One of my ongoing efforts is to do more camping & hiking. Another ongoing effort is to post more trip reports. My posts here are a small fraction of the trips I have photos of, and those trips are a small fraction of what I have done. Well, this trip - and post - are a step toward doing and posting more. Yay!
One weekend in January 2018, I escaped from Socorro to do a bit of camping. Being January, I went to Springtime Campground in the San Mateo Mountains. It was quite a nice place to camp, especially this time of year. Cold enough that I had the campground almost to myself; there was 1 other camper. But not so cold as to require snow camping. Camping is so much nicer when you aren't squeezed in right next to other groups.
The tarp on the left is covering a jungle hammock that was a Christmas gift (and it is a lot greener than it looks in this photo). I didn't have stuff quite sorted out to sleep in it, but wanted to try it out. If you use these in the winter make sure you have some insulation below you; the bottom of your sleeping bag doesn't insulate well when it is compressed below you.
On Saturday I hiked up to San Mateo Peak. Not far up the trail is something that Karl should put on his Things I Find In The Woods webpage, if he ever makes such a page.
The thing was presumably some form of trailer, or maybe a horse-drawn cart. Whatever it was, it was very heavily built for its size, and had some sturdy suspension.
Much further up the trail is the remains of San Mateo Spring. Both the watering trough and the spring itself were bone dry. The prolonged dry weather is having a major impact on New Mexico's springs.
At the top of San Mateo Peak is a fire watch tower and associated hut. The hut is slightly less glamorous in person than what you see in this photo. It looks like the tower may still, occasionally, be used. But whoever works here sure isn't living in the lap of luxury on the tax payer's dime - unless you consider a small, falling apart, rodent-infested hut to be "luxury." However, it could be a great place for somebody to enjoy getting out on their own in the wilderness.
The fire watch tower was a lot more interesting. It is quite tall, and stabilized by guy wires (post tensioned with turnbuckles).
As an engineer, I always stop to admire a good turnbuckle. I really should add a "Most scenic clamping U-bolt of the year" section to Scary Bridges.
I was pleased to see a lack of no trespassing signs. Hikers should show the utmost respect to places like this. But it is annoying when the signs clearly fail to stop vandalism while preventing sign-abiding citizens from enjoying the view.
Or maybe they just thought the condition of the stairs up was more than enough of a keep out sign? They are in worse shape than you would suspect from this picture.
On the way back down I stopped at an old cabin, near San Mateo Spring. It was in worse shape than the fire watch hut...
After getting back to camp I had a nice evening. Being January, it got dark very early. A few years ago I was pleased to find that Coleman still sells gas lanterns. The fueled lanterns still provide more, nicer, light than any LED lantern I have found. They also provide some warmth. Propane works well in the summer, but not so much in the winter. If you go with a liquid fueled lantern, be sure to get one that burns unleaded. The price of white gas is insane.
The next day I packed up camp and headed out. I stopped for a half-day hike around the base of the San Mateos. Where I found a cabin in slightly better shape than the one by San Mateo Spring (but worse shape than the fire watch cabin).