Monday, September 30, 2013

Salado Canyon Trail-Lincoln National Forest

 This trail is the alternate hike to Bridal Veil Falls. We used the Bridal Veil Falls trail back in the Spring. It was already a little too late in the year so it was hot. It was still a little early for Salado Canyon, so it was hot again on Sunday(9/29/2013) as well. It was probably only about 80,but these trails are below the transition from desert to the pinon-juniper scrub forest, and are completely open to the sun,except right along the creek where the occasional cottonwood provides shade. Salado Canyon trail, which starts couple of miles west( and several hundred feet lower down) of the Bridal Veil Falls trailhead on FR 162 C , is just a continuation of the  Bridal Veil Falls trail on the same long abandoned railroad grade. There is parking for 3 cars at the trailhead. Initially we hiked down hill and northwest to get to the main trail. We could see the new bridge built upon the old trestle downstream(to the west) from us, but didn't hike to it. It would have been  only a short ways, but it's all down hill( which means up hill on the way back) and in the opposite direction of Bridal Veil Falls. The forest service map shows the trail continuing for a little ways beyond the trestle to the west where it dead ends ( I presume) at private property. We headed east and did a steady climb up to the falls. The trail parallels the highway above and the creek( which was flowing) below. It would have been nicer to be down on the creek, and we did detour once the trail brought us down to stream level, so Seamus the  black Scottie could take a dip in it's cooling waters.
          Perhaps because of the railroad, and other hard use of the land, Salado Creek, despite the fact that it  carries water most of year, is a far cry from more luxuriant riparian areas nearby such as Fresnal Canyon and Tularosa Creek. There are very few native riparian trees, although the invasive salt cedar is much in evidence. One  highlight of the hike was an easily distinguishable anticline( a sign points it out).  This is a geologic formation where rock layers are bent upwards. When we arrived at the  falls,we had the place to ourselves this time. Oddly enough,  the falls seem carry only slightly more water than they did back in the very dry spring.Much of our area received heavy rain in September, so I expected a more prodigious flow. The hike to the falls is a little over 3 miles roundtrip, if you tack on a walk down to the trestle, make it 4. It would be a convenient shuttle hike to link it to the Bridal Veil Falls trail if  you were using two vehicles.

Sunday, September 29, 2013

Spring Canyon- Robledo Mountains

 I tried to visit this canyon once before but was put off by some less than safety conscious individuals shooting off the Box Canyon Dam. This time there was no one there. I parked on the dam and admired the substantial lake that had built up behind it, caused by the recent late summer rains. I started hiking north, up through a gap between two hills and then down a rough trail to an open( and green!) valley. I then proceeded northwest,climbed a low ridge and knew I had found Spring Canyon and it's water by the abundant greenery in the arroyo and from the lingering cattle. In a short distance, I came upon the muddy,gray spring which was supplying a trickle of water to one of three,small circular concrete tanks. It wasn't exactly a scenic spot, but it was interesting to see a spring of any kind in the very dry Robledos. I continued upstream and the canyon walls boxed in. They were shades of rust and pale yellow and perhaps 50 to 75 feet high-very pleasantly scenic. There was a trickle of water flowing through the sand as I made my way further up the canyon, climbing through  a jumble of huge, red conglomerate boulders.  A small pour-off with a muddy pool  was easily gone around and as I forced my through some salt cedar branches in a very narrow part of the canyon, I came upon the hide and bones of  a cow. There are a few old, large junipers in the canyon as well, and in one was a great horned owl- who flew off, just as I was getting ready to snap it's picture.
      Eventually the canyon got shallow and topped out. I walked across the mesa to the next canyon to the north, where there was an amazing abundance of wildflowers. In fact, everything was wonderfully green, especially the octotillos which were fat with  a new growth of leaves. Along the way,there were birds flitting about, tracks in the sand(left by a skunk I think) and a some very interesting looking green rock which I'm sure caught the eye of some prospector way back when. I worked my way back to the mesa directly above Spring Canyon, so I could get some photos looking down into the canyon. Then I walked back to the mouth of the box and followed an old road back to Box Canyon Dam. Back  at the dam I picked up some trash left behind by some thoughtful firearms enthusiasts and then drove home.