Four NMVFO volunteers met to scout the Rio Puerco Trail #385 at the eastern edge of the San Pedro Parks Wilderness north of Cuba, along with the Peñas Negras Trail #32 and Perchas Trail #418 that form a 6 mile loop together. We met at Resumidero Campground (Google Maps is wrong on how to get there!) and drove 3 miles south to the Rio Puerco Trailhead.
A huge number of big-diameter fir trees were down, making the trail an obstacle course to hike. Several cut ends of logs were visible to show us where the disappearing trail was supposed to go. The old cut marks demonstrated that the trail has seen love in the past. The trail needs more love from us right now.
We marked the route with biodegradable survey tape. After a difficult 2 miles in, we reached the beginning of the loop at a large park area, Vega Redonda, and had lunch.
We continued hiking on Rio Puerco Trail for another mile or so, to get an idea of the density of downed trees on the loop, and then returned to Resumidero Campground via the Vega Redonda Trail #43, as rain threatened.
One of my favorite things about leading a trail project is scouting the trail beforehand. I was not familiar with Cowles, so Mike joined me for a one-day scouting, with some tree removal to assist the BCH Pecos Chapter that would be bringing in our equipment for a backpacking trail project for NMVFO in late August.
We started from the big parking lot at Cowles up the Winsor Ridge Trail #271. We cleared about 60 trees from the trail by hand, left 22 that the horses could easily step over, but a couple needed some work. BCH would not be able to stop to saw when carrying in supplies, so we might need to return for a day or overnight trip to finish preparing the trail. A quarter-mile section of #271 had numerous small aspen blow-downs in a tangled mess that needed clearing.
Stewart Lake was lovely, and had a large group campsite that I did not know about, but Mike showed me.
From the junction with Stewart Lake, we continued along Skyline Trail towards Spirit Lake, and encountered more trees to be cleared. We might change our campsite in August to Stewart instead of Spirit. For (reasons) I was hiking slow this day, so we did not get all the way to Spirit. This trail was not too bad, but needed a few trees cleared, especially three large ones requiring a 2-person crosscut, about halfway down.
We took Winsor Trail #254 down to the trailhead and Winsor Creek Road to Cowles. Winsor #254 is the proposed entrance route for our trail project, perhaps not shorter than Winsor Ridge Trail, but saving a bit of altitude gain.