Monday, 4/12/21: Lincoln National Forest(?)


What does the word “forest” conjure up in your mind. In mine, I see trees, lots of them, mostly tall and thick. On the map, when I saw Lincoln National Forest I had an expectation.

The Sitting Bull Falls, deep in the Lincoln National Forest is about 40 miles from our gravel camp. The closer we got, the sparser the vegetation became. By the time we reached the Lincoln National Forest sign, all we had was either loose sand or harder sandstone with an occasional half dead wad of sage. The Lincoln National dunes or sage or rocks would be more accurate.

The closer we got to Lincoln National Forest, the sparser the vegetation got.

This was “free range” country. What in the world were those cows eating? They can subsist of sand!

Yet, it was gorgeous. How can that be? Well, the pink and orange wavy layers in the cliffs were offset by the occasional green bush that was watered by the tiny Sitting Bull Creek that culminated in a 140 foot drop into a deep clear pool. The entire area is dissected by trails that are more vertical than horizontal. We climbed straight up for about a mile before following the creek another mile to where it weeps out of the rocks at Sitting Bull Springs.

The weather was perfect for hiking - sunny and 68º. What a difference from the oven down at Big Bend. I did wade into the pool below the thin ribbon of the water cascading 140 feet above me. The water was ice cold. We basically spent the entire day climbing around the cliffs and it was glorious.

Scenes from our hike.

On the way back, we drove up to the Carlsbad Cavern National Park sign to make sure we knew where it was before tomorrow. An info sign at the entrance stated that the entrance fee was $15 to the cavern. I only paid $1 online. That kind of worries me. What exactly did I buy for 1 buck? I checked my email receipt. Sure enough, it states that we are entitled to tour the cavern starting at 11:30 am.

Tomorrow - hopefully!

Last year, New Mexico closed all of its campgrounds down and limited day use only to state residents. That was lifted just a couple of weeks ago. I was able to book three nights at the Oliver Lee Memorial State Park for Wednesday through Saturday for $14 per night. This will give us access to White Sands National Monument; a couple of QTs, Alamogordo and Cloudcroft; the Sunspot Scenic Byway; and another section of the Lincoln National Forest.

I do have a bone to pick with the National Forest Service. They have closed many campgrounds, and at the campgrounds that remain open, over half of the campsites are closed. This, of course, was due to COVID. But there are two big ironies to these closures: 1) Federal campgrounds have the roomiest, most spread out campsites of any campground anywhere. The consequence is that campers are forced into other campgrounds that are so tightly packed that you can shake your neighbor’s hand from your camper’s windows. 2) The national campgrounds that are open didn’t close every other campsite to increase the already ample spacing. That might make some sense. No, they closed 5 or 6 sites in a row and then kept open 5 or 6 sites in a row. What good is that?

Oh well, tomorrow we see how far my dollar goes!

Dave and Wanda

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