Sunday, December 18, 2011

Oliver Lee Memorial State Park

We stayed three nights here at this beautiful, peaceful park about 20 miles from White Sands.  Steve took the opportunity to hike eleven miles solo.  I took the girls on the Oliver Lee Ranch Tour…not particularly kid-friendly, but we were the only ones on the tour, and the kids did great.  Steve writes below about his long solo hike.
The creek that comes down the mountain gets smaller and smaller and disappears entirely at this spot 
These are called Indian wells, but they were really places where the Indians ground up  food.

This state parks lies on the desert floor just at the point where the hill rises up to a long mountain ridge that stretches for miles in either direction.   On Sunday morning,  I decided to hike to an old rancher's cabin 2.9 miles up the hill.   I took off in cool, cloudy weather at about 10AM after talking with a fascinating guy who is retired from the Coast Guard and has a cat he takes for walks on a leash!   The trail to the cabin heads straight up and is very rocky.   After about 2 miles it comes to a flat meadow where cattle used to graze.   The cabin is at the far end of the meadow by some shade trees and a creek.  When I got there, I felt great and decided to keep going the extra 1.6 miles to the top.  That part of the trail was pretty technical but not dangerous in any way.   One of the camp hosts advised against this part of the trail, but I think they were being overly cautious.

At the top of the mountain, the terrain changes so that there are pine trees and grasses.  I saw plenty of evidence of elk and even Mountain Lion tracks in the mud.   The trail continues for another, flat mile at the top.  I could see the campground and our RV way, way off in the distance from the very top.  After completing the full 5.5 miles to the end, I still felt good but realized that I would have to hoof it to make it back so that Linda and the kids could make the ranch tour that started at 3PM.   I had to run some which started blisters forming, but thankfully I was able to avoid full-blown blisters.  I hobbled back to the RV just in time for Linda to take off for the ranch tour with the girls.  This was the longest hike that I've ever done by myself, and although it felt good, I was whooped by the end!  Hiking alone gave me the opportunity to catch up on sermons from my home church in Texas.  I listened to five in a row, which is a lot of good teaching!  
Glad I took this photo since it served as my reference on the hike
You leave the state park just a short way into the hike and enter the national forest
The first flat section after about 2 miles
The nice shady spot by the creek
The old ranchers cabin...the rusted out bed frame is still inside
The trail runs along these cliffs. You can see it if you look closely.
The trail comes right up to the sheer cliffs.The first flat section is in the distance.
Made it to the top, 4.5 miles and 3000 vertical
I could actually see the campground from the top
The end
Mountain lion can tell it is a cat because you can't see claws.


Anonymous said...

I am really looking forward to your trip. Great pics! It really gives me an idea what to look forward to. Was it a fun place to go to?

Anonymous said...

Oops, sorry....."my trip"

The Zavocki's said...

Yes, we loved it there. If you are physically fit, then do the hike to the top behind the visitor center. Don't let the overly cautious rangers talk you out of it. It is 11 miles RT I think. Have fun!