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, March 4, 2012

Hitt Canyon

Don’t you hate it when the barista in your local coffee shop chain asks for your name? I always want to say I can’t tell you because I’m in the Witness Protection Program or better yet, give them some silly name. 
“What can I get started for you?” “I’d like a bravo skinny mocha frap-a-dilly with extra syrup...hold the whip though, I’m tryin’ to lose weight.” Your name? —Snort!— Ebenezer. Is that with an S or a Z? —Giggle— You can just call me Eb. Would you like to donate a dollar to help fight... NO!

You are probably wondering what coffee has to do with running? Well, it just so happens to be an important part of my post run ritual. Experts agree that coffee tastes better after a chilly morning run, so I usually brew up a pot while I do my stretching. I’m thinking about a cup of Joe right now as I run a lonely dusty road to Hitt Canyon in the Franklin Mountains near N.E. El Paso, TX.
If you haven’t been out to this part of FM State Park lately, you are missing out. mountain bikers and volunteers have added new trails and some handsome signage to help you get to where you are going. 

Visit Geobetty.com for maps, directions, and mileage for all the trails. A new “iron ranger” will greet you when you enter from Chuck Heinrich Park though, so don’t forget to pay the $4 toll before you run, hike or bike.
As I run along, I see a large animal up ahead. Is that a mule deer? When I get close enough to get a good look, it turns out to be a jackrabbit. Everything is bigger in Texas so no wonder I thought it was a deer. 

The route I run is a straight rolling stretch with a few very steep sections. After passing through the Bowen Ranch, I come to a small square cinder block building that looks out of place in the middle of the desert. On closer inspection, I discover that it is a well kept vault toilet. Well now, doesn’t that just beat all! The only thing missing out here is the Push-button recorded natural history kiosk. —“The peaks before you were formed by tectonic events that occurred 70 million years ago during the late Cretaceous. The Laramide orogeny and the Rio Grande Rift...”

Feeling a little disappointed that I don’t have to relieve myself, I take a left turn and proceed up the canyon. In about a mile I reach a stock tank and windmill. The telltale sign that this is or was a working cattle ranch. After passing the windmill, I see a trail that forks to the left. This is the way over a mountain pass to the west side. I hope to circumambulate (yes, it’s a word, look it up) the entire Franklin range someday.

I keep straight though, and then bear right on a single track bike trail. This takes me into an arroyo that leads back to whence I came. I run through the dry wash for a while all the time wondering if I’m supposed to climb out at some point. Water has carved a vertical wall out of a conglomerate of rock and soil. Trees with tiny thorns line the drainage and it is a matter of time before my thigh gets snagged on the scratchy vegetation. 
Finally, I meet the road again where a steep incline awaits me. I better walk this one. I make it to the top and pass the comfort station again, but I still don’t have to go. I roll along on my merry way and then come to the ranch. I still have an hour to kill, so I take the less direct Lazy Cow Trail. Barrel cacti with mountain peaks in the background make it a scenic wonder. Groups of bikers are out in force now because the weather is gorgeous. I reach my starting point for a total of 3 1/2 hours of running. Time for some java and something to eat.
I forgo visiting my local coffee chain and stop instead at my favorite diner. The New Clock, home of the $1.99 breakfast, has been operating here since the 70s. For the price of a latte, one can enjoy two breakfasts, but I don’t. This is the place to go for your post workout carbs where no one cares what your name is. 

See you on the trail.

The New Clock Restaurant: 8409 Dyer St, El Paso, TX, 79924


  1. Greg, this was a fun post. I laughed out loud at your discovery of the restroom. I recently came acrossed it, too, and my reaction was similar. :) When you actually need one, usually there isn't much more than a sotol bush accomodation!

  2. That is true, we usually have to be creative when we have to go in the desert. Choose your spot carefully!