We hiked down the road, crossed the streambed and then went up and up on a cow/ deer trail heading west. We topped out on a beautiful mesa, golden with dried grass. Now, the walking was easy and scenic: the expanse of desert lowlands,winding arroyos, and distant mountains was on our left. To our right, the towering, highest peaks of the Sierra de las Uvas. We passed one intriguing canyon, that I thought had some potential to hold petroglyphs or other evidence of ancient( and perhaps not too ancient) Indian peoples. I decided to reserve it for the return trip( thinking at the time that I was making an out and back journey). A second canyon , I decided to explore a bit. It was pretty rough,with boulders and thick brush. I got a nasty scratch trying to power my way through some juniper branches. Didn't find rock art or bedrock mortars. One boulder had the look of having some very old lines,but it was so covered with lichens that I couldn't really convince myself no matter how long I looked at it. Another flat topped rock had a suspicious pattern to it,but from a distance it was hard to tell( wish I had the binoculars or even my camera), and there was no safe or easy way to get to it. We ( Seamus the Scottie and I) moved on back to the deer trail on the mesa. Soon we were coming up to the large canyon that begins directly south of Magdalena Peak.
We made our way off trail to a tributary canyon that came in from the east. This one had a few hollowed out natural cisterns, but they were small and filled with sand, and had no signs of use by ancestral Native Americans.We made it down to the big main canyon,which I call Candler Canyon because it eventually becomes Candler Draw out in the flat country. Here, it had high cliffs, huge boulders and very,very old junipers with enormous trunks. It works it's way sinuously out to the desert, and there seemed to be many perfect places that could and should( in my wishful thinking) have rock art, but I saw none. Truth be told, a stray scratching could easily be overlooked,but it seemed that this was no well used area despite its similarity to good sites nearby. The big difference though is that those places have holding places for water and this canyon didn't. I took a few a pictures, starting at the beginning of this trek,but only remembered now that I was out of the canyon and not returning the way I came, that my phone( forgot the camera again) has this idiotic necessity of pressing save after taking a picture.I sat, ate and rested under a lonesome juniper out where the shady canyon had transformed into sun baked desert arroyo.
I had decided I was going to make this hike into a loop, I just wasn't quite sure how. We headed east across the plain cut with shallow rills and arroyos. We eventually turned back to the northeast and the mesa. I saw some low gradient hills that would to take us up easy and of course we quickly lit onto a good cow trail. It was on this trail, on what I came to realize was the west side of Silva Canyon, that I spied some petroglyphs on a boulder below. It's strange how you immediately know that you're seeing something and not just the random pattern of erosion. I have a saying about petroglyphs, "where they are, they are, and where they're not, they're not, no matter how much you want them to be," and in places like this so far from the Rio Grande,they are where water holds and not anywhere else. Sure enough, nearby, there were large depressions that can hold water for a time,and least one deep bedrock mortar. We made our way up the canyon. I found a couple of antelope etchings I had gone right by back in the fall,but not much else.
I think a top to bottom survey of the canyon is warranted, perhaps with a car shuttle.We finally found ourselves back on the plateau and lingered a bit, looking at the many flakes of flint,agate and jasper on the ground. It was clear that this was a place to be. Earlier on I had heard voices while down in the canyon bottom, and now realized that it was folks para-gliding or flying. It was beautiful, their silhouette against glow of evening sky.