I have been trying to find the loop route all the way around the Franklin Mountains for several years now. I knew one existed because of the Puzzler Mountain Bike Event, a 50, 35 and 13 mile race and, new this year, a run of full or half marathon. (See map of route)
|Hearty trail runners Mike, Angelica, Ryan (L to R)|
During several trial and error runs through sections of the mountains, I often found myself in a dry wash wondering which way to turn next. After the publication of the GeoBetty Map, I was able to find my away around much easier and, earlier this year, I solved the puzzle.
My next goal was to run all the way around the course at one time, which would mean a 23-25 mile run. To finish that distance in the summer would mean caching water along the route so that is just what I did. With the help of my dogs, I carried bottles of water several miles into the mountains from Anthony’s Gap, NM and also dropped some off at the State Park on Transmountain Rd in El Paso, TX
|Sierra and Lucy on a water stashing mission|
|Ryan gettin' it done!|
|Miguel doesn't even look tired|
Once at the bottom, we forged on towards New Mexico through a 6 mile stretch of isolated desert. The trail here winds along sharp curves and dips in and out of many steep cut drainages in the alluvial features of the lower slopes. After running through a large arroyo for a short distance we turned right and started climbing back up the mountain.
|Zigging and zagging up to Northern Pass|
After passing through a dry wash, we continued on a dirt road to the Bowen Ranch windmill and stock tank. There was no sign of Ryan, our lead runner, so we assumed he made a dash for home since he is familiar with trails on this side of town. At this point we were all feeling the effects of the sun and were ready to be done. So much so, that Angelica could only think about cold beer and lime.
This is a tough route with spectacular scenery, so consider running the Puzzler on January 19th, 2013. If 26 miles is too much for you, the half marathon will be well worth it.
See you on the trail.