Thursday, February 4, 2010

Franklin Mountain Trails

In my post a few days ago I talked about the trails in the Franklin Mountains, so I thought I might share with you some views of and views from these trails. I've been walking in the southwest side of the Franklin Mountains State Park, which, despite abutting west El Paso, is nowhere near any of the park's formal or maintained trails. As you can see from this view looking east to Gunsight Notch and South Mount Franklin, this is not territory through which you'd want to bushwhack. There are a lot of spiky plants--agave lechuguilla, Spanish dagger, prickly pear, yucca--and many thorny bushes whose names I do not know. The trails, such as they are, meander along the lower slopes and up into the canyons, where they peter out as dry stream beds.

Some of the trails are paths that people follow as they walk or bike. Others are disused and overgrown jeep tracks that were abandoned after they were used to place the poles for the power lines. In some places the trails have been washed out by torrents from downpours. In other places the trails just kind of end. That's where you figure out that you're simply the latest person to follow a hint of trail to the point where everyone has realized that it wasn't really a trail, with your footsteps in both directions just adding to the misleading trailness.

Yes, that's the trail--one side of an old jeep track heading up to the low point next to the shoulder of a bluff. When you get to the top, you earn a panoramic view of El Paso and Juarez extending to the southwest.

To the left is about where UTEP is. The smokestacks of the old Asarco smelter stand along the Rio Grande. In the center, Mount Christo Rey rises along the Rio Grande right on the border. The stripes to the right of Mount Christo Rey are dirt streets in Anapra, a poor, dusty district on the edge of Ciudad Juarez. And Mexico's Juarez Mountains define the horizon. What amounts to a goat track (if we had goats here) heads right from the jeep track to the top of the bluff. In fact, the informal nature of the paths, combined with the rocky terrain, often makes it hard to spot trails at all.

This is the trail leading from a wash to the top of the bluff. It runs for a while over solid rock. The first time I was at this spot I missed seeing the trail entirely and walked right past it. I noticed, later, that someone had piled up a small cairn near the trail. As I explore and stay watchful, I'm beginning to piece together the outline of the trail network.

No comments:

Post a Comment