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The Cat Walk

Whitewater Canyon, NM

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For anyone visiting New Mexico, we can heartily recommend visiting the Cat Walk near Glenwood, NM. We were there on a glorious fall day in October 2011.

 catwalk01  The history of the Cat Walk goes back to 1883, when a pipeline was run down through Whitewater Canyon to provide water for a gold and silver processing mill. The original 4" pipeline was replaced in 1897 with an 18" pipe; both carried water three miles through the canyon. Here is the start of the trail at the mouth of the canyon.
 Although the foliage was a bit past peak, it was still a colorful hike into the canyon.  catwalk03
 catwalk06  The trail follows along the side of the canyon.
 Then one comes to the Cat Walk itself. In the 1930's, the CCC built a wooden walkway using the supports originally placed for the pipeline\; in 1961 the US Forest Service replaced the wooden walk with this metal one, still using the original anchor points.  catwalk44
catwalk45   Whitewater Creek flows about 10-15 feet below the walkway.....most of the time. The canyon is prone to flash flooding and the water can rise quickly and dramatically.
 It's rather amazing how narrow the canyon becomes.  catwalk43
 catwalk16  Continuing past the walkway, we cross a small bridge built atop a section of the old pipe.
 The canyon is a jumble of rocks - here we had to duck through a narrow opening. catwalk19 
catwalk27  The rocks on the cliff walls hang out over the trail. 
 All along the trail one sees cuts like this that supported beams for the pipeline.  catwalk32
 catwalk38 Looking back down the canyon. 
 Another section of the 18" pipe. catwalk39 
 catwalk40 Liz is crossing a bridge made entirely of fiberglass. 
 We're almost to the end of the trail. The last hurdle is this narrow suspension bridge with a mesh walkway. catwalk29
 
 catwalk48  See - we made it! Here we are at the 1.1 mile marker at the end of the trail. Now all we have to do is retrace our way back down the canyon.