Friday, January 6, 2017

Hersey Arroyo, Rock and Horse Canyons- Organ Mountains Desert Peaks National Monument

Hersey, Rock and Horse Canyons are three of the nine or so named watercourses on the east side of the Sierra de las Uvas.  Hersey Arroyo and Rock Canyon  run along the north and south  sides of the Barksdale Road ( Doña Ana County E006) respectively. Horse Canyon lies just south of Rock.
   Andrea, Seamus, Nessie and I visited Rock Canyon first on a cloudy  December 30th. We parked  at the first set of corrals one encounters on E006 when heading west from NM185. The canyon started off  shallow, but soon we entered the brief, but very scenic red rock box section. The narrows continue with cliffs of conglomerate that almost look like they're oozing. Eventually, the channel widens near where a very old remnant of a road comes down to the canyon on the south side. Past this point. it appeared the canyon had very little to recommend it, so we turned back. Back in the box section, I gave a closer look to the canyon walls and discovered a couple of petroglyphs.

 On Monday, I hiked Horse Canyon with David Soules. We did a loop  with the huge nameless arroyo  to the south, which I dubbed Kemado Canyon back in September. Horse, below Ward Tank, other than being deep, had very little of interest to offer us. We hiked out after exploring an equally uninspiring tributary and began crossing the rock strewn mesa above, heading south toward Kemado Canyon.   Walking over to the Horner Tank  dam  to avoid  the deep ditch just downstream, we then  walked east down into a side canyon just below the box section of Kemado Canyon The side canyon was a rugged,little detour and then we were off into the box. I was glad we were going back through this fun, rough little wonder, for both our sakes, as much of the hike had been a bit dull so far. Once out of the narrow section we found an old mine shaft that I must have walked right by the first time I visited here. As far as I know, the Uvas are not known for any deposits of minerals of economic significance, so  I am very curious as to what they were mining,  or what they were looking for.
 Soon we were hiking up above on the mesa  where the  road that is an extension of County Road E006A took us back to David's truck.
  Back at the corrals on Tuesday, Seamus, Nessie and I  parked and started off for the box section of Hersey Arroyo, while two free  roaming horses watched.  This certainly seemed like it would be the most scenic of the three( partly due, I'm sure, to the sunshine) almost immediately. Right below Hersey Tank was a collection of giant black boulders, every one shot through with veins and pockets of the blue, white and gray agate that is found all over the Uvas Range.

Further down, cliffs of deep brown and bold orange  rock edged the mesa ridges above us as the canyon deepened.Large bare desert willows were all along the  gravel banks. I eyeballed every likely looking boulder on the shelves between the channels, and every flat cliff face for rock art,  as well as the few bedrock shelves for grinding mortars, but alas, found nothing.
  I did find a rusty bandaid box though. When the canyon began to open up into a wash, we turned around. Seamus led us up side canyon that had deep pools of green water.

We climbed up on the hilltop to the south, then back into another bedrock side canyon, with a few junipers on its grassy hillsides, that led us back to Hersey Arroyo where we backtracked to the 4Runner. It was three good days in the desert

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