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.
I did not know what to expect as I drove in. Just north of Ruidoso I got a close up of the burn
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:
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..
Another shot uphill
Views from the crest
Good is south east seems to be unaffected by the burn:
Next to it is the burn area however (looks like the charcoal has washed off from afar)
The crest trail is still good around the Bonito Argentine drainages:
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:
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:
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