Saturday, February 9, 2013

Windy Gap, Middle Spring- Organ Mountains

These are two obscure, one-off hikes I did  on the west side of the Organs. Windy Gap is the pass, or saddle that lies between the main  high sections of the Organs( "the Needles") on the south, and the Rabbit Ears complex to the north. I started off  from Baylor Canyon Road on the road that goes to the old stone building( see the Rabbit Ears Plateau hike in this blog). From there I headed southeast, crossing several ridges and gaining elevation. I passed a couple of old mines that don't appear on any map, and then began ascending the ravine that descends from Windy Gap Saddle. The  brush is very thick in this arroyo and the sides very steep and rocky.At times there was literally no where to walk but on top of the chamisa and other desert bushes. This was little dangerous because, even though they were very thick, they didn't always support my weight and I would rapidly fall four or five feet. I clawed my way up,passing some of the very few ponderosa pines that grow in the narrowest part of the canyon.The situation cleared up a bit just before the saddle. There were junipers, grass and remnants of a path that guided me to the top.The saddle is fairly wide and flat with room to camp. I enjoyed the views; to the Tularosa Valley to the east, and closer at hand, the massive peaks all around me. I ate my lunch and then made the treacherous trip back down. This hike was done back in the early 2000's when I had more ambition, energy and stamina to plan and execute off trail hikes in the Organs. Most of them(including Windy Gap) I have had no desire to repeat.

 My wife and I did the Middle Spring hike back in 2005. The starting point is also from Baylor Canyon Road about half way between the Baylor Pass Trailhead and the Modoc Mine Road. We started off cross country,but found some old,old roads that aided our ascent. We found where the spring should be, but it wasn't flowing. We wandered around to the south and ended up making our hike into  a  lollipop loop.We had gotten up high enough on the slope that the crazy maze of the arroyos and ravines the lead up to the rarefied  air amongst the high and low Horns of the Organs seemed tantalizingly close. I immediately started concocting trips in my head to places like the tiny gap that lies just to the north of The Spire, the first of the High Horns of the Organs. I would still make some these treks if I could find some intrepid soul who didn't mind walking at my 51 year old's pace. They're probably out there because I know I'm not alone in feeling the lure of high places in these rough desert mountains. That feeling has diminished some over the years, but there is something about the Organs that I know it will never go away entirely.

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