We passed the entrances to many ranches along the way. The most famous, the Slaughter Ranch, is now a museum. The name has nothing to do with a massacre but was named after an early settler, John Slaughter, who owned and ranched the land in the 1800s. Just past the Slaughter Ranch we came upon the San Bernadino National Wildlife Reserve, a 2,300-acre ranch acquired by the government in the 1980s to protect the water resources and provide habitat for endangered native fishes.
As the trail turned away from the border, I noticed that my Goodyear Wrangler MT/Rs were throwing up chunks of mud as big as hackie sacks. Soon after, my side windows and mirrors were so covered with mud as to completely block my vision. I went to roll down the window and the stick-on sunshades at the top of the door were full of mud, an inch or two thick along the whole top of the door. Thick, sticky clay-type mud. The call on the radio was requesting we pull over to clean windows and mirrors.
One of our diehard members, Moondust as we affectionately call him, was driving his YJ with a mesh “safari” top and hard doors. The one thing we noticed was the mesh top kind of acted like a sausage grinder for the mud chunks. His interior and gear was covered with raisin sized pieces of mud, along with both he and his fiancé who was making her first trip with us, along with Hercules their little lap, uh, Jeep dog. As always, members came to another fellow Jeeper’s rescue and we hooked up a small tarp over the top and down the sides of the Jeep with bungee cords to protect them and their gear from any further mud/rain.
It didn’t matter much how many times we stopped to clean our windows, the mud kept flinging the whole way into New Mexico. A very fun experience for those who like mud and a very stressful experience for the clean freaks who even admitted they were having fun too. One of the disappointments of this trip was our inability to visit Skeleton Canyon where Geronimo finally surrendered in 1886. The trail has been closed due to illegal immigration and smugglers. Funny how an area that was called “the old smugglers trail” in the 1800s is still being used extensively for illegal activities. Perhaps some time in the future we can revisit the Geronimo Trail and actually get to explore Skeleton Canyon.