It’s no secret that I detest the gym. I pretty much hate everything about it especially the being indoors part. I belong to a brand new multi-million dollar gym that I have been using while my sore foot (plantar fasciitis) continues to heal. UT El Paso (UTEP) recently held the grand opening of the newest improvement to their college campus. This new recreation center has a three story rock climbing wall, 1/8th of a mile indoor running track, cardio machines galore, and much more. Unfortunately the pool is being renovated, so I’ve been slogging away on one of those elliptical thingys and riding a stationary bike.
I don’t know about you, but when I run, I would rather look at this...
...instead of this:
|My gym as seen through the Miner's pick|Fortunately I have been able to run outside for 15-20 min a few times a week to help maintain my sanity. This morning I’m in Las Cruces, NM to hike and run with my dogs. Soledad Canyon is just East of a rival university that shall remain un-named.
We begin our little adventure at the trail head beside an Aermotor windmill. Windmills have been providing water to the arid west for around 150 years and they are still used today to water thirsty livestock.
The landscape is very bouldery with brown grasses in the foreground, interspersed with alligator juniper and an occasional oak tree. I love seeing the gator skin like bark of the junipers. Interesting rock formations make up the surrounding topography.
We start up the track and ascend a sloping prairie. The sun is just coming over the Organ Mountains and behind me is an awesome view of the Mesilla Valley. After a bit of hiking, we come to a fork and must decide which way to go. The directions from Localhikes.com say to go left towards the rock house.
We make our way to the cabin ruin and stop to explore a remnant of days gone by. A small roofless cabin with several windows and a door jam stands at the foot of the mountains. What a beautiful spot this must have been to build, ranch, grow, and live.
Of course one could purchase one of the surrounding adobe abodes in the nearby subdivision, but it wouldn’t be quite the same as what these homesteaders experienced years ago.
After a short break, we march on and enter Bar Canyon, a narrow gorge with a natural “waterfall”. After climbing up onto a rocky stream bed, a light blue and white flag comes into view high up on the mountain. What does it mean and who was resourceful enough to climb up there? These are the questions I would like answered, but must settle for searching for the elusive waterfall instead.
When we arrive, the rocks are wet, but only a trickle of H2O is dribbling from above. Ferns, moss and other water loving plants are growing around this desert oasis. We can go no further into this canyon without scrambling up the waterfall, so we head back.
I stop to check out some boulders and Taz decides that he is a rock climber. To my amazement, he scampers up a sheer precipice, turns around and bolts right back down again. His energy level is out of control.
After another few miles of hiking we are back to our beginning point and I decide to take a short jog. I run uphill for about 10 minutes and realize how hot the temperature has become. The fact that the air is dry and I’m at almost 6000 ft elev. doesn’t help matters. I reach the top of the grade feeling completely winded, but turn around for a little downhill recovery.
The dogs and I had a great morning in Bar Canyon completing a 5 mile hike. It feels good to be able to run a little bit after 9 months off. I would much rather spend my time sauntering here in the wilderness than pedaling at the gym.
See you on the trail.
|New UTEP Rec center with the signature Bhutanese architecture|