Saturday, November 22 – Rough Mountain, NM

During the night, a coyote came into camp – standing just a few feet from one of the boys. A Great Horned Owl parked in a tree nearby and hooted all night long. It’s odd to see them here in the daylight. In Michigan, we rarely see them even at night.

Since we didn’t get over Rough Mountain pass yesterday, this morning we discussed whether to hike up the Animas Valley towards Bercham Draw (as originally planned) or go investigate Rough Mountain’s north pass. Because the most widely used Battalion trail guide supports a route that isn’t the logical one, we decide to see if there’s evidence to support that route.

The locals accompanying us tell us that in the early 1960’s, a bull-dozer was used to carve a road up to the pass. That modern trail is getting washed away and there is little evidence to support the Battalion traveling this way. Nearly at the saddle, to the left of the road, there is some indication of an older road, but below, where it counts, there is no evidence of trail swales, artifacts, road improvement (such as seen at Cooke’s Pass on Nov 13 & 14) or any other consideration that would make this their likely route. Because of the bulldozing, it the trail WAS here, it is buried now, but truthfully,I don’t think it was ever here.

If we can find an old map that shows where the period road went, I think we’ll have a better feeling about what the truth is concerning this section of the route. We retrace our route back down to camp, catch a lunch, pack up and head back to town.

When I get back to the trailer, I reread the journals VERY carefully – about six days worth of notes and notice that the day AFTER the Battalion marched this section, Colonel Cooke wrote that they had gone over “a low mountain pass.” So, there is good evidence that Rough Mountain is NOT how they crossed the divide and went a more logical way - probably over Whitmire Pass.

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