Tuesday, December 30, 2014
Doña Ana Mountains- east side
My original idea on this day was to hike down Cleofas Canyon and hopefully find the petroglyph site I had read about. I was initially encouraged that the Chihuahuan Desert Nature Park was now open on Sundays. Previously, it had only been open Tuesday through Saturday,opting to be closed, one of the two days available to working families.
Alas, I had forgotten that just a short ways past the park's parking area the main access road through the Doña Anas is gated and locked. I suppose I had known this previously, but I had talked myself into thinking that only the north half of the range was off limits. The sign is interesting. It only states " Not a through road. Private Property." Actually it is through road, if it were open. The "private property" belongs to NMSU, a publicly owned university. The sign does not say " No Trespassing." A smaller sign ask that we not drive around the gate. I immediately looked to my left to see an improvised road going around the hundred or so feet of low pipe fence that extends from the gate. I thought about driving it, and then reconsidered and parked, keeping up my policy to not trespass with my vehicle, where it is not wanted.
We started walking, stepping over the low fence, and continuing on the road. I thought much, about the all the exploring I used to do in this range, and felt there must some better solution that to just try and keep people out altogether. On the other hand, the exclusionary tactics seem to have to created a pristine and peaceful place for those of us willing to walk and break a few rules. This is in sharp contrast to the west side of the Doña Anas with its trash, makeshift shooting ranges, and heavily traveled web of"improvised" roads.
We enjoyed our walk in the plain amongst the peaks, gaining elevation gradually until we came to the range's divide, where the drainages change from flowing to the Jornada and now flow toward the Rio Grande. We explored only a short ways down Cleofas Canyon, before constraints of light and the locking time of the gate back at the park had us turning back. The petroglyph site would have to wait for another day and a different starting point. The shadows and hues of the magic golden hour were upon us as we returned. The gatekeeper was already waiting,but we arrived in plenty of time.