Posted by: Barbara Evanhoe | January 8, 2012

One Week Down

Happily, we survived the first week of 2012.

It was a good one all around, and today we are relaxing and enjoying some well-earned down time after our show at the Ivory Tusk on Friday night.

We were gifted with a nice group of folks of all ages, who served as a grateful audience….plus, we made a couple of new friends. We were also invited back, so who could ask for more!

Sleeping in yesterday morning was a given, and after a cup of coffee and our usual breakfast of porridge ~ 29 Palms Inn style (oatmeal mixed with barley for a wonderful texture) ~ with the addition of pecans and blueberries, we climbed into the truck for a little exploring.

We had originally intended to drive out to the Elephant Butte Lake dam, as they were offering a walk across the dam in honor of New Mexico’s 100th birthday, which was Friday.

Access to the dam was closed following 9-11, and as it is 300 feet high, and quite an imposing structure, we figured it would provide a good view of the lake and surrounding mountains and buttes.

As it turned out, many, many others had the same idea, and after parking and starting the 3-mile walk to the dam from the parking lot, we decided to opt for something a bit less populated, and climbed back into the truck for the short drive to the Turtleback Mountain trailhead.

We’d attempted to locate the trailhead once before, with no luck… it turns out, we drove right past it, and then continued on this craggy, rutted dirt road for miles, never realizing we’d missed it, and simply gave up searching!

Today we were much luckier ~ or perhaps just more observant, and the trailhead and parking area were exactly where the directions said they would be – imagine that!

Turtleback Trailhead Marker

It was a gorgeous afternoon…sun shining, temperatures in the low 60’s, deer running along an arroyo, a lone bald eagle soaring overhead, and the desert plants lending their subtle beauty to the scene.

Small Patches of Snow Still Noticeable in the Shadows

Surprisingly, some of the plants appeared to be in flower…..

The hike up to the summit of Turtleback Mountain is quite strenuous, and long (at least 4 hours), and not something you do on a whim. And, as parts of the trail cross private property, you travel at your own risk.

You need to pack plenty of water and trail food, be in good physical condition, and be prepared to face wind and bad weather. Also, cell service is not a given, which could be problematic in an emergency…..people have died on this trail.

With those warnings in mind, Keith and I decided to simply take a short walk up the trail, just to see what we could see, and how it would feel to our old muscles and bones.

The path is littered with small rocks, and winds through a variety of desert plants whose names I am not yet familiar with, (other than prickly pear)… their sunwashed hues adding subtle contrast to the pale sand and stones.

This little ridge is just the beginning!

Although our hike was short, the view from the height we reached was glorious…..looking down on the Rio Grande River, farmers preparing fields for planting, the little town of Truth or Consequences, several distant mountain ranges that surround the valley….we could even see semi trucks traveling along Interstate 25.

We can only imagine what the view would be like at the Turtleback summit.

Our hope is that we can work up to making the full trip, but I can tell you right now that it won’t happen in the near future, and if it does, that 4 hour hike could turn into an 8 hour hike when we add the numerous rest stops that will no doubt be required!

We were glad that our plans took this unexpected turn from the dam to Turtleback, and as confirmation that we’d made the right choice, we were gifted with a lovely view of the Elephant Butte Dam in the distance on the ride back home…..adding a little “full circle” experience to our New Mexico day.



  1. Great photos! Can’t wait to see it in person.

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