Monday, March 11, 2013

Organ Needle

This morning I woke up early and met friends Lee and Annie for the long drive to Las Cruces and the Organ Mountains. Today was the long-awaited attempt at the summit of the highest point in the Organ Mountain range: Organ Needle. We stopped at the Chevron station for coffee and breakfast burritos and then headed southwest into El Paso before returning to New Mexico at Anthony.

Once in Las Cruces we headed east to Baylor Canyon Road We parked at the junction of the Baylor Canyon Road and the Modoc mine road turnoff.
Organ Mountains photo OrganMountainsPano_zps27df8861.jpg
This was as far as Annie's car would take us, so we set off on foot at about 10:45. The hiking started off fairly easy with a nice gently ascending road that led up to the base of the mountains. Eventually we passed the Modoc Mine and the road turned into a trail. The hike on the trail was still fairly easy until we reached the Yellow Rocks.
Lee Approaches Yellow Rocks photo LeehikestoYellowRocks_zps2f5292ba.jpg
At the Yellow Rocks the climbing began in earnest.

From the Yellow Rocks it was a steep climb up to the Gray Emminence.
Annie on Ascent photo AnniehikestoGrayEmminence_zpsdc396795.jpg
We followed the relatively well-defined user trail around the Gray Emminence to a saddle commonly referred to as the Juniper Saddle. At this point Annie decided that she did not feel up to ascending any further. She told Lee and I that she would rest in the sun while we attempted to ascend to the summit. Lee and I bid Annie farewell and started climbing up a slick granite surface.
Looking Up Dark Canyon photo LookingtowardsDarkCanyon_zpsdbeefc14.jpg
We could look back and see Annie making her way over to her own summit, a small rock outcrop on the other side of the saddle.
Annie at the Saddle photo AnnieonMinorPeak_zpsd3d59c7c.jpg
Eventually Lee and I entered Dark Canyon. We found some scattered ice and snow in the cold, shady canyon and ate a snack in a sunny spot near the top of it.

Once we had ascended to the top of the canyon, we descended a bit on the east side of the mountain and then ascended a short class 3 pitch to a small ridge which led to the summit. We each took turns standing on the small summit block and took some photographs.
Eric On Summit photo EricSummit2_zps312954a8.jpg
We found an old wooden sign with some names carved into it along with the years 1935-6.
Lee and Old Wooden Sign photo LeeonSummit_zps0f54e3fa.jpg
After a short time on the windy summit we retired to a more sheltered spot amongst the rocks and signed the summit register.

After signing the register we started on our descent. Since the trails were full of loose rocks and scree we decided it would be best to spread out a bit to prevent the higher hiker kicking rocks down onto the lower one. This plan worked well and we made fairly quick time back to the saddle where we were reunited with Annie. After a short rest at the saddle we were ready to continue our descent. Again, we left plenty of space between ourselves to avoid kicking rocks onto each other. The loose scree of the trail made descent difficult and at one point I fell hard directly onto my right arm. The fall took me by surprise and I let out a groan that I've never heard myself make before. I initially thought that my arm might be broken, but after a minute I found I could move it pretty well. It turned out just a bit bruised, swollen and scratched.

While my fall turned out to not be a big deal, about five minutes after my fall, Annie twisted her knee. This turned out to be serious as she could not put much weight on it. We were only about half way down the rough, scree-filled trail and carrying Annie down would have been difficult, if not impossible. Luckily she was able to slowly make her way down on her own power. Still it was a slow process and Annie was forced to basically crawl backwards down the steepest, slipperiest sections of trail.
Annie Hobbles Down photo AnnieHobblesDown_zpsde9b0acd.jpg
Luckily when we reached the Yellow Rocks the hiking got considerably less difficult and Annie was able to walk upright.
On the Modoc Road photo AnnieonModocRoad_zps01ee7b8d.jpg
We continued on down the mountain at a slow pace and made it back to the car just before sunset.  
Rabbit Ear and Tree photo RabbitEarandtree_zpsb21128e1.jpg

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Well it sure was fun Eric. I'm sorry your leaving it would have been cool to do more epic hikes like this one. Enjoy ANJO and the Appalachians.