Fellow Oppo Akio is in Las Cruces for work, and has his Disco out here with him. We met up this morning to go play in the dirt. There was rightly probably a little skepticism about my plan to go drive up to the top of Caballo Peak, as the name of the mountain, the road and any information at all about this spot is pretty hard to find. I’ve posted about coming up here for work, as I’ve got a repeater for the flood warning system here. It’s a neat area, but primarily only visited as a communications site with just about every company, media station in the area and local, state and federal agency has equipment in the antenna farm up top. Otherwise, it is a place few folks visit recreationally. This is probably more a factor of no facilities or designated trails, and it is a long ways from anything else. Road names and signs are also a bit variable in the area if you don’t know your way around.
Nonetheless, I went out this morning to meet a stranger from the internet and his coworker that joined. Akio is a super nice guy, and his Disco doesn’t disappoint either. I’ve always liked Discos. After the requisite checking out of each others cars, we were off to an area about an hour Northeast of Las Cruces.
First stop as we drove up along the Rincon Arroyo towards Spaceport America was Point of Rocks. This was a well documented camping spot along the El Camino Real, and was sometimes the first night’s camp along the Jordana del Muerto after leaving the Rio Grande Valley when going North. This is a spot mentioned in many 16th, 17th and 18th century journals of travel along the El Camino Real de Tierra Adentro in this area, and lots of archaeological evidence to support.
Up next was an obligatory stop at the entrance of Spaceport America. At one time you could pretty much drive up to main building, but security has become more of thing there since activities and flight testing are actually happening now.
Cows were mooed at.
The requisite group picture at the base of the mountain. This cattle tank is a good place to air down tires a bit (not need for traction, but made the ride a lot better) and engage low range. Beyond this point the road ceases to be a maintained county road and climbs up the mountain.
The steep, rocky road makes for a good little trail of picking lines over rocks in places and offers some killer views of the surrounding area. A few turnouts offer convenient places to take pictures, and t
o view a Land Rover in its natural state occasionally let a slightly warm Disco cool off in a hot and high environment. The Disco was actually fine, it just got a little warm climbing the lower part of the mountain.
The top of Caballo Peak is around 7600ft and offers fantastic views in all directions. It is also a glorious 10 or 15 degrees cooler than the desert floor. Forest fires in the region gave hazy skies with a lot less visibility than usual.
Somewhat unusually, we weren’t alone up there today. There was someone working on a site in their personal FJ Cruiser, and curiously, a Ford Edge up there.
They proved it isn’t impossible to get an AWD crossover up there if you picked your lines very, very carefully in places,but it would certainly be a full send to do so. In capable 4X4 rigs, it is a 5-10mph drive picking lines over rocks in low range. The lack of govt. plates on this suggests this was probably a HAM operator. Various radio clubs in the region have repeaters up here. The fact that they got an Edge up here doesn’t mean it was a good idea. Getting up, or especially down, the mountain without low range would be some work.
The Edge set off down the mountain about 20 minutes before we did and was the only car down in front of us. About 1/3 of the way down we found a gash mark on a rock and a trail of fluid going down the mountain that wasn’t there on the way up. It turns our the Edge driver really did do a full send. We think they drained their rear differential via the rock method. Surprisingly, we didn’t see them stopped on the side of the road on the way back, but it is possible they drove back to T or C and not Las Cruces. I suppose it might also be possible to drive some distance on a dry differential before it finally locks up or otherwise comes apart in spectacular fashion.
In the end, it was an awesome day with a fellow Oppo. This is the first time I’ve met another Oppo in person. I lament that my potato pictures really don’t capture how neat this area is. I imagine Akio will be posting his account, and he took pictures with a real camera. He’s in town for awhile, so we’ve got another Oppo outing planned for next weekend.