In The Desert
Content including photographs are Copyright © 2013 - Present - Don & Linda Gilmore
Dogs Head Peak
Lordsburg, New Mexico
Area shown is Lordsburg, New Mexico down to Dogs Head Peak.
We don't think of the Continental Divide being in the desert in southern New Mexico, but it does run all the way across the continent. We think of it being in the Rocky Mountains, or is that just me? Anyway it's here just below Lordsburg. This sign is in a place that's very hard to get to and it's my understanding that not many people hike on the trail here.
Here's Dogs Head Peak, elevation 4,833 ft. This is cattle country and you'll probably run into quite a few head out here. The peak itself is between sections of private land and hard to get to without permission from one of the landowners. You'll need it to get through the locked gates, there is a lot of desert to explore out here. Ask around in town, that's how we got combinations for the locks.
So why do you come to a place like this in the middle of nowhere? First time we came here was on a treasure hunt. A bank had been robbed in Lordsburg and the robbers came out here and hid the cash. It was never found and the robbers were killed. There are a lot of caves out here to hide something. The second time we came out was because of what we saw on the first trip.
The first trip was with a friend that we treasure hunted with for years. The second trip was with an amateur herpetologist. We were looking for a Western Diamondback Rattlesnake over 7 ft. long. On the first trip I personally saw 3 of them, one so close that if he had bad breath, I'd have known it. Not a good experience. But I lived, and went back to find them.
To look at this photo you'd think this was a picnic and an easy stroll in the park. Well in places it was, but where we wanted to be it was not. There are places where it is pretty flat and there are washes that haven't been crossed or driven down in ages. But lots of cattle trails.
As you get closer to the mountains and hills the ground gets rocky, as shown here. Making just walking a pain in places. Now remember we're looking for snakes, so far this looks easy.
Chollas, Barrel Cactus, Ocotillo and more were waiting for us. Here's an example. This is June so it's almost ready to bloom with big yellow buds on the top.
It had rained within a week of us getting here, that's when the Ocotillo bloom, after a rain. In fact that's also when they get their leaves. They are pretty then. This is the hill and section next to Dogs Head Peak where they are a lot of caves and holes in the cliff and under the rocks here. It's also where we saw the biggest rattlesnake years ago when treasure hunting.
Linda is looking for a promising way to climb up this rock infested hill to get a look around and to inspect some of the holes and caves we know are here.
As we hiked along the hillside we kept taking photos of this. These 3 photos will give you an idea of what we were up against. Doesn't look too bad here.
These two photos -- the first one is at the bottom of the hill and after a short hike up this side we got to this area which was really hard to get through. As we got closer to the top it got harder. And it was hard to keep an eye out for snakes in this rock infested place. This would not be too bad if you didn't know that the biggest snakes you, (or anyone) have ever seen live here. Makes you very cautious to say the least.
The sheriff's department in town goes out on Friday night to the local cemetery to shoot rattlesnakes so people that come out on the weekend to visit a loved one don't get bit. They said they have a real problem with rattlesnakes.
So what are we doing looking for them in caves and holes like this? We had to crawl into this one and I know you want to know why we'd do this. Well we told people about the size of these snake (length) and nobody believed us. Of course it's easy to exaggerate, or in a moment of excitement stretch the truth. Or maybe it just looks bigger because you were a little excited? I don't get that way, and the first one we saw was stretched out on the back of this very cave wall just behind where this green bush is. I'm 6'1" and it was at least 1 1/2 ft. taller than me. Couldn't find one here so we kept looking.
Here we're standing on the hill looking at Dogs Head Peak wondering how this butte got a name like that. If you look at it, the snout is on the right side, I never have any luck seeing things like that. The guy that was with us was over there looking also.
Here's another look at Dogs Head Peak near the top. There are thousands of hiding places al over the upper half of the peak. One of them has an Indian grinding rock right in front of the dwelling that was walled up with rocks and dirt mortar. But not what we were looking for.
Just a little farther down the hill and to the left of the photo above. This gives you some small idea of what we're fighting here, climbing around on these rocks and getting past them.
This area is full of mines on the west side of the mountains as you can see here. We hiked around some of these places looking and never saw a snake.
We're not sure what this was growing out of the rocks here. Looks like it was full of seeds of some kind. You sometimes find something unusual like this. Did we find the snakes. NO WE DID NOT. All that way and we never saw a snake during the day out here. We did find some at night but not here. People knew about them, but no proof. Shame.
A really funny thing, when we found the rancher that gave us permission to enter through his property to get to the BLM ground his mother's house had a sign on the back door, BEWARE OF RATTLESNAKES to keep people from getting bit as they came to her door. They lived under her house. So this area is apparently full of rattlesnakes, we just weren't there at the right time.