Labor Day Weekend, 2016
|Day One, between Sandy Point and Hummingbird Saddle, Mogollon Range, Gila Wilderness|
From when I first learned of the 10,000 foot peaks of the remote Gila Wilderness in southern New Mexico, I have been eager to explore the half-million-acre infrequently visited wilderness area. The Gila Wilderness is the first tract of land to be designed as wilderness in the US, being federally established in 1924.
|Sunset, from Hummingbird Saddle, night one|
For our first section into this relatively mysterious area, we decided to check out the highest elevation section. Starting at the sandy point trailhead, we followed a trail which traces the high ridgeline of the Mogollon range. The majority of the trip was in the 9,500-10,000 foot elevation range, with a turnaround point at the panoramic vista from atop the 10,774 foot Mogollon Baldy.
|Bead Spring, with good flow|
We took two nights and three days on this 24 mile out and back backpack with a short side trip to include the highest peak in the range: the 10,895 foot Whitewater Baldy.
|The ascent to Whitewater Baldy, the third highest peak in New Mexico and the highest point in the Gila Wilderness, is essentially a bushwhack following the ridge above Hummingbird Saddle|
|The View Southwest, from Whitewater Baldy. Mogollon Baldy, the day's out-and-back turnaround point, in the distance on the right|
|The Whitewater-Baldy Complex Fire burned 99% of the high country in the Mogollon Range in 2012|
|the view North, from the ascent up Mogollon Baldy|
|The view south from Mogollon Baldy|
We had the place essentially to ourselves during our 48 hours in the range; we only crossed paths with two groups of hunters within a mile and a half of the trailhead at the very beginning and end of the hike.