A professional meeting in nearby Ruidoso provided the opportunity for myself and three companions, from the University of Georgia, to head out for a hike in this area. Arriving late on Saturday night meant we did not have the opportunity to get a hold of any topo or trail maps. We were able to take some notes and sketch some rough outlines of the area from a map kiosk outside the USFS office in Ruidoso. It was after the fact that we really were able to pin down where we had been.
NM was experiencing record highs at the time, and we were hiking in shorts, light tops and runners under sunny skies. We hiked up to a ridge and the Crest Trail via Little Bonita Creek, south of Nogal, then travelled north along the Crest, detouring up to a high knob we believe was Argentina Peak, and over to a high basalt looking formation to the south west of the Nogal structure. For the return, we circled past Argentina Springs and down a canyon of similar name. This canyon was probably two drainages south of the SE flanks of Nogal. Trailhead access was gained by the road to Bonita Lake.
Notable scenery included views of the Mal Pais (bad lands/country) valley lava flows to the west and views of White Sands to the far SW. Also, the ecological changes between the ridge and lower trailheads were incredible. There were enclaves of ferns and moss at springs, clusters of aspen, stands of pine, isolated oaks and high arid grassy meadows. Nogal is a beautiful conical/pyramidal peak and it was always present as we travelled this ridge; with better information ahead of time we would have loved to have hiked Nogal.
We had flown into El Paso, TX and this area was an easy drive of three hours or so. After our meetings we returned to El Paso a day early to work in a trip to Hueco Tanks for bouldering and viewing of pictographs.
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