Tuesday Apr 6th, 2021, 1300-1900
Alma to Mogollon Ghost Town, segment 20, mm 353
This day was all about dragging our feet and being tourists. In fact, it was my favorite day yet! We started with a lovely and relaxed breakfast in the garden followed by more play time with Mocha the dog. I didn’t want to leave this refuge but didn’t really have an excuse to take a zero. It’s always good to take a break but I find it hard to relax in the middle of a hike. Town days are usually more stressful for me. Plus, we’d only committed to one night and preparing meals for guests takes a lot of prior planning in an area so remote. The closest grocery is an hour away in Silver City.
Dan had offered to take us to the post office, back to Alma and also a side trip to the famous Catwalk up whitewater canyon. It’s a unique hike along a metal platform built into the sides of the canyon. It was originally designed to support a water pipe in the mining days. Dan not only drove us out there, he gave us a private tour. It was really great to spend more time with him and he proved to be an excellent guide. He’s very knowledgeable of the area and everyone that lives there. We got quite the insider’s history. Plus the Catwalk itself was pretty stunning. The time and money that has been put into it is pretty extraordinary.
We didn’t go too far along the path because the catwalk part ends after a quarter mile or so and then it’s just a canyon walk. It’s very scenic but as Dan put it, we’d later be hiking up Mineral Creek which is just as stunning. He was right. He dropped us off at the Alma store once again, where we bought more snacks and dinner for an additional night. It was already after noon at this point and we needed to adjust our food plan for the late start.
After talking to some more locals on the front porch (we talked to so many locals the day before that I felt like I already knew half the town), we finally hit the road. Many warned us about all the deadfall up in the mountains due to the giant fire of 2012. Much of the range burned, which led to a massive flooding event the next year. The Catwalk and many other trails were destroyed during that time and are just now starting to be rebuilt. It had all taken its toll on the local economy, which relies heavily on recreational tourism.
We walked a dirt road for about 5 easy miles to the trailhead, then started up the canyon. It was pretty amazing right from the beginning, with high tight walls and sculpted rock waterfalls and pools. The trail was really great for the first few miles and I was able to keep my feet dry over numerous rock hopping crossings. It was my favorite canyon on the whole trip so far. I don’t know what Aravaipa canyon could possibly have that’s better, plus there was no one else even hiking.
We also saw a lot of old mining relics, including a pretty complete mining complex still largely intact. I guess silver and gold were the targets. It was hard to imagine how they got all the infrastructure up there…via the small canyon or another route, I don’t know.
After about 5 miles we took a well-cut trail that led steeply out of the canyon, gaining about 1000′ in about a mile. This brought us to Bursum Road, which we would follow up to the Mogollon crest trail the next day. In following with the tourist theme of the day, we instead turned right on the road to walk 1 mile down to the mining ghost town of Mogollon. It’s now a living ghost town, as a few people have moved back to settle and even opened businesses. There’s an inn, some cabin rentals, a restaurant, a museum, and several other stores…none of which were open as we walked through, as it’s still considered winter season. We knew this but wanted to see the town anyway.
It certainly felt like a ghost town as everyone seemed to be hibernating. One truck drove past us, the driver not even making eye contact. Lights were on in a few places and we saw one guy out in his yard, but it was like we were invisible compared to the very friendly atmosphere around Alma and Glenwood. It was a little strange but I get that people aren’t used to seeing 2 strangers on foot walking around town in the off season. I’m glad we checked it out though and I’d like to go back to visit when things are open. I heard that Kathy, who used to run the Pieoneer in Pietown, moved there. I met here just before I started the CDT.
We heading back up the road, finding a nice protected spot just off to the side. We were across from what looked like a food truck and a house truck but it was clear no one was home. I could tell it was going to be a cold night but was so comfy under the ponderosas. It was great to be back up in the mountains.