Friday, January 18, 2013

Robledo Peak, Lookout Mountain- Robledo Mountains

On top of Lookout Mountain. Robledo Peak in background.
 January seems like a good time to write about these hikes. The two times we've hiked to Robledo Peak were both in January. The hike we made to Lookout Mountain( the other obvious high point of the range a mile or so to north of Robledo Peak)  was in late December, 2000.  It was our first longer excursion in the range and we were using Greg Magee's Hiking Guide to Dona Ana County for our directions. I'm grateful to Greg for introducing me to so many  places to explore near my home,but this hike of his is just overlong. Starting out off of Faulkner Canyon  we had hiked  up an arroyo, trudged across a  long mesa for close to three miles  and the real climbing hadn't even begun yet. We used the road to the top of Lookout Mountain to begin to go up,but then decided that going cross country would be more direct. We  slowly walked among the stunted junipers that grew along the ridge,battling the wind all the way to the top. On the summit is a tin shack and  what are believed to be the remains of a heliograph station built back when nearby Fort Selden was an active military installation back in the 1880's. We tried to cut our distance for the hike back and descended more or less straight down the northwest side of the mountain, got back onto the mesa, and then into the arroyo and finally back to truck as night fell. My wife's knee was totaled and it was a very painful return trip for her
 When I wanted to hike Robledo Peak( the Robledo's high point at 5,890 feet) I drove  most of the way on the road that took us all way back to the arroyo that runs between the two peaks.This is a side road that takes off to the southeast  a short ways after the Faulkner Canyon Road goes around a dry waterfall.An old windmill used to indicate the turn-off. It may be still there. This side road is pretty rough in spots. I remember my old 2WD Isuzu Rodeo had some trouble with one steep pitch,but it got us there. Both times we parked up on the mesa rather than make the very steep descent into the arroyo where the road continues for another  mile or so before ascending to Lookout Peak. At the mouth of second side canyon coming in from the south we followed some vehicle tracks which  ended shortly as the walls closed in, and the number of boulders increased. We kept a southeast bearing and eventually encountered a very useful use trail that took us all the way up to a saddle with views of the entire southern portion of the  Robledos.
  The first time we climbed the peak, we ventured way too far to the northeast, trying to find an easy way around,before having to turn south back towards the peak. The second time we just went straight east from the saddle, which was steeper,but shorter and less  sketchy. There was glass jar in a cairn with a sign-in notebook. We read the  entries( I really enjoy this aspect of climbing less significant peaks-seeing how often they're climbed, when and by who) and signed in ourselves. From our car this hike is a little less that four miles round trip- considerably less than the 11 plus miles we slogged when doing the trek to Lookout Peak. I've collected some nice calcite specimens on the way to Robledo Peak, which is  composed of Permian era sedimentary rocks. The reddish looking  Lookout Mountain is an igneous intrusion. The views of the Rio Grande Valley from either peak are tremendous. These trips epitomized the lonely and remote beauty of desert mountains. I'm always glad to remember these hikes. I hope these mountains stay wild.  Just writing about them makes me want to get back out there again.

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