Saturday, April 9, 2011

Cooke's Peak Hike with OMTRS members

I led an OMTRS "area familiarization" training hike to Cooke's Peak. the forecast on the day of the hike was an ominous 60 mph wind advisory, but we decided to go anyways. We met at Truckstop America at 6am, Chris Pennise and Kurt Anderson were the only two members foolish enough to join me today. We started hiking around 8am and were following the route description described in Greg Magee's Day Hikes and Nature Walks in the Las Cruces, El Paso Area. A few times in the approach gully it was hard to find the trail, but most of it was pretty distinct and easy going. By the time we reached the ridge top, winds were starting to pick up but it wasn't bad at all. The 2nd class section was short, and we spotted a peregrine Falcon nest nearby. They squawked at us a bit when we scrambled down to a nice observation spot to peer down into their nest. I didn't see any young or eggs, but one of the adults displayed brooding behavior, so they are probably on their way. It started getting stormy while we were on the summit, but nothing close to 60 mph winds, not even 20mph. The descent was pretty uneventful, except for one "short-cut" that I led them on to help me play with my new GPS features. We were back at the car by 3:00, and would have made it back to Las Cruces in good time if we hadn't detoured to some old Fort Ruins nearby. The wind was finally really picking up, and soon even the nearby Cooke's peak was obscured in dust. Good thing we had an early start, making for a perfect day of hiking.

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