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Franklin Mountains, El Paso, TX: Security?

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Franklin Mountains, El Paso, TX: Security?

Postby Sarah Simon » Tue Nov 10, 2009 2:12 am

Hopefully I'll hear from some El Paso locals or others familiar with the area...

In a few weeks, the opportunity will present itself for me to have most of one day free to dayhike in the El Paso area. Not surprisingly, as I'm posting this on SP, the Franklin Mountains are of particular interest.

Now, I've previously visited both El Paso and Juarez and I've got to confess, compared to Colorado Springs (where a bar fight or stolen horse can still make it into a story in the online version of the Gazette), there were some elements of the El Paso / Juarez community that left me feeling a bit less than safe.

What is the Franklin Mountains area like? Are yuppies hiking around with kids and dogs? Or are there going to be coyotes and drug runners slinking through the cactus? I do a lot of solo travel and a lot of solo hiking...I just don't want to get myself into a bad situation. I've hiked near-town trails in all sorts of cities alone (Salt Lake, Phoenix, San Diego...) and pulled up in my little rental car a little apprehensive of what I might find, only to find the trailhead packed with yuppies, dogs, laughing children, etc.

I am traveling by airplane, so the 9mm semi will be sitting quiet and lonely at home (unless the husband treats it to a day out for target practice). Would I be out of my mind to attempt, say, N. Franklin solo? Or am I just a Colorado worry wort?

Thanks for your honest input. Please remember I'm not trying to disparage the city of El Paso, I'm just trying to be cautious and sensible as a solo female traveler & hiker.

Regards,

Sarah[/i]
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Postby Bubba Suess » Tue Nov 10, 2009 3:55 am

If you have a car, you may find these a little more interesting:

www.summitpost.org/area/range/288598/or ... tains.html

They are not far from El Paso at all, and they are pretty cool. I have hiked in the Franklins and they are OK, but not much more than that, in my opinion. I am not knowledgeable about safety issues though. I will say that they are a Texas State Park, so I would figure there is a certain amount of safety that goes along with that.

Maybe the author of this page would know:

/www.summitpost.org/area/range/472740/franklin-mountains.html
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Postby Sarah Simon » Tue Nov 10, 2009 5:18 pm

truchas wrote:SP member grunt used to live there and knows alot about it. You might PM her and ask her.


Thanks, Truchas, I sent a PM to grunt.

-Sarah
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Postby Sarah Simon » Tue Nov 10, 2009 5:21 pm

Bubba Suess wrote:If you have a car, you may find these a little more interesting:

www.summitpost.org/area/range/288598/or ... tains.html

They are not far from El Paso at all, and they are pretty cool. I have hiked in the Franklins and they are OK, but not much more than that, in my opinion. I am not knowledgeable about safety issues though. I will say that they are a Texas State Park, so I would figure there is a certain amount of safety that goes along with that.

Maybe the author of this page would know:

www.summitpost.org/area/range/472740/fr ... tains.html


Thanks for the input, Bubba. I"ve been to the Organ Mountains and would like to get back again some day. But I've just got this one "free day" in El Paso, so I don't want to spend all day driving - I just want to get out and hike. I'll have been doing more driving than I'd like by this part of the trip, anyhow.

Yeah, the whole "TX State Park" thing lends a bit of a sense of security, but I'm sure some folks thought the whole "National Park" thing would lend some margin of safety to Organ Pipe National Monument, and, well...we know what goes on down there.

I'll PM the Franklin Mtns page author, too. Thanks for the insite.

Sarah
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Postby Outdooraholic » Sun Nov 15, 2009 2:18 pm

Sarah, I got your pm. I have done a ton of hiking in the franklin mountains and have never run into any coyotes or drug runners. I'm sure that you have heard a lot in the news about the violence and killings in Juarez.

Although literally only 15 minutes from the Franklin Mountains, the situation in Juarez is a world away. El Paso is a very, very safe city. The Border Patrol and El Paso PD do an incredible job. It really is amazing the difference in these to neighboring cities. They are like polar opposites when it comes to crime.

I've never met an unfriendly person on a trail in the Franklin Mountain. Its usually a boy scout troop, a family with there dog, or soldier's stationed at ft. bliss. Most of the local's aren't hikers. Just something I've noticed. A lot of the time you will have the trail to yourself.

Now is a great time for a hike in the Franklin Mountains, the weather is perfect this time of year. I hope I'm not to late replying to your message. Enjoy!
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Postby Sarah Simon » Sun Nov 15, 2009 6:42 pm

Hey Outdooraholic,

You are not at all too late in replying and I appreciate your reply.

You've pretty much confirmed my suspicion of the Franklin Mtns the same way I've confirmed my own suspicion of other urban trails: I approach them warrily, only to see a bunch of families with kids and dogs and yuppes and...and my worries evaporate.

Always better to check with some locals, though, than to get into a bad situation due to lack of homework.

I'm looking foreward to checking out your neck of the woods.

Cheers,

Sarah
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Postby maddie77777 » Wed Nov 18, 2009 8:21 pm

Hey Sarah, I just re-visited this thread after I booked a trip to Guadalupe next April. I had plans to visit the Organ Mountains on my loop trip back to El Paso. Should I reconsider?
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Postby Sarah Simon » Wed Nov 18, 2009 8:29 pm

maddie77777 wrote:Hey Sarah, I just re-visited this thread after I booked a trip to Guadalupe next April. I had plans to visit the Organ Mountains on my loop trip back to El Paso. Should I reconsider?


You might be confusing the Organ Mountains of NM (which I've visited and felt safe) with Organ Pipe National Monument in AZ.

I can say for certain that I would not backpack/overnight in the Organ Pipe National Monument. I suggest asking for input from Arizona folks, esp. Tucson locals. Personally, we will not go to the Organ Mountains un-armed and I sure as heck won't take my folks into the back-country there.

I guess the whole "murdered US Park Ranger" issue in 2002 (http://www.kriseggle.org/kris.htm) is bound to make one a bit weary.

As for the Organ Mountains in NM, though, I don't see a reason to be concerned.

Have fun in the Gualdalupes. I'll be returning there soon. :)
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Postby grunt » Wed Nov 18, 2009 8:46 pm

I think the Franklins are quite safe. I've hike N. Franklin many times (probably 8-10 times during my 5 years in El Paso) and almost every time was solo. I rarely saw anyone else at all.
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Postby surgent » Wed Nov 18, 2009 9:36 pm

sarah.simon wrote:
maddie77777 wrote:Hey Sarah, I just re-visited this thread after I booked a trip to Guadalupe next April. I had plans to visit the Organ Mountains on my loop trip back to El Paso. Should I reconsider?


You might be confusing the Organ Mountains of NM (which I've visited and felt safe) with Organ Pipe National Monument in AZ.

I can say for certain that I would not backpack/overnight in the Organ Pipe National Monument. I suggest asking for input from Arizona folks, esp. Tucson locals. Personally, we will not go to the Organ Mountains un-armed and I sure as heck won't take my folks into the back-country there.

I guess the whole "murdered US Park Ranger" issue in 2002 (http://www.kriseggle.org/kris.htm) is bound to make one a bit weary.

As for the Organ Mountains in NM, though, I don't see a reason to be concerned.

Have fun in the Gualdalupes. I'll be returning there soon. :)


Organ Pipe National Monument (AZ) is safe as long as you stick to the main routes. The campground is safe. You can see the lights of Sonoyta (Mex) about 4 miles in the distance at night. The loop drive through the Ajo Range (Tillotson Peak, Mount Ajo) is also very nice and safe. These areas are patrolled regularly. I had no qualms about hiking Mount Ajo and leaving my truck at the TH back in 06.

The problems are off in the nether reaches of the monument. The murder of the park ranger prompted closure of the other loop drive indefinitely. These areas are not patrolled, and I am sure there is the enormous liability the park could face were they to keep these sections open w/o increased patrols. A few people still hike Kino Peak in the west edge of the monument. No problems have been reported.

The smugglers are smart enough to know they'll have more luck where there are no people, west via the Cabeza Prieta Refuge or east via the Tohono O'odham Indian Reservation. My wife and I saw a band of crossers ambling up a highway (near Hickiwan) on the Tohono O'odham Nation, not rushing, not too concerned they'd be caught. We were wondering where the BP was...

Organ Pipe is beautiful country. You will be very safe - probably moreso statistically than driving your local freeway :). It's along a main highway with lots of patrols.
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Postby maddie77777 » Thu Nov 19, 2009 1:12 am

Perfect! I won't be worried now. Would it be more interesting to visit the Organ Mountains in NM or go see the VLA (Very Large Array)? The VLA is at least an hour out of our way, and I don't know how neat it would actually be to see.
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