Up at Jack’s

Monday morning. I’d been camped alone at Jack’s Creek Campground for the last two days. Thanks to recent media promotion of the upper Pecos River and the Santa Fe National Forest (assuring the public that the fire threat was gone and that fishing and camping would be great), hundreds of anglers, campers, hikers, and wilderness horseback riders were mobbed along the 20-mile route from Pecos, New Mexico up to the Pecos Wilderness itself. My arrival at noon Saturday was a shock. I was lucky to get the last, or next to last, tenting site at Jack’s.

When I was here in July of 2008, the primitive but scenic ground had only two or three sites occupied; Pecos Baldy in the background still had snow on its summit, and the forests of the mountainsides looked healthy. This time around, Jack’s Creek Campground was nearly full; the snow was gone from Baldy’s cap above timberline, and the forests looked half blighted from fungus or insect problems and from several years of drought.

I finally got a good night’s sleep in the tent, warmer and more comfortable than the night before. Most of the campers departed yesterday. Earlier, the mountain temperatures had dropped dramatically and caught me off guard, without a sleeping bag or pads. Last night, still wearing a sweatshirt, I had figured out how to best use the bedroll.

Brewing coffee, I enjoyed coyote’s bark and howling near the campground. After sun up, the birds became active– robins, ravens, flickers, mountain bluebirds, broad-tailed hummers… The scent of fir, spruce, and ponderosa pine filled the bright air. Ground squirrels, large and small, came to visit my picnic table as I started packing and preparing for a last fling with the fly rod.

In the flow of the wild and brushy creek, I saw a flash of color. A cutthroat had made a pass at the drifting fly and missed. The blend of colors there was probably comprised of red, orange, yellow, white, and maybe blue, green and silver…

Colors of an evening landscape in New Mexico, the earth spreading out before me on a long drive home…

Colors of the sky coming down to meet the earth, azure cloud-supporter, equally incandescent and renowned.

About rivertoprambles

Welcome to Rivertop Rambles. This is my blog about the headwaters country-far afield or close to home. I've been a fly-fisher, birder, and naturalist for most of my adult life. I've also written poetry and natural history books for thirty years. In Rambles I will mostly reflect on the backcountry of my Allegheny foothills in the northern tier of Pennsylvania and the southern tier of New York State. Sometimes I'll write about the wilderness in distant states, or of the wild places in the human soul. Other times I'll just reflect on the domestic life outdoors. In any case, I hope you enjoy. Let's ramble!
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2 Responses to Up at Jack’s

  1. Mel says:

    Walt, trying to get through all my favorite blog readings this morning. Looks like I am behind a bunch. Hope all continues to go well on your trip to the waters of New Mexico. Enjoyed reading your post and seeing some of the scenery you have had the pleasure to enjoy. Nice looking Cutthroat. Stay safe!

    • Mel, Thanks for the kind words and also appreciate your thoughtfulness on the recent CO tragedy. Luckily the residents of CO and NM have beautiful country in which to step back and help them keep their heads on straight. I’m stepping lightly, taking care. Happy casting to you.


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