Palabras Pintorescas - Enjoying the great outdoors safely

-A A +A
By Editha Bartley

When scanning the skies, following the resident red tail hawk, I always have to pull out the binoculars and check out Gascon Point. The snow pack will provide some much needed runoff. But there should be deep drifts everywhere and sadly, I don’t see many.  But ... we still have time for a big snow storm or two.

Speaking of our wilderness, I discovered an old pamphlet put out by the southwest region of our U.S. Forest Service. The 10 “Wilderness use Hints” are timely, even if the publication is aged.

Number six tells you to properly hobble or picket your horse at night, unless you want a long walk out. And remember when you are confused as to the way back, your horse will know the way home, a loose rein to allow them a chance and will bring you safely home.

Their words, not mine but are absolutely correct.

Many riders have learned that first hand, including my father when riding here on the ranch once. Number four says to remember the wilderness area means roughing it. Go into the area to enjoy it. Be sure you are equipped to enjoy your stay and safeguard yourself. Take the essential items needed for your stay but do not overload your packs.

And just off the press is a “Trail Guide to the Las Vegas Area” by Joanne Sprenger. This is her second edition, and anyone, particularly a tenderfoot, should have this small book in their backpack if they are headed into the wild of our Pecos Wilderness. She has pulled in experts in many different areas to educate the hiker about so many concerns when tramping through those big woods. From being lost to hypo- and hyperthermia to being caught in fierce lightning storm. Don’t ball up in a bunch when  hiking with friends. If someone gets hit someone nearby might need to give you CPR. She has lots of hints about protecting yourself from a sometimes hostile environment. She emphasizes that sometimes the environment needs protection from us humans. I wholeheartedly agree!

Sprenger describes almost 20 trails through this wilderness with directions, locations that are easy to follow. She has hiked all of them, many times, she rates them from easy to difficult, and printed the important GPS points in bold letters should the hiker become lost.

The color photographs are both educational (the bee sting extractor) and fun (the Rio La Casa Trailhead — no sign there or tree blaze, just dirt and rocks.) She tells to get U.S.G.S. Topographic maps and reminds you not to drink the water out of that beautiful free-flowing spring before it is boiled or treated. Many hikers have contracted giardia, a long-lasting intestinal upset from drinking contaminated water. She also reminds not to pick those beautiful wildflowers. They reproduce with seeds, lest we forget.

I know first-hand what it is like to wake up early in the morning by Pecos Falls. The quiet, the beauty, the charm of such an experience is difficult to measure in my book. This trail guide brought back so many happy memories for me.

I recommend it for any rider or hiker planning a summer wilderness trip here. It is available at several places in Las Vegas, including Tome on the Range. Thanks mucho, Joanne, for another fabulous read!

Editha Bartley lives in Gascon in Mora County. She may be reached at 454-0563.