This morning I arose fairly easily at 4:50am to go run. Sounds crazy even to myself who enjoys this kind of stuff. Having a couple crazy friends, Eugene and Dan, for company helps motivation. I always have to remind myself how good I feel seeing the sunrise over the Organ Mountains, the brisk cool air before the heat of the desert has a chance to torch the land and creatures and a personal sense of accomplishment well before most folks are heading to work or even waking up.
The three of us put feet to the trail a little before 6 am. We ran the steady, entrance climb up to the beautiful, grassy meadow canyon of Achenbach. Once passing through the initial climb and smaller canyons, one enters this meadow that also contains interesting, volcanic tuft, slabby rock outcroppings. We then split off on a narrow, loose, rocky side trail that followed a ridge up to an unnamed peak. The climb was mostly a power hike with a few spurts of running. Eugene mentioned this climb was his Grand Canyon training run. From the parking lot to the peak is a climb of about 2000 feet. We caught the magic hour as the sun lit up Achenbach and smaller canyons as it floated up from the White Sands of the east. After a break at the summit and dreaming of running the neighboring ridges and meadows we descended. The run down was fast but the loose footing made for a precarious descent. Each turn had a cactus, rock or sharp, or dagger-like yucca. A lot of the run down was more of a skree ski on the loose rocks. I couldn’t help but laugh out loud at the fun and absurdity of the run.
On this visit to Las Cruces, I’ve enjoyed running back in the desert with friends. This is where my love of trail running began and will always have a place in my heart. For anyone visiting Las Cruces I recommend checking out the Achenbach Canyon trail as well as the Sierra Vista Trail (sierravistatrailrun.wordpress.com), the convenient Tortugas/A mountain, Baylor Canyon and Pine Tree trails and the gravel roads and mountain bike trails of the Robledo mountains. An early start is essential in the warmer months and one is rewarded with spectacular sunrises.