Vacation 2009 - Part 13

May 20-21, 2009

This is part 13 of my 2009 vacation. On Wednesday, May 20 I left Garden Grove, CA at 3:00am and drove 760 miles to Las Cruces, NM. My plan was to spend the night in Las Cruces, then spend Thursday doing some hiking in the area. I would also spend Thursday night in Las Cruces, then head for Llano, TX on Friday.

The I-10 bypass around Phoenix goes through some pretty desolate area. [01]

Along the I-10 bypass around Phoenix. [02]

Still about an hour west of Tucson. [03]

Texas Canyon rest area on I-10 in Arizona. [04]

On I-10 approaching Las Cruces, NM. [05]

Thursday morning, on the way to Dripping Springs. Go east on University Road about 15 miles from Las Cruces. Along the way, University Road will become Dripping Springs Road. [06]

Go straight ahead to the Dripping Springs Visitor Center. (I'll discuss Baylor Canyon Road later.) [40]

Weather doesn't look too good. But my choices are to hike in the rain or sit in a hotel. I'll hike. [07]

The road ends at the visitor center. You must pay $3.00 for a day use pass, which must be displayed in your car. [08]

The Dripping Springs trail begins at the Visitor Center. It is 3 miles round trip. [09]

I don't plan on climbing the rocks, and I won't pester the rattlesnakes so I should be OK. [10]

Old railroad tank car which was once used as a water tank for watering stock. [11]

Stunning rocks. [12]

Along the Dripping Springs trail. [13]

Along the Dripping Springs trail. [14]

Sign about the livery. [16]

The livery. [15]

The livery. [17]

Along the Dripping Springs trail. [18]

Boyd Sanatorium. [19]

Sign about the Boyd Sanatorium. [20]

Boyd Sanatorium. [21]

Trail to Van Patten's reservoir, above Boyd Sanatorium. [22]

Sign at Van Patten's reservoir. [23]

Van Patten's reservoir. [25]

Rocky runoff which feeds the reservoir. [24]

Boyd Sanatorium from above. [26]

Dripping Springs. [27]

Sign about Dripping Springs. [28]

Ruins at Van Patten's camp aka Dripping Springs resort. [29]

Sign about Van Patten's camp. [31]

Ruins at Van Patten's camp. [30]

Ruins at Van Patten's camp. [33]

Ruins at Van Patten's camp. [34]

Ruins at Van Patten's camp. [35]

There is a nice shaded picnic area at Van Patten's camp. The Dripping Springs trail ends here. [36]

The return trip. That's Las Cruces in the distance. [37]

Along the Dripping Springs trail. [38]

Me on the Dripping Springs trail. What about the rain? When I bought my permit at the Visitor Center, the ranger told me that it was the first rain in four months. When I began my hike it was raining pretty hard, so I wore my poncho, but the rain stopped after about half a mile, and I didn't need the poncho again throughout the rest of the day! [39]

Having completed the Dripping Springs trail, my next objective was Baylor Pass. The pass can be approached from the western trailhead, shown here on Baylor Canyon Road, or from the eastern trailhead at Aguirre Springs Campground. Baylor Pass is 4.5 miles from the west, or 2.0 miles from the east. My time is limited, so I opted for the eastern route. [41]

To get to Aguirre Springs Campground, continue on Baylor Canyon Road to Hwy 70, then go east through the town of Organ, over a San Agustin pass. About a half mile beyond the pass you'll see this sign on the right hand side of the road. [89]

This is the eastern trailhead, located on the Aguirre Springs Campground road, across from the horse corrals. [42]

Sign at the eastern trailhead. [43]

Another warning sign.... [68]

I'm just going to the pass, so it will be four miles round trip. [44]

You can't see the pass, but it's to the left of that peak. [45]

Along the Baylor Pass trail. [46]

Along the Baylor Pass trail. [47]

Along the Baylor Pass trail. [48]

Looking down on the city of White Sands. [49]

Snake on the trail. [50]

I prodded him with my hiking staff to get better pictures. [52]

He's kinda pissed now. He attempted a strike one time, but I kept my distance. [53]

I'm a little embarrassed to admit that I don't know what kind of snake this is. I don't think it's a rattlesnake. There is no rattle, nor is there any sign of there having been a rattle. But he seemed to have the ability to mimic the behavior of a rattlesnake. For example, he flattened his head so it took on the triangular shape of a rattlesnake's head, and he made a hiss which would fool anyone (or anything) who had never heard a rattlesnake before. Now if it turns out that this is a rattlesnake, I'm really gonna be embarrassed! [54]

Along the Baylor Pass trail. [55]

Along the Baylor Pass trail. [56]

Looking down on the city of White Sands. [57]

Along the Baylor Pass trail. [58]

Looking east from Baylor Pass. [59]

Me at Baylor Pass with the city of White Sands in the background. I used my SPOT transmitter here. Here's the message:
Bill Qualls check in OK. All is well. No worries. 
ESN:0-7380190  Latitude:32.3834  Longitude:-106.579 
Nearest Location:not known  Distance:not known  Time:05/21/2009 14:22:14 (US/Central),-106.579&ie=UTF8&z=12&om=1

Looking west from Baylor Pass. You can see the trail one would have hiked from the western trailhead on Baylor Canyon Road. [62]

Looking east from Baylor Pass. [63]

Along the Baylor Pass trail with White Sands in the background. [64]

Yucca along the Baylor Pass trail. [65]

Along the Baylor Pass trail. [66]

Almost back to my car. Campers are beginning to arrive at the campground for the holiday weekend. [67]

Now for my third hike. The Pine Tree Loop trailhead is also located within the campground, about a quarter mile from the Baylor Pass trailhead. [69]

Well, there are some pines up there. [70]

Yet another warning.... [71]

Trail map. I went clockwise. [72]

Along the Pine Tree trail. [73]

Along the Pine Tree trail. [74]

Along the Pine Tree trail. [75]

Cactus blossom found along the Pine Tree trail. [76]

Along the Pine Tree trail. [77]

Along the Pine Tree trail. [78]

This spectacular rock is Sugarloaf Peak. [79]

Along the Pine Tree trail. [80]

Sugarloaf Peak as seen from the Pine Tree trail. [81]

Along the Pine Tree trail. Baylor Pass in the distance. [82]

Along the Pine Tree trail, with Sugarloaf Peak in the background. [83]

Along the Pine Tree trail. [84]

Sugarloaf Peak as seen from the Pine Tree trail. [85]

Primitive Camp at the half-way point. Elevation 6880'. [86]

Weather is threatening again. [87]

Weather is threatening again. It didn't start raining until I got back to my car. I have really been blessed with good weather throughout this entire vacation! [88]

Upon my return to Las Cruces, I had Mexican dinner at El Comedor in Mesilla. It was wonderful. [90]

After dinner I took a walk around Mesilla. It has a lot of very old adobe buildings. This is the San Albino church in Mesilla. [97]

I went inside the church and sat in the back as a service was ending. I asked one of the parishoners if I could take a picture and he said yes. Beautiful, isn't it? [91]

The parishoner I talked to was Paul Gallegos. (I hope I got his name right.) He spent about half an hour telling me about the history of the church. He showed me a small room in the back of the church with artifacts, including these old vestments. [92]

The parish was founded in 1852! [94]

This church is now a minor basilica, something which Paul is very proud of. [93]

This is the cornerstone of the church. Paul told me that his grandfather was one of the parishoners who helped build the church. The bricks for the church were brought from San Rafael, NM. It took one month to make the dangerous round trip to obtain wagon loads of bricks. Bricks were collected for two years before construction began. Paul told me that as a young man he asked his grandfather how many bricks each wagon could carry. His grandfather shook his finger at him and said, "Don't ever ask me that question again. It wasn't about the number of bricks. It was about the sacrifice." His grandfather rang the church bells for 60 years until he died at the age of 92. His uncle then rang the bells for 53 years. Now Paul rings the bells, and has been doing so for 17 years. What tremendous faith! [95]

Copyright © 2009 by Bill Qualls. Last updated May 28, 2009.
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