Monday, January 17, 2011

Sierra de las Uvas-Organ Mountains Desert Peaks National Monument

I've hiked in these mountains many times. I've visited the well known petroglyph sites in Valles and Broad Canyons on several occasions . I've also visited a lesser known site at Apache Flats, and another one that I happened upon by accident, that I'm sure very few people know about. I've done the hike to Big White Gap a couple of times and even found one of the few remaining pinons on the southeast end of Pine Canyon.On Monday I did one of the nicest hikes I've ever done here. I started at the end of the paved road,walked a short ways to the Choases Tank and then headed west up Choases Canyon. At the saddle I picked the almost indistinguishable remains of a road that heads down to Kerr Tank. I originally planned to summit the alternative highpoint(peak 6601, only 25 feet lower than the off limits Magdalena Peak),but it looked impossibly steep from this vantage point at it's very base, so I decided I didn't have time for the seven or eight hundred foot trudge up the peak. Instead I hiked down the mostly wooded ,Kerr canyon on some good cowpaths eventually making a short ascent to the huge grassy plateau between the Mesa Azur and Sugarloaf Peak. I walked to the edge of the plateau to look into Pine Canyon,the largest valley in these mountains. There are good views here to Cookes Peak and the Florida Mountains. On the way back I found an alternate cowpath that stays out of the canyon all the way back to the tank. From there I followed the "road" I took earlier up over northwest side of Mesa Azur, where I picked up the paved road back to my truck. Beautiful day. Awesome scenery.Except for the obvious cattle gathering places,and the roads,this range is in a remarkably natural state and should be protected.

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