Monday, Nov 10 – Foster’s Hole, NM

Karl Wood of Las Cruces has been helping us make arrangements in this area. He’s also helped with scouting out the trail for us and directs me to what he feels is correct place to leave the Rio Grande Valley – westward through Montoya Arroyo.

The Peterson trail study back in 1971 didn’t have the luxury of knowing exactly where Foster’s Hole (aka “The Lost Well”) was located. Consequently, that study estimated the 1846 group left the river near present day Hatch. Since the wells location is now known, we can ‘backtrack’ their directions and distances to better estimate where they departed the Rio Grande. I’m interested in a place a little further upriver from Montoya based upon some of the journal comments.

As Denny drives us down Interstate 25 from Caballo to Hatch, I’m looking out the right side window to the west. Cooke’s Peak is in the far distance with Nutt Mountain, Round Mountain and other landmarks in the foreground and changing relative positions as we move south.

BEHOLD! Just as we pull opposite Montoya Arroyo, the major landmarks align almost as if on a spit. Is it possible this is where they left the river? It would make sense for following landmarks, so I follow Karl’s advice to hike Montoya to Foster’s Hole.
This is a perfect example of why local investigation is essential. From the overhead photos and book research, there’s only so much that can be done – only so much that can be understood. So, that’s one of the major goals of the Trek, to go get the local experts to share their lessons, to evaluate that information and incorporate it with all the other information and arrive at a better understanding of the Battalion’s route and experiences.

Arriving at Fosters in the late afternoon, Denny, Karl and I clamber over the hills photographing and looking at the water basins described by the 1846 group. The Battalion was ecstatic about finding so much “good” water. I’m ecstatic about finally being here, but let me tell you, “good” isn’t exactly how I’d describe the water quality. An Eagle Scout project back in the 1990’s placed an impressive marker at the Hole and I’m happy to report it hasn’t been defaced, vandalized or carried off.

Karl and I discuss the Battalion’s final approach to the area. Were they on the ridge north of the Hole or the ridge to the south? Both routes have merit but only a closer examination of the sites will/may provide an answer. Anyone interested in conducting a field trip?

Just at sundown, we pile into Karl’s truck and head back down to the Rainbow Ranch headquarters where we are camped for the next couple nights. The scouts from TorC meet us there. They’re going to hike with us tomorrow over to Macho Creek spring. We all bed down for the night.

I’ve got a trivia question: why do clock hands move “clockwise” when the sky moves “counter-clockwise?” Since timekeeping is related to the sky, it would seem they should move the same direction. I know that way back when, there were some clocks with hands that did move “counter-clockwise” like the sky. Why did our present method win out over the more logical sky-direction of travel? Would appreciate any insight that could be offered.

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