Thursday, January 23, 2014

Geronimo's Cave- Robledo Mountains








 I did this hike with my friend Eric on Sunday. The existence of this cave only came under my radar within the last few years, although it's obviously heavily visited as far unofficial trails in our region go. It got me thinking about all the ways I've found out about all the destinations I write about in this blog.  It's hasn't always been easy finding the places that I've read or heard about. Information is  incorrect or sketchy, names get confused, access is limited and even maps are sometimes wrong( see" Conkling's Cave" or " Souse Springs" in this blog). Happily, I had some reliable info about Geronimo's  Cave and had a very high degree of confidence that we would find it without any problem.
      We parked off the levy on the east side of the river. To my surprise, there was a small amount of water flowing now. I was still expecting it to be bone dry as with my previous two outings to the Robledos this winter. Crossing  wasn't much of  problem though. We wandered around amongst the thorny and not so thorny shrubs on the west bank  a bit, moseying over to the long mesa that extends from the cliffs all the way to the river. Along the way there were bits of pottery, colorful flakes of jasper,  and deer tracks in the mesquite anchored sand dunes. We made our way, steeply, onto the mesa and in no time had found a good trail and were at the entrance to the cave- a tall crack in the cliffs. I attached my headlamp, we began exploring. There are some formations in the cave, which are no longer growing.Most have been broken off or marred by graffiti. I noticed that the air quickly got warmer and a little stale the further back we went. At some point, perhaps fifty feet in, there is no longer any sunlight penetration. Off to my right was a narrow passage, that went on for  more than fifty feet.One skinny individual had made it back there to paint his( of course it was a male) initials. I was intrigued but didn't venture. Another passage was above us. My friend said that he had heard there was another cave above this one, and when we were back outside we explored the ledge to  the south  but found nothing except some graffiti left by"Antonio" back in 2002. What is going through the mind of someone who carries a  can of spray paint up the side of a mountain to mar a natural setting like this? I have a few ideas, but  I would like to hear some others.
      We  followed  a trail,marked with red ribbon, down the long ridge.  It was so peaceful atop that mesa and felt so remote even though the farms along the river and I-25 were just a stones throw away.  Eventually the trail took us down easy from the mesa top. We meandered a bit as we returned. I found a  beautiful basalt mano, my first, stuck in the side of an arroyo. We encountered  a woman looking for rocks in another arroyo. She had driven in from the river on her large ATV. In a short while we were back at the car, completing a nice hike on a beautiful winter day.

16 comments:

apvnm said...

Hi! Great post.

Have you been in the Aldo Leopold along S. Diamond heading NW from the trail to Meown?

Thanks, Alex
vertikoff@gmail.coom

devon said...

No, I haven't but have always wanted to hike that trail down into South Diamond. It's one of the few major streams I haven't been to in the Black Range.

Grace G said...

I live near this mountain range, but have no idea how to find it specifically... Where on the river levy did you start out, approximately?

devon said...

We accessed the levy road where it takes the river takes a big turn to the northwest away from North Valley, but Hope Road or Cactus Patch Way are good access points. The big mesa that comes all the way down to the river is what you are looking for. You will find several trails leading to the cave.

Donald Taylor said...

Back in 1957, my best friend and I in Las Cruces Union High School made several attempts at exploring Geronimo's Cave.

Local legend at the time said that the cave got the name because the U.S. Army chased Geronimo into that cave back in the 1880s and thought they had him trapped, but he went completely through the mountain and escaped.

We made several attempts to locate this route through the mountain and explored several branches off the main cavern until they came to a dead end, and once we got way back in one of those branch offs and ran out of air.

My friend and I planned on making one more attempt to locate Geronimo's passage but never got around to it. We planned to take climbing gear and rappel down to the bottom of that large hole just inside the cave's entrance and look for a branch that would take us through the mountain.

Well, maybe in the next life.

devon said...

The quick change in the quality of the air surprised me and alleviated me of my urge do any more than a cursory exploration. There is also stories of a passage way that runs along the length of the Caballo Mountains.

Linc Leapley said...

Well managed to find Hope Road, turn upriver on the leve road drive to a point just accross from the mesa. Found a lightly marked trail up to the mesa. Hiked along the rim to the top then upstream accross the Mesa on a thorny but traveled trail. Rounding the corner found the cave. Nice medium difficulty day hike. Looks like a lot of climbing/caving oporunities in the area.

Gus said...

A friend and I went yesterday to explore the Geronimo cave for the first time. We had good flashlights and water and snacks expecting a long morning of exploring. It turned out to be kind of disappointing because it was nothing we had anticipated. We went through all possible passages, and I even ventured to climb down the large hole -the one you come across once you manage your way through the narrow and high crack to the right?- but there were no more holes, cracks, or passages to continue exploring. My friend has been told by a good source that there's a crack down there were you can crawl your way to a big room. I am thinking that I might have missed it, I don't know. I plan to go back and look for that passage again.

devon said...

I have yet to see any photos or a description of a big room. Just came across an area with many potential caves- see my Mineral Creek North Percha Blog. I've heard there are a few others in the Robledos as well.

Gus said...

Is it posible that we are mistaking the cave? I've been doing some reading snd Geronimo's Cave in AZ keeps popping up. Here's a description of how to get there according to a Blogger: "Begin your hike at the Peralta Trailhead, hike to Fremont Saddle, then take the cave trail to the cave. Turn around & retrace your steps to return to the trailhead."

devon said...

There is definitely Geronimo's Cave in the Superstition Mts as well. And the legend of him evading his enemies via a passage through the mountain apparently applies to both localities. I've read at least one old timer talk about the New Mexico Geronimo's Cave and what beautiful place it was before it was vandalized, which made me believe there had to be more to it, but I, like you, was disappointed, as I believe many other people have been.

Richard rougemont said...

How do you get or geronimos cave?

Unknown said...
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Robert Meraz said...

I wonder if there is a way to clean up the graffiti In the cave?

Robert Meraz said...

I was just there this past Saturday, such a
Beautiful cave , went in about 30 yard. Wanted to go further but was running out of time. I will go back and see how far the cave goes. Yes it is very disappointing that people can't see the beauty in nature and just leave it alone for other people to enjoy.

devon said...

I think there are special paints that can be used to cover up graffiti on rock surfaces. I don't what techniques there are for actual removal.