SUBMITTED NOVEMBER 2016
Another search season is rapidly coming to an end. I’ve been so busy searching for others at their locations that I feel like I’ve neglected myself. This would be extremely bothersome to me, but no. Here it is the second day of November and our temperatures remain unseasonably warm. I knew today would be a good opportunity for Molly and me to take a road trip…a reconnaisance of sort to a new place for me, a new road, a new trail, a new mountain peak. The biggest problem…finding a destination that is new to me but still north of Santa Fe. With each previous search trip and special place scratched off the map of potential search areas, it’s getting harder and harder for me to find that new road.
As I pondered my dilemma, I thought of Chris the math teacher and his logic that the poem starts at Forrest’s house. (Chris is the guy who creates detailed, difficult scavenger hunts.) Maybe he’s right, but the poem needs to lead us from there… I remembered the comment by a guy on one of the blogs. He said “ the word halve sounds like have, so the first line could read ‘As I halve gone” which translates to halve the word ‘gone’ which means go…ne. Go northeast. This works…from Fenn’s old wagon I would take the Santa Fe Trail northeast. But now where?
As I perused my maps of the Santa Fe National Forest, I remembered seeing a road plaque for Hermit Peak on my way up Rt518 to Walker Flats. Hmmm, “Hermit” Peak…As I have gone (go northeast) alone (Hermit) in there.
It works…Hermit Peak sits 20 miles NW of Las Vegas, New Mexico in the Sangre de Cristo Mountains.
Molly and I made our way up I-25 to Las Vegas where we took the exit for Montezuma…an equally interesting settlement, with a HOT SPRINGS, a potential place where warm water halts (where the multiple hot springs empty into the cold water of Gallinas Creek.) The only problem…this area is extremely popular, and all private property. We stopped, regardless.
After taking a few photos of the “baths” and creek, back in the truck we went and on up the canyon we traveled, winding our way along Rt65 into the unknown…new territory to me.
It was beautiful!
… as well as the well-fed horses in the pastures.
And like many small communities in New Mexico, there are the tidy places…
…as well as the not-so-tidy places.
Gallinas was no different.
But the scenery soon turned stunning as Hermit Peak came into view… a glorious monolith off in the distance.
We soon came to an intersection where Rt65 split from the soon-to-be dirt roads which headed into Gallinas Canyon or Johnson Mesa. I had choices and had no idea which one would lead me to the treasure. We proceeded straight ahead.
Molly and I first stopped at Oak Flats, a small day-use area along the Gallinas Creek. We discovered a deep fishing pool along a rock wall, which would have been “special” if it hadn’t have been so close to the picnic table and pile of litter beneath. What the hell is wrong with so many outdoor recreationists that they have to litter EVERYWHERE? The only extremely clean, litter-free public land I ever see is in our National Parks. I’m always amazed!
After stretching our legs a bit, we turned around and headed back the way we came. But instead of going to El Porvenir, I decided to take a right on FR156 towards Johnson Mesa, just to see what was beyond the curve. Almost immediately was EV Long Campground, where we once again walked down to the creek and splashed in the water, and took even more photos.
Then finally, I turned back onto Rt65 and headed northwest towards El Porvenir, not knowing what was coming. Some of the camps and homes were quite nice for being out in the boonies, and some were not. One had a “bridge” in drastic need of repair. I thought of the line in the poem “From there it’s no place for the meek”… and then I saw Hermit Peak…so majestic, and now closer than I’d ever been.
It wasn’t long until we arrived at the turnout/parking area for the Hermit Peak Trailhead. We exited the truck and walked to the bridge crossing Beaver Creek, only to see a sign that said DO NOT use…it had been damaged by a flood or debris. I stopped but Molly waded across the creek. When I called for her to come back to the truck, she came trotting across the bridge…no worries, she had not read the warning so she didn’t know.
On the way back to Montezuma, we stopped at a dam/reservoir place and took a few more pictures before heading home.
Upon returning home, I checked the latitude of the northern limit of Santa Fe versus the area where we spent the day. Unfortunately, Las Vegas, Montezuma, the hot springs, El Porvenir, even Hermit peak, none of these places are 8.25 miles north of the northern limit of Santa Fe so none of them meet the necessary criteria to make it a viable search spot. Even so, after 7 hours and 300 miles, it was still another great day. It was not a day spent in pursuit of Fenn’s treasure …it was a day spent in pursuit of mine.
More pictures if you want to see them: