Saturday, April 14, 2012
Doña Ana Mountains- camping
The Dona Anas used to be one of favorite stomping grounds for hiking and exploring. Along with the nearby Robledos, they are the closest mountains to my house.The Dona Anas are not a typical fault block range like most of the mountains in this area. Lacking a distinct ridge line, they appear as a cluster of large and small, but usually very steep peaks, and are the uplifted and eroded remnants of a volcanic caldera. There are many little joys to be had while hiking in the Doña Ana Mountains: winding arroyos, small natural arches, a few old mines and prospects, petroglyphs and grinding holes, and, once you get off the beaten path, a sense of peace and perspective so close to the city. Once we even camped out there. This was back in 2003 on the night in February when the space shuttle Columbia disintegrated coming back down to earth. We set up on a little natural platform tucked back among some peaks on the northeast side of the range's high point (and one of only two named peaks here) Doña Ana Peak. There was some graffiti marring some of the large boulders, which was a little worrisome,but we spent a peaceful, cold night underneath the Milky Way. The next morning we went for an improvised hike up over some low saddles, down and up an arroyo, making a small loop back to our camp. Along the way I took pictures of a perfect little beauty of a natural arch, and my wife took a picture of me next to a very large barrel cactus. We both were dismayed as we gazed back at Las Cruces at the thick haze created by the annual burning of trimmings in the pecan orchards( this continues still, there's got to be better way). I'm glad we made this little trip when we did. Las Cruces is too big now( it's beginning to surround the range on three sides) . I wouldn't feel comfortable camping so close to the city now . The reason large parts of these mountains are either off limits or with limited access now is because of vandalism and irresponsible behavior. Note: the route we used to get to the area where we camped is now only open during times when the Chihuahuan Desert Nature Park is open. There are other ways to get there from the west and south,but the roads may not be suitable for many vehicles and will require high clearance, 4wheel drive.