacking parties and then hunting scouts. Not as much wildlife but going down Bonito the next day, heard some turkey, plus this was a recent deer kill with bones still being gnawed along the trail. Here's the main site:
bonito bones

Besides that the only other sign was coyote poo marking the trail. Surprised the little guy in the middle of marking the trail but didn't get a camera shot - need to fix that. Actually a good size coyote, so it's eating something in the wild.

Last shot of Bonito Ck and trail:

bonito ck may 2014

Finished with a green chile burger and a couple Alien Amber Ale’s at Ruidoso’s Farley’s location before heading back (this was a quick overnight) . Town seems fairly lively, so take a look at the current forest conditions and plan accordingly.

*Bonito Lake is the backup reservoir for the desert town of Alamogordo and just north is off-limits. Patrolled by FS and local law enforcement, there's official car camping just north of the off-limits area. I'd recommend just sleeping at the TH.

ed: close up picture

Edited by hknewman on 05/04/2014 21:03:47 MDT.

Eugene Smith
(Eugeneius) - MLife

Locale: Nuevo Mexico
Re: White Mtn Wilderness New Mexico (Argentine, Bonito loop) after the burn Spring 2014 on 05/04/2014 22:34:14 MDT Print View

Thanks for posting this HK!

I've been eyeing the White Mtn. Wilderness for a possible backpacking trip in the coming months, but wasn't sure what the conditions were like up there. I haven't been up that way since the fire ravaged the area. Things are shaping up to be an active fire season, again.

HK Newman
(hknewman) - MLife

Locale: Western US
Re: Re: White Mtn Wilderness New Mexico (Argentine, Bonito loop) after the burn Spring 2014 on 05/04/2014 22:59:17 MDT Print View

Yeah, Eugene, it's shaping up to be a hot June unless some rain starts falling. The FS is really checking campfires so the ranger station will have some info. Just to the south, from the Mescalero Apache reservation to Ruidoso, I could definitely see the surrounding area is really dried up.