Sunday, February 28, 2010

West Potrillo Mountains- Organ Mountains Desert Peaks National Monument

I decided I wanted to hike to an "unbreached" cinder cone in the West Potrillo Mountains. Many of the cinder cones in this region are blown- out on one side, or otherwise eroded so that they don't have a perfectly surrounded depression in the center. Some do, however, and so I got onto my topo map software and then Google Earth and found reasonably accessible one about 4 miles west of Mt.Aden, which is located right along the Southern Pacific south of I-10. There are a maze of roads out in this area, some are good, some pretty rough, and some long forgotten. So, if you're not handy with maps or a GPS, it can be little confusing. I consider myself pretty handy, and I still got off on the wrong road for a mile or so.The hike wasn't particularly exciting; crossing over desert arroyos and flats that were once sand dunes. I saw many jackrabbits. They all looked plump and healthy. I also saw several different raptors, including what I thought was a peregrine falcon. The terrain near the cone is pretty rough with volcanic cinders and rocks. It's about a 200 foot,steep climb up the cone. From the rim, there was a good view of Aden Crater and lava flow, as well as Mount Riley and the higher peaks of the West Potrillos. The highlight of the trip was coming upon the tallest barrel cactus I've seen in Dona Ana County. It was over my head, and standing all alone in a sea of creosote. Not the most interesting hike,but a beautiful day.

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