Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Exploration Begins

I had elected to set up at the Vogel Canyon picnic area. It's OK to stay overnight there, and it has a dry toilet. Vogel is a small side canyon of the Picketwire Canyon. I've visited it before, so I knew that there were some short trail loops and ancient pictographs. This trip, I was hoping to find a way to get directly down into the Picketwire Canyon so that I could ride up into the part of the canyon that has other attractions such as dinosaur tracks, stage line stations, and a historic ranchsite. The normal way to access that part of the canyon, upstream about 10 miles, is through the Withers Canyon Trailhead. See the map below:

The red arrows show the way I was hoping to find. The green shows the normal way.

Vogel Canyon was pretty in the morning light. I dropped in there and checked out the pictographs.

Bunny rabbit?

Clearly rattlesnake. Note the dumbass graffiti in chalk below.

After I stopped to check out the cool evidence of early residents, I headed down canyon to see if there was a way through. I quickly encountered a barbed wire fence. I decided that I wasn't going to start crawling over fences this early in the day. I decided to ride the normal way down to the Withers Canyon Trailhead. This involved taking to a wide open prairie dirt road. The cold crosswind worked me over for 7 or 8 miles, then became a tailwind as I headed south on Otero County Road 25.

I reached the trailhead a little over 2 hours after I left the tPOD. I dropped down into Withers Canyon then rode into the Picketwire Canyon:

The old stage road in the Picketwire Canyon. Note the telegraph pole to the right of the roadbed.

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