05-Jan-2001 -- After months of pre-planning, my colleague Jim Cox and I
finally departed from his home in west El Paso in seach of big
game - our first confluence. We left at about 7:30am, and
after just a few wrong turns, we found the gravel road which
would take us to the point nearest our destination.
We crossed a cattle guard, inched our way through a herd of
young steers, then meandered our way west until we came to an
impassable (for cars) barbed-wire fence. Jim's GPS indicated that we were
three miles from the confluence. We then set out on foot.
An old road on the far side of the fence merged into a dry stream
bed which headed in the general direction of the confluence. We
decided to follow the wash as long as we could, before going
cross country through the sotols, lechugillas, and prickly pear
cacti. We were a mile away from our destination when we left
the stream bed.
We had a climb of about 400ft out of the canyon to the top of
a small hill overlooking the confluence. From there, it was just
a quarter mile to the confluence, which we quickly pinpointed
with the GPS.
This is scenic high grassland country, featuring desert plants
interspersed with prarie grasses. It is very different from
the creosote-bush dominated valley where El Paso sits. The average
elevation during the hike was 5100ft. We surprised two herds of mule
deer during our hike, and flushed three coveys of quail. The
only other mammal we saw was a cottontail rabbit which made us
jump as we frightened it out of its hiding place near the
abandoned adobe home in the picture.
We were back in El Paso digging into delicious cheeseburgers
by 3:00pm. This was the closest confluence to our homes; It turned
out to be quite an easy day hike.
Lee A. Sterling