HIGH PLACES

Past the End of the Road

Rough and somewhat ready for a hike

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Exploring a mountain range for the first time is always fun.

Water – check

Snacks – check

Hiking boots – check

Sunscreen and hat – check

I hadn’t showered that morning, but I was at the meeting point at 8 a.m., so I guess you could say I was rough and ready. I felt just about right for a hike in the Rough and Ready Mountains.

It turned out at the trail head that I had forgotten my camera – maybe not so ready after all? These photos therefore are courtesy of Elaine Eaton, a fellow hiker in our little group of four people plus three dogs.

To get there: Take Corralitos Road (by the airport in Las Cruces) out for 12 miles and turn right toward the hills. Park where the dirt road peters out and find the foot path starting up the arroyo.

That path had started out years ago much narrower and less prominent, but the Rough and Readys have become an in spot for rock climbers in recent years and have seen more visitors than ever. If you follow the trail around the hill it will lead you to the climbing spots and you will understand why: almost vertical rock walls with ample foot and hand holds and coarse enough to offer traction. It’s any rock climber’s dream.

Our group headed straight up the slope instead of following the trail and soon we stood on top of the highest peak for miles around. Quite literally for miles around, because there is absolutely nothing but flat desert in all directions. What a view!

On our way down on the other side of the mountain, we spotted a group of six hikers and who would it be but the Ocotillos, my other hiking buddies. Big hellos and a quick exchange of “How was your summer?” and we parted ways again.

Skirting the mountain to the right and slowly descending to the desert floor we reached our vehicles again after only two hours and 15 minutes. A nice, not-too-hard hike for a beautiful fall day. Steven, our guide, did say, due to the exposure, it gets cold in those hills when the cold winter winds blow.

If you decide to go and stay on the climbers’ trail, be warned that it will peter out eventually and you have the options of either backtracking or bushwhacking. The bush is not too bad out there, lots of good size rocks and only smallish shrubs and dry grass make it a viable option, but if you prefer a real trail, you have to turn around and follow your footsteps back.

Elaine, my hiking friend (and photographer) had a somewhat rattling encounter with a snake, so yes, they are out there. Watch where you step and give them a wide berth.

Enjoy the cooler weather and stay safe out there.

See you on the trails!

(Mug) Of German origin, Gabriele Teich has called Las Cruces her home for more than 20 years — and loved every minute of it, hiking the mountains in the immediate surrounding area and all over this beautiful state.