Monday, January 5, 2015

Selden Canyon Area( Cedar Hills, Selden Hills)- "Mushroom" and " Flying V" Canyons loop hike

 I did this nice loop hike using 2 of the 3 major,but nameless, canyons between  Buckle Bar and Lytten Canyons on the east side of the Rio Grande. This area is south of Tonuco Peak and north of Radium Springs and may be referred to as the Cedar Hills, Selden Hills or Selden Canyon.
   We parked at a pull out across from the Broad Canyon Dam. A couple years ago we could drive on the road that went down to the banks of the Rio Grande, but now there is locked yellow gate, barring vehicle  access. We made our way down to the river. I let Seamus( the Scottie dog) run around, chase birds, slip on the ice, get wet before finding a convenient place to get up on the other bank. I couldn't see anything of the entrances to the canyons until we were on the other side of the concealing wall of salt cedar. We walked along the railroad tracks for a short ways until we came to the first canyon. This first one, which I'll dub Mushroom  Canyon because of a rock formation halfway up, was a narrow, rocky delight. Although it is much more easily negotiated than the bouldery canyons in the Robledos, there are two dry waterfalls which must climbed around in very loose rock- I believe it was the disaggregated  grayish purple andesite with large with autoliths( xenoliths?), but it could have been the ever abundant ( in these parts)sedimentary boulder conglomerate.

  Eventually,  the canyon we were walking in became a small sandy arroyo, amongst grassy gentle desert hills with creosote, barrel cactus and yucca. We went up the  ridge to the south. At the top we had fantastic views to the Organs, the high points of the Cedar Hills and the snow dusted Robledo Mountains. Down we went on a long arm that extended to the  adjacent arroyo below. In contrast to Mushroom Canyon, Flying V canyon( named after a petroglyph panel I found there, where a being appears to be riding on a vehicle shaped like the body of the iconic Gibson guitar) was a wide multi- channeled wash fed by uplands pleated by a multitude of parallel rills. For awhile I thought I was in the larger Buckle Bar Canyon to the south, but this canyon seemed smaller and just a bit steeper.

    I found one small petroglyph panel on a boulder at the entrance of a side ravine. Someone at a much more recent time had scratched a word beneath the ancient work, and most likely realized that this rock art thing isn't  as easy as it looks. A little bit further down I came upon a much larger panel( the Flying V) on the flat face of a boulder, which at one time must have been more accessible  to the artist, but was now perched awkwardly out of reach above the canyon bottom. We looked around in a large amphitheater with abundant boulders, but found  no other rock art. Most likely there is more, but when one is alone it's difficult cover a lot of ground closely. I was happy to have found what I had. Update( 1/16): It occurred to me walking by the Flying V panel, recently that the rock art may be continued on a broken off piece of the boulder that now lies with side that potentially holds more petroglyphs face down in the sand.

We went under a fence and over the railroad tracks, and then through a passage lined with salt cedar needles, back across the " river" and finally to the truck.Note: As far as I can tell this hike is on NMSU property, although it is not posted  No Trespassing, policy may change at any time. In addition, be aware that there is private property along the Rio Grande. Do not a cross posted areas.

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