Monday, February 27, 2012
Picacho Mountain(Peak)- Box Canyon
I've visited each of these places once, even though they are very close to Las Cruces. We hiked Box Canyon that runs along the north side of Picacho Peak back when we first moved here in '98 or '99. Didn't take any photos and don't remember much,except sticking close to the canyon walls for shade. A friend of mine recently told me about some perennial springs in Spring Canyon which is small tributary of Box Canyon. I thought it would make a nice little late winter, after lunch day hike. Seamus (my Scottie dog) and I started out from the parking area at the top of the mesa,before the road descends roughly into the canyon. We had walked less than a mile when we saw and heard some folks standing on the dam popping off round after round from their pistol. Call me overly cautious, or whatever you like,but I don't want be anywhere near young men shooting off guns. Once again, just like my experience in another part of the Robledos, they didn't seem to be shooting at anything( like a target) or being particularly consistent or careful as to the direction they were shooting. I have to say this kind of activity,so close to residential areas, and with bicycle riders, horse riders,hikers with pets and children frequenting the area, is just not appropriate. It may be legal,but that doesn't make it right.Oh well, if I ever visit this area again, I'll go on a weekday. It is pretty scenic but on the weekend there's too many people and too many bullets flying. And if I want to go to those springs, I'll visit in the late fall and hike in from the west side and avoid the main road and the dam area altogether.
I climbed Picacho Peak a few years back,starting from the lower Apache Dam walking along the road , and then crossing over the narrow ridge into the lower end of the above mentioned Box Canyon.We then went cross country up the north side of the mountain,which is quite steep, achieving the peak in short order. We descended using the road that's on the east side which leads directly over the ridge and back into Apache Canyon and to the dam. On my way back from my recent trip I saw about 20 or more Texans, who for some reason had each driven their own car up from El Paso( I assume), parked along the road getting ready to start a hike. I thought to myself that the Robledo Mountains area is suffering from the same problems as the Organ Mountains do on weekends: too many people, irresponsible people, and conflicting recreation agendas. Still, I've enjoyed many hikes here in near or complete solitude even while walking on roads. The problem in the Robledos is that "net" of roads and jeep trail. More and more people are using them. And where vehicles go, trash and problems follow. I hope my imagination is up to the task of finding more obscure locations here for my adventures otherwise I might have to retire the Robledos altogether, but I believe I'm pretty much done with the obvious locations, at least until the management of these place experiences a major overhaul. Note: there are many routes to climbing Picacho Peak. Directions to this area and a route for a loop hike to both of these spots are in Greg Magee's Day Hikes and Nature Walks in the Las Cruces - El Paso Area.