Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Redhouse Mountain 2014


    This was the fourth time I visited this mountain with the prospect of climbing to the peak. The first time I followed Greg Magee's instructions in his Hiking Guide to Dona Ana County.  After a trudge to  the top of peak 6008( elevation), looking at a steep descent  and with still a  mile or so with a another up and down to get to the peak, we stopped. A second time , my wife and I ascended the canyon climbed over the hill to the east and then descended, very slowly, the steep hillside to  another narrow canyon which brought us back to the mining area. The third time, I made it to the peak( using a slightly different route than Magee's) on a very windy day( see Redhouse Mountain blog from 2010).
     This sunny day my friend Eric and I descended first east and then north into the nameless, all but hidden canyon.  The road is here in bits and pieces ,but one can always stay in the arroyo examining  the many samples of manganese minerals, calcite and quartz  that can be found.Once past the old mines, the narrowest part of the canyon stays almost constantly in shadow.  Because of this a cooler micro-climate, a few scrub oak, a rarity at this elevation, actually grow here.We climbed the couple of awkward chutes  and emerged into bright sunlight.  Walking  along, we saw a very strange grasshopper, and an unusual excavation in the limestone wall that seemed to be at an area with deposits from a spring.At the very top of the left branch of the canyon we looked down into a pretty little valley forested with junipers . Grasses grew out of the flaky green shale soils  on the hillsides. We spotted a good sized doe, and so did Seamus, who took off after it. Seamus disappeared in the brush,but in just a few  seconds we could see the deer bounding high up on the opposite ridge from where we were standing. Seamus returned and we continued on up to a  plateau( 6043 elevation) winding through the ocotillo and yuccas. We enjoyed the views all around which  were very clear despite the wind. The peak lay perhaps less than mile beyond, but time was getting short so this was our turnaround.  We briefly thought about returning by a different route, but with the short winter day we wisely chose to return the way we came.
 Thinking on the many places that I've visited in our desert before I was very interested in taking photos. I'm embarking on returning to many places this winter to document places that are fading a bit in my memory.This was the first.

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