About my blog

Welcome to my trail running site. I enjoy being on the trail where I can take in nature and clear my mind. I prefer running in the mountains, but anywhere rural will do. I have completed four 100 mile trail races and many other ultramarathons. I spend countless hours running in the Franklin Mountains in El Paso, TX. I call it "going to church". I'm a member of Team Red, White and Blue. "Enriching the lives of America's veterans."

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Baylor Pass Hike

15 Jan, 2010.  On today’s adventure I am graced by the company of my lovely wife Cara, her charming sister Adelle, and 4 of our four legged BFFs. Running up a mountain is not really the girls’ style, so I left my trail running shoes at home and opted for my hiking boots instead. We are on our way to Baylor Pass in the Organ Mountains of New Mexico. The trail head is about 10 miles east of Las Cruces and the weather is perfect for our 6.5 mile round trip. I was going to say 6 miles, but I was reminded all day about that extra quarter mile (each way).

We start out by observing the warning sign at the beginning of the trail. Everything must have a warning label on it these days and the Organ Mountains are no exception. Don’t attempt hikes that are too difficult…check; don’t hike alone…check; leave word where you are going…check; leave rattle snakes alone…double check. OK, we are ready now.

The first part of the trail is not too steep and takes us through some scrubby vegetation. Our dog, Lucy is kind of hobbly today as she injured her front paw on our trail run yesterday. We thought about leaving her at home, but that would be torture for her as she is always the most anxious to go on a running or hiking adventure. She troops along up the trail with a little limp, but doesn’t hesitate to go on a chase when the other dogs spot something. Like most ultramarathoners, Lucy does not know when to slow down, but “runs through” her injury.

I spot a plant and wonder if it is Mormon Tea which Cara verifies that it is. Mormon Tea or Ephedra was used by Native Americans and Mormon pioneers for medicinal purposes. Ephedra looks like a leafless plant with many stalks that remind me of tiny bamboo shoots. With a closer look though, you can see that it actually has tiny scale like leaves. The “tea” acts as a stimulant, diuretic, and decongestant, but has been used for many ailments over the years.

After a mile we start to climb up passing many boulders and interesting desert plants. We see Prickly Pear and Cholla cacti as well as Blue Yucca, Spanish Bayonet, Shin dagger, and Sotol. Sotol have long narrow serrated leaves that hang over the trail which really do a number on your legs when you run through them wearing only shorts. Fortunately we have our long pants on and are able to push them out of the way. I can’t help thinking that this area looks more like some otherworldly place because of all the strange plants, lichens, and various colored rock formations. One lichen actually looks like “The Blob”.

Soon we reach a nice resting spot where we enjoy a snack and some water. The dogs also have a snack and something to drink which they have been carrying in their doggie saddlebags. I’m often asked why Taz, our smallest dog, has to carry the backpack to which I respond, “because he has the most energy and I want to tire him out so he won’t be so crazy around the house.”

After two hours of hiking we make it to the pass and are rewarded with fine views of Organ, NM in the east, White Sands, NM in the west, Baylor Peak to the north, and Rabbit Ears to the south. We have arrived at the perfect place to have lunch and the weather is grand. Cool, sunny, and no wind. What more could you ask for? After enjoying our meal and snapping many pictures we start our trek back down towards our car. However, if you continue down the other side of the pass you will reach Aguirre Springs Campground for a total of 5.25 miles (one way).

On the way back down I notice an interesting tree. It is an Alligator Juniper which is named for the bark of the tree that actually looks like alligator skin. A while later the dogs are interested in one of the rocks we pass. I hear lapping noises and realize that they have found a water filled indentation in the rock. When I look, I see that the “tank” is a beautiful algae green filled pool. Yum! Our friends appear to like this water much better than the H2O that they have been carrying on their backs.

Soon we make it back down the mountain to our car. Everyone had a great time. Cara and Adelle both enjoyed the hike. Cara’s favorite parts were the yellow, lichen covered rocks and the high sections where you came around a corner and could see snow, trees and nice views. I enjoyed the interesting lichens and various plants as well as rock formations. We both took pleasure in having the company of Adelle, Ruegen, Lucy, Sierra, and Taz (“Little Boy”).

P.S. We made Lucy take a few days off and she is feeling much better now. I suspect she will be back on the trail in another day or so.

"Little Boy" sporting his Ruff Wear Saddle Bags

Cara and Adelle enjoying the view

View of the valley and sotol stalk

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