After finishing my Las Cruces Public Schools hiking group's trip to Box Canyon, I set out to the Sierra de las Uvas for a quick afternoon incursion. Once again I was in the Bell Top Peak area, in this case directly below the mountain in a sinuous little arroyo that I'm calling Meander Canyon. This desert creek starts on the west side of Bell Top heading south and then makes a big turn to the east, where it begins its series of deep horseshoe bends. The stream is mostly cut through soft,gray ash tuff and whitish conglomerates, but toward its mouth it winds through boulders of denser rock( which may also be ash derived).
After hiking in the canyon bottom,for my return, I climbed up to the bench lands on the north side that hang high above the arroyo,but are hundreds of feet below the steeply rising Bell Top Peak. Huge boulders and junipers that rose from the pale grass, along with the views down into Meander Canyon and beyond made this part of the hike much more scenic than the first leg down in the trenches. Having found much of interest the vicinity in recent weeks, I looked, but in vain, for rock art and others signs of prehistoric habitation.
Looking across the canyon to the mesa where I had parked, it was hard pick out my vehicle. Recently dyed brown from its brilliant Toyota white, it now blended in with the desert earth. Warning to those driving through those low water spots along the Corralitos Road: some of those puddles are deeper than you think and they all should be taken slowly,very slowly.
Sometimes I like doing these quick little hikes with a very specific itinerary, instead of long walkabouts.They're well suited to winter days, when you may not want to start hiking when the sun has barely come up and temps are still in the 20's.