Spring is a great time to hit the trail in the desert. All winter long I brave cold and darkness to keep my running routine going. Everything looks brown and dead in the mountains of the Desert Southwest and our only respite is the occasional dusting of snow which brightens up the landscape. When winter finally breaks, strong winds and dust storms plague us, but at least the temperatures rise and wildflowers and cacti start to show their stuff.
I’ve had some great training runs in our Franklin Mountains here in El Paso, TX in the last several weeks. To get ready for the Jemez Mountain 50 Miler I’ve been training on North Franklin Peak (7192’). Several friends joined me on an epic trip up to the summit and then all the way around the mountains for a total of 32 miles.
The remoteness of the route requires us to stash water beforehand so I went out with my dogs to drop some on the North end of the state park. I actually enter from New Mexico and run a three mile trail into Texas. Surprisingly when I arrived at my usual cache location, I found a cooler half buried in the ground, marked with an orange pennant and full of bottled water. The park rangers recently started to stock it for mountain bikers, hikers or any other lost souls who may stumble upon it. Nevertheless, I added some of my water and a few gatorades to their supply and also hide some in my secret spot.
The trip around the mountain range was brutal with several long steep climbs, jagged rocks everywhere and loose gravel that made the footing slippery at times. The sun and temperature got the best of us as the day wore on and we were definitely ready for the gatorades when we arrived at mile 22. After rehydrating we made a climb back over the mountains and descended the other side. Usually we run into a little yard gnome on the way down, but I didn’t see him anywhere and fear that he was swept into Hitt Canyon during heavy monsoon rains last summer. Very sad indeed.
The best part of a heavy monsoon season though, is the color it brings in the spring when wildflowers flourish. The drab lifeless desert transforms into something that could rival your local botanical garden. You just may have to look a little harder and get down on your hands and knees from time to time, but the reward is well worth the effort. I hope you enjoy the pictures as much as I enjoyed taking them.
See you on the trail.
|Texas Rainbow Cactus|