Showing posts from September, 2013

Valley of Fires

Location: Carrizozo, New Mexico
Date: September 15, 2013

My original plan for September 15 (after hiking to Sierra Blanca on the 14th) was to do a 10-15-mile loop hike through the northern portion of Lincoln National Forest's Smokey Bear Ranger District - possibly through Argentina Canyon and to Argentina and Nogal peaks. But forest road 107 into the area from state road 37 was in terrible condition. The previous year the Little Bear Fire had burned most of the forest in the area, and it had also rained for each of the six days prior to my visit. So it appeared that road 107 had gone unrepaired for quite a while and was covered in potholes, ponds, mound of sediment, and other obstacles.

I instead went to the Valley of Fires Recreation Area, just northwest of Carrizozo, which is a relatively short drive from the above mentioned portion of Lincoln National Forest. The main part of the recreation area consists of a campground, a paved trail, and a visitor center. For being a Bureau o…

Sierra Blanca, New Mexico

Location: west of Ruidoso, New Mexico
Summit elevation: 11,981 feet Elevation gain: 9.3 miles round trip Date: September 14, 2013

At nearly 12,000 feet in elevation Sierra Blanca is the highest point in southern New Mexico and the highest point in the state outside of the Sangre de Cristo Range. Sierra Blanca dominates the area and rises 7,800 feet above the Tularosa Valley to the west. While much of the hike crosses Lincoln National Forest, the peak is in the Mescalero Reservation, and you're apparently supposed to obtain a permit to hike to the summit, but from what I've seen I don't think many people, if any, actually get a permit (there even seems to be doubt whether a permit even exists).

So I drove to Ruidoso and on to the Oak Grove Campground along the road to Ski Apache on Friday evening. It was raining when I arrived, and it had actually been raining for the previous five days, causing some flooding in the area. It rained much of the night but mostly stopped by ab…