While exploring Cruces Basin Wilderness in Northern New Mexico, I realized it was one of the most beautiful places on earth, and that working my farm and land and building the strawbale house is just providing a home base and a solid sustainable basis for my life dreams. My real dream has always been to be a hermit in the woods. So, Im going to train up and spend at least a year in the wilderness alone. I don’t want too be too old for this, so Id like to go sometime in the next 6 years.. by my 33rd birthday I should have begun.
I called the Forest Service/ BLM office in La Jara and they told me that I can pretty much go anywhere in the wilderness areas. The only restriction would be that I have to move my camp about a mile every 2 weeks. He made it clear that 100 yards doesn’t count. But Im sure I could get away with a half mile or so. Either way I wouldn’t have too much stuff, the point is to be in the wilderness. So my gear would be limited and a mile wouldn’t be a big deal. Still every 2 weeks for a year could get tiresome. Ill have to ask if I can move back to a spot Ive been before after a month or two, then I could make a sort of loop of campsites that I travel every 2 weeks and return to the first one after 1-2 months and so on.
Preparations and Steps:
- Loose weight, get in shape.
- Become extremely comfortable camping, work up from 1 night solos to 1-2 weeks at a time. Eventually camp for a full month preferably during changing seasons to acclimate to this. Camp several times during winter.
- Become proficient at snowshoeing.
- Know how to build a snow cave and debris shelters/ wikiups.
- Learn the plants. Memporize poisonous plants and practice identifying and cooking safe plants. Learn medicinal qualities.
- Eat fish. Or, learn to trap and prepare small animals.
- Forest gardening. Inquire about this – tho Im guessing it wont be allowed. Ideally plant some beans, corn, squash, spinach, etc in a small garden in the woods that is accessible from all my campsites. Dpo a practice run closer to the road so I can experiment before heading out. Possibly make a mobile greenhouse/coldframe
- Internship with Robin, spend at least a total of a month studying and learning her skills.
- Acquire a satellite cell phone, a good gps, excellent camping gear, wool clothes, etc
- Learn to use a topo map and compass
- Develop observational skills. Learn the landmarks.
- Take at least 10 hikes into the area to become familiar
- Be proficient in first aid
- Learn avalanche safety
- How to survive the winter? Research and practice methods for extreme cold and snowfall camping. Figure out a food source. Maybe need to meet Eric right before winter on the road and pack in some canned foods.
- Study water quality. Cattle grazing? Get water tested near proposed campsite region.
- Possibly bring a dog? Protection, companionship, hunting, could pack some gear. It would have to be able to hunt its own food, or I would have to hunt food for it. Should be accustomed to raw unprocessed meat.
- Try to find somewhere with a lower elevation, less than 10,500 ft. Should be near a water source, but not on a steep slope or flood plain. Not blocked too much to the south to allow the sun in during the winter. Some tree cover. At least 1.5 miles from the road (can move further in with later camps but start not too far, and winter return within 3 miles of road)
South San Juan Wilderness:
Pros – very remote, alpine lakes means less or no contamination. Cons – steep canyons, rough terrain, high and higher altitude. Moving camps might be difficult. Lots of snow and extremely harsh winter.
about 2 miles west of FR 250 on the way to platoro – Hansen Creek, Canon Bonito.
Or the next canyon south, on south fork Conejos river, seems wider, less slopes, climb over ridge to get clear south face, about 2.5 miles WSW of 250. Canon Escondido.
Hmm on second thought – both of these canyons are in the area with the most trails and the most populated in the whole wilderness. L Still might be worthwhile to check out, maybe find a secluded spot. See Conejos Peak Trail and South Fork Conejos River Trail.
Cruces Basin Wilderness, NM:
Lots of good places here that I saw, lower elevation, less slopes. Trees and open grassland, beautiful. Water contamination from cattle grazing worries me.