Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Franklin Mountains State Park: Ranger Peak

I packed up camp this morning and hit the road. I would be headed to the western side of the Franklin Mountains to the trail-head for the 1000 Steps Trail to ascend Ranger Peak. I took Stanton Road to its end and found a nice, shady spot to park in. I grabbed a bagel for breakfast, filled my water bottles, readied my gear, and then hit the trail.

The trail first followed some old roads. After about a mile it turned into an actual trail. The climbing was pretty steep. Soon the views opened up to the west. I had a bird's eye view to Sierra del Cristo Rey, which Noelle and I had hiked one Good Friday years ago.
Sierra del Cristo Rey
Then, about halfway up the peak I stopped in the shade of an old stone shelter, built by the power company in the '30s, to rest and drink some water.
Stone Hut
When I resumed my climb more views opened up to downtown El Paso and across the Rio Grande to Juarez, Mexico.
Downtown El Paso

Soon I arrived at a 3-way junction with the Ranger Peak Loop Trail. I decided to take the portion of the trail that headed south.
Ranger Peak Loop
It slowly climbed and then skirted the ridge on which the peak sits.
Hiking the Ranger Peak Loop
I passed another stone shelter and then climbed up to the peak.
Ranger Peak Summit
The Wyler Aerial Tramway was running and I watched as some people got into a car on the top and then descended to the parking lot.
Wyler Aerial Tramway
Then I walked around the small summit area before getting back on the trail. I took the Jackaloop Trail to the other side of the Ranger Peak Loop and then detoured off the official trail to take a look at the B-36D Bomber crash site. I had seen a sign on Stanton Street that mentioned the crash.
Bomber Info
There was a lot of wreckage scattered about. Most of the larger pieces of the plane had long been removed, but a section of engine
and some landing gears had been left behind.
Landing Gear
More Bomber Wreckage
Bomber Wreckage
There was also a memorial attached to a rock at the site, commemorating the lives of the crew who had perished in the crash.
Bomber Crew Memorial

From the crash site, I decided to follow the drainage in which most of the wreckage lies, down to the trail. Once back on the trail the hiking was fast and I was back to my car in no time!              

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