Three Rivers Petroglyph Site and a Bit of Hiking in Lincoln National Forest
The next weekend excursion took us to Three Rivers Petroglyph site, an area that contains an amazing 20,000 petroglyphs left by the Jornada Mogollon peoples. The mile long ridge on which the images are located is composed entirely of volcanic rock, formed after a series of eruptions that ended only 1,500 to 2,000 years ago; these volcanic events channeled lava as far south as 44 miles from the eruption site and covered 125 square miles of the Tularosa Basin. The sheer abundance of glyphs concentrated in such a small area was incredible and forced me to examine each outcropping slowly; it seemed as though the images were on all sides of the volcanic rock unlike some other cultures who would restrict their markings to the east and south sides. In addition to the unique concentration of so many images, many of the designs and shapes were unfamiliar to me – and beautifully intricate. The geometric ones in particular were incredible.
After leaving the petroglyph site we decided to drive into the Sierra Blancas – but along a different road than we had a few weeks ago. We took the scenic Route 82 towards the small mountain of Croudcroft, driving through a steep, forested canyon. Surprisingly, near the summit we came across a wooden trestle bridge, 323 feet long and 60 feet high. Stopping to look we learned this was the highest of the original trestle bridges constructed in the canyon in 1899 in order to facilitate the extraction of timber from the forest. The 26 mile line of track, ascending over 4,000 feet, was called the “cloud-climbing route” and was notoriously dangerous, resulting in multiple accidents; passengers on trains that transported tourists to the mountain towns above widely reported being terrified by the ride.
We reached Cloudcroft and found quite a lot of snow cover that would prevent us from hiking any of the trails up there so after walking around a bit we headed back down and followed signs to the Bridal Veil Falls Trailhead. This one turned out to be a bit of a bust as after 2 miles the trail became a mud pond so we backtracked and tried the short Grand View Trail located within a hundred yards of the trailhead. After a short but steady climb we reached an overlook over the Tularosa Basin below, though the developing sand storms made the view very um, white. Still, we enjoyed walking through the pinyon here so no complaints.