February 27, 2009

Climbing Blacktail Hill

I suppose I should really title this: Hiking up Blacktail Hill as no ropes or other fancy equipment were required. But to a flatlander like me, it was a climb. Actually, with my fear of heights, it was at the limit of my comfort zone as the hike is steep with loose rocks and sheer drop offs. I really must remember to hike with gloves on these uphill jaunts so I can feel more comfortable using my hands. Grabbing onto a prickly pear, ocotillo or sotol (all have various kinds of thorns) is not that attractive with bare hands, even in a pinch.

We drove to the bottom of the hill, though it would have taken us just as long to walk to it as we live on Blacktail's foothill (bajada) and could have just bushwacked to get there. Dan did this hike from the west side once, but the approach from the east is "more gentle"; let's call it "not as steep". We have been here on horseback too, and I could almost hear Cody (our lazy horse) whining: but it's all uphill... Emma came along of course, and she has no problem finding her way through ocotillo and up rock outcroppings.

It took us an hour to reach the top, and I must admit that I did not make it the last 10 feet because it required scaling up some sheer rock, with drop offs on all sides, and I did not feel comfortable enough to get Emma up there too. So she and I sat at the base of the rock and admired the view of the valley and our beloved WD Ranch (in the ellipse). Dan recorded our feat on the paper in the jar at the top. The last visitors had been there in November.

I am really not that concerned about going uphill, my worries are the downhill and looking down steep slopes with nothing to break my fall. We found that Emma is a great scout who is best as finding the easiest way home. It was only 30 minutes back down, in controlled fashion. Not bad for 772 feet up, and 772 feet down.

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