Hiking Baylor Pass with Brenda and Kit

After finishing our first week of building in Las Cruces we set out to do our favorite hike, Baylor Pass. We had been discssing area hikes with our friends and fellow volunteers Brenda and Kit and so naturally invited them; they had hiked the west side of the Pass before but hadn’t crossed down to the eastern trailhead before. Because the eastern face of the Organ Mountains is fairly different in character from the lower-elevation cactus, yucca, and sage that predominates Baylor Canyon on the west side, we encouraged them to join us. Hiking the eastern side provides a pretty different profile of the jagged Organ Mountains (which can also be seen from the Pine Tree Trail) and features some beautiful exposed granite and larger juniper trees which makes the extra mileage and elevation gain worth it.

I just blogged about this hike in May so I won’t recount all the details but the route we take involves a 3.5+ mile ascent ~1,600 feet up Baylor Canyon to the Pass at 6,430 feet before a 2.5 mile, ~900 foot descent to Aguirre Springs. We then return along the same route. The five of us (which includes Abby) started out early in the morning, startling a few groups of grazing cattle and walking into the sun as we trekked up into the canyon. The air temperatures were chilly but the sun was strong, prompting some early shedding of layers and lots of water drinking as we climbed up to the Pass. Unlike last year when a dust storm whited-out the basin on the eastern side of the mountains, we were blessed with clear, blue skies and fantastic visibility of the alluvial fans directly below as well as the white sands stretching to Alamogordo.

Descending down the other side was a treat as the sun began moving over the peaks and changing the light across the gray spires of rock. After lunch at Aguirre Springs we started back up, joined by a woman and her college-age daughter whom we chatted with about volunteering with Habitat as a Care-a-Vanner in her upcoming retirement. They were returning to their trailhead at Aguirre Springs after we reached the top but politely agreed to take a photo of the 4 of us at the Pass; as usual Abby declined to participate in the photo-taking and waited for us in the shade. After we parted company we steadily descended back down Baylor Canyon, finishing the hike before mid-afternoon.