On our hike up to Baylor Pass last February we had made a plan to continue up to the peak to the north of the canyon sometime we returned next year. And when we did the Pass trail again a few weeks ago with Kit and Brenda, Tom spotted a foot trail heading in that direction. So, on our days off following our 4th week at Mesilla Valley Habitat, we decided to tackle it.
We started on the Baylor Pass Trail from the Aguirre Springs Trailhead, which gets you to the pass in a little more than 2 miles with 900 feet in elevation. From there we turned north following the increasingly-steep footpath that led up the western side of the peak. We had started the hike in calm, 50-degree weather but a quarter mile from the pass we found ourselves suddenly assaulted by wind, a condition that increased in severity as we began hiking up the exposed side of the peak above the canyon. Luckily the temperature hadn’t noticeably decreased as we’d gained altitude so it wasn’t too cold despite the 30+ mph winds and 50+ mph gusts. It did however make for the occasional misstep as we’d get blown backwards or sideways while balancing on the rocks.
The informal trail was steep and hard-going over the course of the 1,000 foot ascent which gave us plenty of excuses to stop and admire the view down Baylor Canyon – and to take pictures of Abby. Lots and lots of pictures of Abby. Once we reached the top the wind died down quite a bit as it was able to flow over the peak; we all enjoyed the respite, Tom and I breaking for an apple and Abby laying down next to the cairn at the top. Once we began our descent we were met with the ferocious winds again but luckily the force was against us and not pushing us down the mountain.
Though the high winds characterized our walk up Baylor Peak, it was a very enjoyable exploration and one we would definitely repeat on our next visit to Las Cruces. We’d certainly try for a day with less wind, but more importantly, we’d like to do it when the valleys to the south weren’t under cloud cover. Though we were able to get some pretty great views down Baylor Canyon and east over the White Sands basin, I’d love to be able to see the Organ Peaks to the south a bit more clearly.
Views on the Baylor Pass Trail from Aguirre Springs (you may recognize the familiar profile of the “Rabbit Ears” from previous blog posts):
Up Baylor Peak and then back down to the trailhead: