Page 19

DESERT EXPOSURE

MAY 2017 • 19

HIGH PLACES • GABRIELE TEICH

From Guided Tour to Tour Guide Finding friends can be a bonus to trail lovers

T

he plan had been to see the Permian Trackways – once again. This time with a paleontologist as a guide who would show us so much more than we ever discovered on our own. The hiking group was meeting at 9 a.m. on a Saturday morning at the trailhead. Except – no one was there. The only other people at the trailhead was a couple in a van with a Massachusetts license plate. A smartphone check revealed the reason for the missing hiker group: The hike was scheduled for the following Saturday. “My bad” as the youngsters say. What to do? We started chatting with the couple in the van. They were eager to see the trackways but had no idea about the trail ahead. The signage told a lot about the Permian Age and the animals that roamed the Earth 280 million years ago but it didn’t say anything about the length or difficulty of the trail. (Note to self: Call the office in town to let them know about the lack thereof.) So we volunteered to guide them to the trackways and show them what we knew. It’s a 2½hour hike with some steep parts, but moderate in general. Chatting with our newfound friends, we hiked along the ridgeline to the highest point of the hike with only a few breathers. Shortly after that point, the trail veers off to the

left. It’s impossible to miss: A row of big rocks across the main trail and a sign post with an arrow. As steep as the trail went up before it feels even steeper downhill now. Soon you enter the canyon bottom. Here we started looking for the famous tracks. Hint: They are mostly on the dark crimson colored rocks. Over the next few hundred yards you can find them – sometimes clearer, sometimes only faint – as well as some fern and other plant imprints. Keep your eyes open. And please: Leave everything as you find it. Let others enjoy it, too. The canyon winds along and eventually gets wider. You will pass a sign marking the border of the Prehistoric Trackways National Monument. Right around there we had gotten to know – and like – our new hiking friends so well that I spontaneously invited them to a pizza dinner at our house later that day. We fired up the horno in our backyard and baked the pizzas with the last of the sun’s daylight. We chatted on until it was completely dark. A wonderful finish to a great day outdoors. And another wonderful case of strangers becoming friends. If you want to go: From Valley Drive in Las Cruces take Shalom Colony Trail, just over the Rio Grande bridge to Rocky Acres Trail and look for the sign to the

Jeff Teich, Rita Jaros, Wes Talley and Gabriele Teich at a high point on the Permian Trackways. (Courtesy Photo)

left. The parking lot and trailhead are a few hundred yards up the dirt road from Rocky Acres Trail. Of German origin, Gabriele Teich has called Las Cruces her home for the last 18 years — and loved every minute of it, hiking the mountains in the immediate surroundings and all over this beautiful state.

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Many signs of the living activity of the past can be found on the Prehistoric Trackways National Monument. (Photos by Gabriele Teich)

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Desert Exposure - May 2017  
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