Double R Canyon

March 16-18, 2018

On every trip to Jackson Cabin, I have looked longingly at those cinnamon-swirl hills north of Muleshoe Ranch and sworn we'd return to explore them. Finally, the planets aligned, we had a free weekend and the weather was perfect.

There are very few pull-offs on Jackson Cabin Road, but we finally found a spot that was almost level and settled in for a peaceful but windy night.
Next day we dropped straight down from the campsite, aiming for the deepest, lushest section of Double R Canyon. These hills are made of a red conglomerate encrusted with a bewildering variety of colorful stones. With very little loose rock, it made for fun and easy cross-country hiking.
Tunnel-like side canyons reminded us of Anza Borrego.
The canyon bottom was a dense forest of Arizona sycamores and Fremont cottonwoods with a brilliant lime green canopy of spring growth
We skittered down a side canyon and were delighted to find a sparkling stream at the bottom.
The stream was lined with cattails and awash in watercress, with some tantalizingly deep pools.
We expected to encounter dense brush, but the canyon bottom was relatively clear. In no time, we emerged on a bench above the stream where remnants of a former ranching operation were hidden in a dense mesquite bosque.
Instead of returning via the road as planned, we continued cross-country, scrambling over waves of red conglomerate.
"Honey, I shrunk the camper!"
The next day we thought we'd head over to the west side of the Piñalenos, but along the way, we were bewitched by the southern flank of the Winchester Mountains. We began methodically exploring possible routes into the area, but as usual, most were either gated and locked, impassable or non-existent.
We settled for a spot on the pipeline road, surrounded by curious cows and whirring wind turbines.
All night, we could hear the "whump-whump-whump" of the giant turbine blades, but still, there was something majextic about the setting.
Overnight the wind picked up and the temperature plummeted, postponing our plans to explore the area on foot.
But spotting a herd of 16 antelopes sprinting across the plains more than made our day.
I had never seen antelope in this area, and I don't know if they were planted here, or if they migrated from another area, but seeing them always makes me absurdly happy.