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."

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Soledad Canyon

Soledad Canyon
It’s no secret that I detest the gym. I pretty much hate everything about it especially the being indoors part. I belong to a brand new multi-million dollar gym that I have been using while my sore foot (plantar fasciitis) continues to heal. UT El Paso (UTEP) recently held the grand opening of the newest improvement to their college campus. 
This new recreation center has a three story rock climbing wall, 1/8th of a mile indoor running track, cardio machines galore, and much more. Unfortunately the pool is being renovated, so I’ve been slogging away on one of those elliptical thingys and riding a stationary bike.

I don’t know about you, but when I run, I would rather look at this...

...instead of this:

My gym as seen through the Miner's pick

Fortunately I have been able to run outside for 15-20 min a few times a week to help maintain my sanity.  This morning I’m in Las Cruces, NM to hike and run with my dogs. Soledad Canyon is just East of a rival university that shall remain un-named. 
We begin our little adventure at the trail head beside an Aermotor windmill. Windmills have been providing water to the arid west for around 150 years and they are still used today to water thirsty livestock.
Click to see how a windmill works
The landscape is very bouldery with brown grasses in the foreground, interspersed with alligator juniper and an occasional oak tree. I love seeing the gator skin like bark of the junipers. Interesting rock formations make up the surrounding topography. 
We start up the track and ascend a sloping prairie. The sun is just coming over the Organ Mountains and behind me is an awesome view of the Mesilla Valley. After a bit of hiking, we come to a fork and must decide which way to go. The directions from Localhikes.com say to go left towards the rock house. 
We make our way to the cabin ruin and stop to explore a remnant of days gone by. A small roofless cabin with several windows and a door jam stands at the foot of the mountains. What a beautiful spot this must have been to build, ranch, grow, and live. 

Of course one could purchase one of the surrounding adobe abodes in the nearby subdivision, but it wouldn’t be quite the same as what these homesteaders experienced years ago.
After a short break, we march on and enter Bar Canyon, a narrow gorge with a natural “waterfall”. After climbing up onto a rocky stream bed, a light blue and white flag comes into view high up on the mountain. What does it mean and who was resourceful enough to climb up there? These are the questions I would like answered, but must settle for searching for the elusive waterfall instead. 
When we arrive, the rocks are wet, but only a trickle of H2O is dribbling from above. Ferns, moss and other water loving plants are growing around this desert oasis. We can go no further into this canyon without scrambling up the waterfall, so we head back. 
I stop to check out some boulders and Taz decides that he is a rock climber. To my amazement, he scampers up a sheer precipice, turns around and bolts right back down again. His energy level is out of control. 
After another few miles of hiking we are back to our beginning point and I decide to take a short jog. I run uphill for about 10 minutes and realize how hot the temperature has become. The fact that the air is dry and I’m at almost 6000 ft elev. doesn’t help matters. I reach the top of the grade feeling completely winded, but turn around for a little downhill recovery.
The dogs and I had a great morning in Bar Canyon completing a 5 mile hike. It feels good to be able to run a little bit after 9 months off. I would much rather spend my time sauntering here in the wilderness than pedaling at the gym. 

See you on the trail.

New UTEP Rec center with the signature Bhutanese architecture


  1. Nice gym with nice kit, but give me the outside view anytime Greg! Totally agree. When I see people slogging their guts out on a treadmill hour after hour I wonder how they motivate themselves. For me (at the moment) it is the long term promise of the trails! :-)

  2. Me too. I hope to be able to do some long runs in the future, but I'm trying my best to take slowly. Thanks for reading.

  3. another great read, greg! and i agree- though the facility at your university looks state of the art, you can't fit God's beauty inside!!! i can't run (hardly), and hiking requires stamina i lost years ago. however, i am blessed because i live in the country! and so many beautiful places right out my door, or those within an hour's driving distance...one day i'll start my blog i keep saying i'm gonna do, LOL!!!

  4. Thanks, can't wait to read your blog.

  5. Hello, I am the Web Developer of the Recreational Sports Department at Utep, I will probably be using some of your photos while we take our own pictures for the RSD webpage if you don't mind. If you do mind please contact me through email so I can take your pictures out of the RSD webpage immediately.


  6. No problem, Enrique. Glad to help.