Monday, January 21, 2013

Souse Springs to Las Uvas Spring Hike- Sierra de las Uvas

 I devised this hike after a friend told me about visiting these places( by truck) this summer. Friday night  I put some waypoints in my handheld Garmin and  Saturday morning off we went( Seamus the Scottie and I).The road to Souse Springs is off NM 26  directly across from the Hatch Fairgrounds. It is navigable by 2WD passenger cars  all the way to the springs in dry conditions. I took my high clearance truck but it wasn't really necessary. I had to open and close one gate just after going under the railroad overpass. Souse Springs is on private property. Please be respectful if you go. There is corral, a trailer with a lawn and pruned mesquite trees. Cows and horses wander about. The spring has been contained with concrete and iron cover. Water gushes from a three inch pipe and is also piped several hundred feet downstream to three concrete troughs at an improvised picnic area.The area looked a little raw in winter. I'm sure it's much prettier in a funky kind of way when the many large trees have leaves and  the brush has greened up a bit.A short way further down the road is an old stone house and area big enough to park. This hike was entirely cross country and pretty rough walking. We were saved at times by relatively flat and clear corridors along the mesa tops.These paths follow the contours of the hillsides and occur at semi- regular intervals. They almost look man-made, as if someone had built little check dams many years ago, but I believe they are an erosional feature. The paths are easily seen on Google Earth so I know I wasn't just imagining things.UPDATE: these are a man made feature,apparently built by CCC workers.
 We went down and up, up and down, crossing several arroyos. This is a part of the desert that rarely sees human or canine footprints, I thought, and wouldn't it be nice it there were a trail through all this creosote,  rocks, and mesquite.It was rather hot in this shadeless terrain so we drank and rested twice in the first mile and a half. At the waypointed nameless arroyo we turned south from west.A short while after resting in the shade of an undercut bend,we climbed out of the arroyo just before a dry waterfall with several large junipers.We emerged onto a large gently sloping basin with views of  a northeast facing, long, high ridge whose steep slope stays in shadow throughout the day in these winter months.
        One thing I'm learning about cross country hiking in the desert is that you have look for a point in the curves of an arroyo to bring you down gently.When I forget this, I am frequently end up standing  on a sharp cut bank that is just too high to jump down.Well,  we made it to the road which was my second to last waypoint ( after searching for a crossing)and now only had a quarter mile to Las Uvas Spring. The GPS said straight south. I had my doubts. It just didn't feel right,but I obeyed. I got to where the GPS was saying the spring should be.There was only one problem- it wasn't there.
      I decided to head west, all the while looking up at the cliffs for some indicators of a spring which is little harder in the winter time. I had walked over a small ridge onto a flat when I saw some green that wasn't a yucca or juniper and  cluster of brown vine that I surmised to be dormant wild grape. I had found the spring.  I climbed up to the base of the cliffs and then down to a short passage way that was almost  completely shaded by the vines.  A small cave contains the water. I didn't shine my flashlight in there so I can't say how deep the water was or how extensive the cave. I did fill up bottles. Seamus wasn't that interested in the water, which worried me a little.He was more curious about investigating the tunnel through the vines. Later, he drank the water with no ill effects. I would have purified it had I remembered the batteries for my Steripen.
       I  ate lunch back down on the flat against a boulder that had several grinding mortar holes in it. It was comfort to sit and think of the people so far removed from my experience who sat and ate at this spot so long ago. We did some looking around and then headed back pretty much the way we came. I would recommend visiting these sites, but not necessarily the hike I made.  It was very rough and there was little to make it interesting along the way, except perhaps the abundant chalcedony and occasional agate that littered the ground. The best scenery doesn't start until more than 2 miles in.My hike was a little over seven miles round trip. Elevation net gain  was only about 400 feet but there is a lot of up and down. Note: The topo and BLM maps are wrong. The spring is about a quarter mile to the west of where it is indicated.
Second Important Note:Though not posted at this time both Uvas Spring and Souse Springs are on private property.

1 comment:

Eric said...

Nice hike and cool place