Thursday, January 28, 2010

Alamo Mountain Petroglyphs, Southern NM

I had heard about this mountain and the many Petroglyphs it held and had been wanting to explore it for some time now. Wednesday morning before the next scheduled winter storm I decided to do just that. The day was just right 60 degrees and partly cloudy perfect exploring weather. Alamo Mountain is located on the southern end of the Otero Mesa in southern NM. It is a vast grassland managed by the BLM with a small mountain chain to the south on the Texas border which includes Alamo Mountain.

The trip started with a drive to County Road 506 approx 20+ miles south of Alamogordo, NM. Once on the 506 it's approx 35-40 mile out onto the Otero Mesa and south to the mountain.

The Mesa is a large expanse with seemingly never ending roads.

The mountain is not marked and there are no signs leading to it or the parking area. So part of the adventure is finding it as there are many roads leading around the mountain. While attempting to find the parking area (which I had only heard of) I stumbled across this structure, it was in the shap of a W with 2 distinct rooms, again no signs or info on what it was, just at the base of the mountain.

I finally stumbled across the parking area and was feeling better (almost gave up)

Once at the parking area, you walk toward the mountain a through a small opening in the fenceline. Once through the fence there is no trail or signs leading the way, you just hike toward the mountain and begin exploring until you start to run across the Petroglyphs. It was quite a hike to the first ones, I won't tell you how to find them, as that is part of the adventure. Below are the ones I ran across, I was pressed for time so only checked out the ones in this area. There are approx 10,000 Petroglyphs on the mountain and only 10% have been documented.

The Petroglyphs are approx 150-300 years old and were left here by the Tigua Tribe of the Ysleta del sur Pueblo. More information on the subject may be found here:
View from the site north across the Otero Mesa to the southern Sacramento Mountains.

View to the west across the Mesa.

Looking down on the parking area, you can just see the dark speck that is the Jeep.

Time to head home, the trip across the Mesa take about an hour or so, it's a beautiful area surrounded by various mountain chains. This one will be on my list of places to return to for more indepth exploring.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Mill Ridge/Laborcita Canyon, LNF, NM

Monday being a holiday (MLK Day) seemed like a good time to explore a couple of areas we all had not been on before. I had done part of Mill Ridge but not all of it and Juan had done Laborcita Canyon but we hadn't so it sounded like a plan. Our little group (Matt, Juan and his wife Janet, and myself) took off around 12:00 for the trails (nice part is there just 15 min away) and spent the next 6 hours exploring the areas. Both these trails are in the Lincoln NF, NM, and the Mill Ridge trail begins at the top of a runaway truck ramp. Mill Ridge is not well travelled as the begining is gated (which deters alot of folks) but the gate is just to keep the livestock in. The gate held closed with a chain and a sign asking you to close it behind you.

The begining of the trail is pretty rocky and washed out.
Then toward the left branch leading to the Alamogordo overlook area, the road flattens out on top of the mesa.

We stopped for a quick break at the overlook to just take it all in. From here you can see across the White Sands area to the mountain ranges by El Paso and Las Cruses.

Then it was off across the unexplored area of the mesa which the trail ended at another overlook a few miles in, but not before a steep rocky washed out climb.

After again taking in the views, it was back down and off to Laborcita Canyon.

Talk about a complete change from where we just were, Laborcita Canyon is higher in elevation and winds its way through a heavily forested canyon. The trail is actually 2 connecting forest roads making the trail roughly 15 or so miles long. Took us just about 2 hours with stops of course.

Plenty of snow still left in the higher elevations (made for an interesting drive in a couple of spots) The canyon is a beautiful area, although you couldn't see very far, just the snow fall and the forest made it amazing. This will be a great trail to do in the fall.

Towards the end as the trail decends, it begins to open up to the desert foothills. The trail ends on Hwy 70 just outside Tularosa, NM. We stopped for a bit to recount the day before heading home.

That evening the sunset was beautiful, what a fitting end to a great day exploring the mountains with good friends.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

The Elusive Bridal Veil Falls

I heard about these falls in the local paper, but there were no directions or information about their location. Last week while out and about I stopped by the ranger station for info on them, well they must be pretty elusive because they had to get three different rangers before they found one who knew about them. He gave me directions (somewhat) and off I went to find them. Of course his directions and my sense of, ended up in a failed trip.

Well yesterday I was determined to find the elusive falls, I went down every road and trail in the area.......but still to no avail. After becoming a bit frustrated I decided to call it another day. As I was headed home some sights began to click in my head of what the ranger had said to look for (of course this was a couple of miles further away than I had thought). Long story short, It turned out to be the right trail, the hike from the parking area was about a 1/2 mile or so down into a canyon.

The falls are year round due to the spring fed creek and was a popular stop on the old Cloud Climbing Railroad which ran between Alamogordo and Cloudcroft. Funny, the falls are only about 15 mins from the house, but being unmarked and not advertised very few people know about them.

Monday, January 4, 2010

Coyote Canyon, NM

Last weekend a few of the member from Military Jeepers and myself took a day trip to Coyote Canyon Just north of Alamogordo, NM. All toll we had 4 Vehicles, 1 JK, 2 TJs and my WK. Besides the obvious of just needing to get out for the day, I also wanted to see how the Grand did in an off road enviorment, and I must say she did really well. The day was beautiful, sun was shining and in the upper 50s, the new year is off to a great start!!! The trail actually begins on the norther limits of Tularosa, NM and heads east into the mountains off of Hyway 54. Coyote Canyon is a road that follows a seasonal stream which it crosses several times during it's 10 miles.
Our group had to stop and survey the trail as it was washed out pretty good, about a 10' drop down into the washout. We looked around for a bit and found a way down into the washout.

Once down in the wash/stream bed you have two choices, you can follow the road, or the stream depending on how hard you want to make the trail. We opted for both, mostly following the road and occasionally hitting some mild rocky areas in the stream.

Due to the recent snow and snow melt the little stram was flowing and made for some really muddy areas (deep mud I should say) Occasionally this mud stopped our forward progress in its tracks, Not an area you want to do alone. Here Matt is assessing his stuckness...............


This trail can be from mild to wild, just depending on what you want. Here Zack is doing some of the moderate ledges of the stream. With no lift the Grand is not quite ready for those.

She did handle some of the milder ledges with ease.

Towards the end the stream becomes to narrow to drive and the road opens up into some nice open spaces.

Corral and windmill along the trail.
Lunch Break.

View from the trail.

The road follows a shelf up the side of a high cliff face and puts you out on a high mesa with beautiful views of the snow capped Sierra Blanca. Not to much further the road was gated at the Indian Reservation boundry so we had to turn around and head back.

Coming back down the shelf road.

On our way back to civilization, we ran across this poor guy, about as stuck as stuck could be!!!

Luckly I was able to get the Grand down that part of the stream bed. Hooked him up and with just a little effort had him out in no time. Gotta love that double locked hemi!!!

The day was winding down so we headed off the trail and toward home, however it wasen't to late to stop by Juans house for a few beers and story swapping!!! It was a great day to be out and with good friends it makes it all the better. This the first time we all ran a trail together and I'm sure won't be the last. So until next time, keep lovin your life as we do ours!!!