Today’s hike in the Apache Kid Wilderness was our second visit to this remote area in the San Mateo Mountains and the second time that we didn’t accomplish the hike that we set out to do. Which, by no means, detracted from our enjoyment of the hikes. Without a 4-wheel drive vehicle we often find on Forest Service roads that we have to change our planned itinerary.
We first attempted the 14-mile drive over rough Forest Road 225 in February. Our plan was to park at Springtime Campground where the Apache Kid Trail starts. We got within a mile or two of the campground before we had to turn around because the snow on the road was more than our car could safely navigate. On the way in we had passed the trailhead for the Indian Creek trail. Turning around, we drove to that trail for an enjoyable hike.
The third week in August we knew snow wouldn’t be an issue. Our plan this trip was to camp at Springtime Campground and then hike the Apache Kid Trail the next morning to the San Mateo Lookout. This isn’t snow season in New Mexico but it is monsoon season.
We got to camp Wednesday just in time to sit in our shelter and watch the rainstorm, accompanied with a good amount of hail. The rain stopped in time to fix dinner and take an evening walk. But then at bedtime it started to rain again. As we listened to the rain throughout the night we didn’t have to worry about getting wet. But we did worry about how wet the road was getting. There were some bad spots we remembered that could easily get impassable without 4-wheel drive. As dawn approached the rain had quit but it looked like it might start up again at any time.
We debated whether to immediately drive out or to take our chances on the weather and hike as planned. It was early enough that we decided to hike and then if the weather didn’t improve we could turn around. Sometimes it looked like the clouds were moving out but they never got far before moving back over the sun. As we climbed higher up the trail the views were impressive, even if somewhat lost in the cloud cover.
After hiking 3 miles we decided to turn around and leave the goal of reaching the lookout for another trip. Back on the dirt road it was evident that the previous night’s rain had eroded some new gullies but, fortunately, there weren’t any spots that our car couldn’t handle. I love the remoteness of the Apache Kid Wilderness, but to really do it justice we will have to have a different vehicle. Darn those renegade Apaches.