My friend picked me up at the Albuquerque Airport for a week of intensive survival experimentation, scoping out the Continental Divide Trail routes and some R& R.
While at the Gila Hot Springs, we met a wonderful couple touring the southwest in a blue bus 40 feet long.
I was invited to view my new friends living quarters and was amazed at the wonderful transformation from school bus to cabin. Native American jewelry and artwork, wood floors and an extensive kitchen created a fantastic ambiance.
But, off to more remote locations. Off at Apache Creek Campground, Brian and I scouted a rugged setting and found this ponderosa pine leaning over a dry creek bed. But it wasn't dry for long so next came the tarp lean-to, created with a 5 x 9 tarp, staked to a back log, secured above. Damp leaves were piled under the overhanging blowdown. Below you see the spacious emergency shelter. Sorry for the rain drops on my camera lense.
Next, Brian strung a massive blue tarp and built a Dakota fire pit, which proved to be quite welcome as the rain continued drenching the land. New Mexico in December? Bring warm clothes and rain gear.
We slept in the shelter that night, with sleeping bags and pads, after drying out gear over the fire. My gram weenie rainsuit was hung to dry after being my mainstay all day long.
Nearby hiking provided welcome relief from gathering firewood and leaves. We saw pictographs 600 years old, elk carcass gnawed by wolves, hawks and a rattle snake casing shed earlier this fall.
I highly recommend the Gila and Apache National Forests. Camping is free at many locations. There were fire pits, picnic tables and privies.
The Columbia Jacket proved very valuable when temps dipped to low twenties after skies cleared.It made a great pillow and its generous, zippered pockets came in handy when navigating airports.
Other major needs proved to be: several LED flashlights and head lamp, matches and lighters, fleece and wool socks, fuel for backpacking stove and a warm hat. I ate a lot of enhanced trail mix which I brought from Idaho, while Brian ate lots of fresh fruit and cooked on a camp fire utilizing all his truck camping equipment.