Odyssey Day 29 - 35

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Now for most of my trails you can download my GPS track (bread crumb trail) as well as the map of my track. For more info Click Track Info

 We start off to finish the trail up Martinez Canyon; I will start off where we ended our last trip when I snapped of a brake line on the bouldery wash. Just by going 50 ft. further you can see the “stamping mill”. (I doubt it was a stamping mill, to me a stamping mill produces a finished goods i.e. tin roofs. This could be a crusher that crushes the raw ore. There is a hopper that had rails going to it for ore buckets and a steam engine to power something that is now gone.) At the fork stay in the wash the trail goes under the rails that lead to the hopper. The right fork goes around the plant, but is washed out ahead.

Stamping plant.


The trail leaves the wash for a short time before re-entering it and it is rough. You are definitely in a canyon with tall rock walls around you! When you do leave the wash you head up and up the switch backs, as you look around you see abandoned mines all over.  You wonder how people scurried around on these steep and loose mountains. It had to be treacherous work, the mountains are a pile of sedimentary stones with fine sand and sharp broken volcanic rock thrown in. These earthen slopes piled up at the angle of repose ran right up to the vertical rock faces. If you knew where, held the promise of wealth and fortune! It had to be a thorny long way down if you slipped! You had to climb all over these mountains at the boundary of the vertical rock and earthen slope looking for telltales for gold and silver.


Yes you must come up these switchbacks

 As you climb up the road you come to a mine on your left this is the Columbia Mine. Now you should never go into mines!  However I can, this mine has no timbers to shore up the ceiling so the timbers can’t rot. With flash light in one hand and my video camera in the other I head in. The tracks for the ore carts are still here along with a lot of foot prints in the fine dust on the floor.  I walked in at least 200 ft in a straight line. I shine the light down the shaft another 100 ft (as far as the light could reach) and it was still straight as an arrow! 


Yes this is the road and no there is no bypass.

Columbia Mine

Back in the jeep you immediately come to a switchbacks that requires a 3 point turn (second one on the way up) in a jeep (and it’s a long way down just behind you).  Go up only 75 ft more in altitude and pass over to the other side altitude 3200 ft. Down 75 ft and a mine shaft is visible on your left just about right if the Columbia mine (I bet it goes straight through).  But the road takes a sharp left and climbs some more to a new higher pass of 3483 ft.  The view is worth the trip and then some. West southwest you can see Casa Grande with Rt. 8 glistening in the distance a little north of that are the rubble foothills.  Every where else are tall jagged vertical rock that form the cores of all these mountains!  The vertical rock faces can be from 2 to 300 ft tall straight up, jagged, fractured ready to fall. Wonderful to see nature so raw and indifferent to humans.

Columbia Mine exit?

End of road?

Going down!

Back in the jeep we head down we get about 600 ft and the road seems to disappear over a precipice. I get out and look, the road used to go to the left but has been washed out, the road now goes over a berm and straight! IT IS STEEP! and loose! and 100 ft long and at the bottom a sharp right turn, or over the edge you go! Did I say it is steep and loose and you have to turn right at the bottom or over you go! Did I say that?  I put it in low and gently riding the brake … eased over the berm! The tires where sliding and gripping and sliding, every time the tires slid I picked up speed and slowed down when the tires gripped.  Other than a few skipped heart beats it was a piece of cake.

 The switchbacks you can see from the mining camp are not the ones you come down.  The ones you see go to a mine.  The ones you come down are off to the left around the side of the mountain. The only sharp turn on the way down is at the bottom of the sliding ride at the top!

In short order you are at the mining camp and headed out. Since we are headed back to Las Cruces we will go out through Box Canyon yet again and on to Florence (Again!). We will take Rt 89 to Tucson where we will pick up I 10. In Florence we stop at Burger King for a burger and I remove the front drive shaft (I still get a vibration from it)  I notice that even though I had the U-joint replaced in Tennessee it is stiff. We get to I 10 with time to spare

Casa Grande

We stopped at a NM tourist information @ exit 20, Lordsburg looking for a New Mexico travel guide with town info and history (Texas has a great travel guide).  I was inside talking with the attendant when he asked me “Is your jeep supposed to be smoking?” I looked out and it was smoking, so I ran out and cracked the hood open… I saw FLAMES!!  I got my extinguisher out cracked the hood and sprayed!!!!  The fire was out, open the hood and survey the damage.  While I was looking at it I could see glowing inside my PCV hose.  So I ripped it out. As I watched, the air intake crossover tube melted and drooled over the injectors! Even though the fire was out plastic continued to melt.


I stood around and let things cool while I collected my thoughts.  It was now 5:00 and the information booth attendant was getting into his car! I ran over and asked him if I could get a phone book from him as I would need a tow truck and hotel and repair shop and… He went in and got me one for the area (It was rather meager as there is not much in the area). Across the highway I could see a motel, Days Inn, at least we could sleep locally. Sue gave them a call we got the “car broken down rate” of $31.00 wow sounds great. I gave the jeep a closer look, the fuel injection wire harness was burned and directly above that was the air tube (goes from the air filter to the intake manifold) in between is the throttle cable, now encased in the frozen drooling air tube! I can see the injector wires, bare tempered and brittle from the heat of the fire.  I climb up and start to poke around to try to see what started it. I see Partly burned string, fuzz, soft looking stuff  on the intake and exhaust manifold… . I think (yes I sometimes do that)  a prolonged highway drive then stopping (under the hood temps get really high after you shut off the engine) ignited the stuff which caught the plastic whitch…  I thought I might as well try to start it, the worst that can happen is I’ll blow a fuse or an injector seal will leak (I still have some fire extinguisher left, actually quite a bit left for I only used it for less than 1 second and it still felt rather full.)  Well it started right up and purred like a kitten! I closed the hood… hey the paint peeled! It was fine when I opened the hood!


All fixed!

We drove over to the hotel.  “Ops I gave you the wrong rate” says the clerk.  “It’s actually $51”.  Fine give me a room!  Well, they did have a hot tub!   Back outside I looked at the mess under the jeep hood again and started the old gray matter using sugar. All I need is to keep the wires from shorting, Silicone will do that and I got some! And I need to suck filtered air into the engine which means replacing the crossover tube!  I can fix this well enough to get us to Las Cruces 115 miles away!  I get out my tools, I start by cutting the drooly part off of the crossover tube. The throttle cable is a different story. The stop for it is plastic and has melted away now the stop is the drooly part of the crossover tube, which is in the way of any replacement tube I can make up.  So I carefully cut away the drool leaving just enough behind to act as a stop for the cable. Now over to the truck stop to find a suitable tube (and food). Did I mention there is a small truck stop across from the hotel, actually on our way to Phoenix we had stopped here for gas. What I end up with is two cans of Pringles potato chips and some hose clamps and a new fire extinguisher!  I cut the ends of the Pringles off, tape the resulting two tubes together and hose clamp them onto the crossover tube stubs. Carefully I put some silicone on the bare wires, go have a soak in the hot tub! Bed at midnight.


Day 30 Saturday

   Made calls; to the New Mexico association of 4 wheelers. He gave me a place that is a jeep speciality shop “Mule Barn” in Las Cruces NM. And some junkyards.  I called the junkyards first, one guy even laughed at me “You want parts for a 2000 TJ!”. Well I found none. I found a contact in El Paso. He couldn’t find any parts for me either. The dealers had no parts, in fact because of the three day President’s Day weekend, it would be Wednesday before I could get parts out of a dealer. So I ended up at the Mule Barn around 10:30 AM.  Jeff looked at what I had and could not help me but he knew somebody that could, Fred Huff.  Fred bought wrecked TJs and fixed them up, in fact he should be coming by any moment to pick up a part he had dropped off.  (So this guy is the reason I can’t find any TJs at the junkyard!). People kept coming over and being amazed at my tale of woe and that my jeep with Pringles can rans. One gentleman that came over, Lance, said, “nice jeep,” and wanted to know if we came here for the Chili Challenge. A Jeeping event happening next weekend.  That sounds great, but right now we are waiting for Fred. He said he should be here in a moment (does everybody in this town know Fred?). Lance took us into the Mule Barn and had them print out an application for the Chili Challenge. Lance said “hope to see you there, as I will be a trail leader for three days.” At 12:15 Fred showed up. He came over looked at what I had and proclaimed “I got everything you need to fix her up but I need the stuff for my project car”… I said “I was hoping I could find someone with the parts as junkyards don’t have them, and I was hoping to beg, barrow, steal or buy the parts”. Huff said “if want to come with me to the dealer and order new parts for me I’ll give you what you need”.  Yes!! Off we went to Fred’s house to make sure he had the right parts.

    • air tube
    • PCV tube
    • Wire harness.
    • Trough (holds the wire harness)
    • cover for the trough
    • throttle cable
    • Fule injector connecter

   Yup he got all the parts, off to the dealer. The dealer people where amazed, astounded, astonished got out their cameras took pictures!

    • wire harness $320
    • air tube $85.
    • PVC tube $7.
    • trough $18.
    • trough cover $16
    • throttle cable $47
    • Fule injector connecter $25

   $320 for the wire harness… “only 8 wires are burned but one injector connector is burned” I was thinking out loud.

   “We may have just the connector” piped in the parts guy. 2 minutes later “Yup got it $25“. “OK I’ll take it” I said.

   OK now for same shade and to work, Fred offers his house.  “I will take you up on that” said I. So off to a motel to leave off Sue and over to Fred’s house.

     I got started at 3:00 it was very awkward working on the jeep, I had to hang over the middle of the motor. During one of my breaks I went into Fred’s garage where he was working, putting body armor on the rear quarter of his jeep. I looked at what he was making and said like a smart aleckly, “You do know they make that part after market!” Fred said “Ya ... but nobody makes it the way I want it”. “That’s my problem”, I said , “When I buy something I have to modify it.” (a soul mate!).  I was finished by 6:00!!  Just like new!


Day 31 Sunday Broad Canyon

At the appointed time we met up with Lance (CJ), Rich (Land Rover), and Paul (TJ with his wife and 16 month baby and Echo a dog that kept barking at sticks on the ground). We headed down to the start of Broad Canyon.  Where you turn of off Rt. 185 we met Jeff (from the Mule Barn with a Cummings diesel powered buggy named Li’l Smokey) and John (also with a Buggy).

 Shortly after leaving the pavement we stopped and aired down.  Down a dirt road where we turned left into a wash ½ mile down we run into an area with waterfalls, the jeeps separate and each guy goes to a different spot and attempts to climb the waterfall. I quickly see that each person has chosen the waterfall that is appropriate and challenging for them and their jeep.  Lance says “A warm up spot before we head to the trail”.  All done warming up and off to the trail. (These guys are GOOD they bear close watching I can learn from them!) To make a long trail short with their spotting and direction I was able to do stuff that surprised even me!

  This canyon is different than the last one we did, Box Canyon in AZ, this canyon has “slick rock” (sandstone) which means LOTS of traction! 

 We were back on pavement by 1:30, left to Truth or Consequences (Yes that is the name of the town it was renamed in 1950 after the radio show).   We stopped in the town of Hatch. Big pepper growing area.  Found a store that sold dried hot pepper ropes. A 2 ft section sold for $10.  The town of T or C is not as touristy as we had thought it would be. It even has hot springs with many working bath houses!

 Since rain was expected for tonight and tomorrow, hotel for me.

 Stayed at Desert View Motel in Truth or Consequences, NM (T or C), recently renovated, if of older design.  But the price and view!  With Data Port phones!  No local access numbers but Data Port phones none the less!

 No rain tonight.


Hatch is the world Chili capital. With 300,000 acres of Chili’s

GPS WayPoints for Broad Canyon

Map of Broad Canyon area

Map of Just Canyon







N32 32.534

W106 59.761


Straight.  will return to this waypoint on the way out

N32 32.316

W107 00.486


right to Broad Canyon left to a play area

N32 31.641

W107 00.884


right to leave wash

N32 30.934

W107 02.640


turn right

N32 31.760

W107 03.121



N32 32.316

W107 00.486


End Rt 185

N32 32.534

W106 59.761

View to the southeast from our Motel, Desert View Motel.  The Caballo Mts we explore them on day 40 - 41 of the Odyssey

Download GPS Track of Broad Canyon

Day 32


At 12:30 AM went to the bathroom and was standing in ½ inch of water!!  The toilet float had malfunctioned and was filling the bathroom with water. Called the motel office, got another room and so did the people in the next room, got to sleep ~ 2:00 AM.

Spend the day working on web site.

 Ate lunch at the “Stoplight Cafe” in T or C.  They had a diverse menu from frog legs to biscuits and gravy and it was good food. Work on my tale of woe. With breaks to replace the compressor air hose, mount my new fire extinguisher.  At sunset I could see storm clouds forming to our south and west and it was WINDY! We also had a 2 hour break for grocery shopping and making dinner. Back to work on my tale of woe until 12:30 AM.


Day 33 Tuesday

 Got up at 7: AM back to work! The mountains to our west have snow on them this morning.  Checkout time is 11:00 then back to Kinko’s to upload the next installment. From T or C (Truth or Consequences)

 It’s a 1 hour 20 minute drive from T or C to Las Cruces.  We also stopped off in Hatch to buy a ristra to send to my niece. A ristra is a hanging rope of peppers.   And Hatch is the Chili capital of the world 300,000 acres of Chilies! The man selling them said I needed to mist them real good because rite now they are so dry that with the slightest touch the peppers brake off, so it would never survive being shipped home.

 After Kinko’s we find a Hotel in Las Cruces to be near the “Chili Challenge” Meeting area (State fair grounds exit 132 on I 10) We found BayMont an excellent value at $44.00 for two.  The BayMont is at exit 140 on I 10.

 Now off to the fair grounds to register for the “Chili Challenge” found our way there and $65.00 poorer where registered ($5.00 for trail defense fund (attorneys to try to keep the trails open)).  That’s it, it took all day, just for that stuff.


Day 34 Wednesday       Dona Ana trail

The hills start off short.

But they get much taller!

Down into the throat of mother earth

How steep is this, even though I am much lower, I can see the roof of the top jeep as he starts down!!

One of the not so steep hills.

Las Cruces

Day 1 of the Chili Challenge

The start of the Chili Challenge is today and we are signed up for the “Dona Ana” trail. 

The fair grounds are about 10 miles west of our Hotel. Our departure time is 8:30 AM so we got there at 8:00.

 Wow we left on time!  We have only 6 People in our group, which is nice.  When you go to an organized event a lot of the other participants are there to take pictures of their jeeps. As a result it does not take 3 times longer to run 18 than it does 6 people, it will take you 6 times longer!  After we left the fair grounds and took back roads to the trail head, about 40 minutes (we could have cut the time in half by going by highway but some people have modified their jeeps to such an extent that they are incapable of highway travel.)  We go to the town of Dona Ana just north of Las Cruces where we cross under I-25 on a graded road and turn left. This whole area is littered with trails, they go up, down and around the steep foothills of the Dona Ana Mts. As usual this is desert area so not much vegetation is around. The foothills are steep, and start off only about 50 ft high. With each new hill they get higher and taller and the trails get steeper and steeper when you go up all you see out the windshield is sky. When you come down (I HATE going DOWN) all you see is the wash bottom in front of you, and everything that is not bolted down in the back, ends up in the front seat with you! While this type of trail does not look like it, it could be dangerous, not knowing how to climb or more correctly when to stop, can have tragic results. See Driving tips - Hill Climb as well as Airing down.

 These foothills seem to be made of the same type of terrafirma as a lot of the foothills in the southwest, that is, a mixture of sand and rock.  These foothills seem to have a harder base than many of the foothills I have seen.

 As you get higher up into the foothills you start to see rock formations sticking out the top of the hills. Looks like the rock formations are uncovered by having the surrounding soil eroded away.

On one of the trails, as you wait for your turn to go over the edge and into the abyss, the jeep in front of you goes between two rock outcroppings and head down.  It’s so sharp a drop off that all you can see is the bottom of the jeep as he goes over the edge and is gone!  You get the impression that you are waiting your turn to drive down into the throat of mother earth!  The two rocks look like giant teeth and the jeep in front of you barely fit.  As you move up for your turn all you see are the teeth and the sky. You thread your way between the teeth the front of the jeep drops and finally out in front of you over the hood you see the up side of a hill and beyond that more hills and then the Dona Ana Mts. in the distance.  You can’t however see the bottom of where you are going. Since I did not hear any screams or cries for help I assume the jeep in front of me survived the trip down.  We are up next (since I am righting about it I guess you can assume I too made it).  Our trail continues to go up – down and around the foothills. Much of the rock looks to be like concrete (sedimentary).

Eventually we come to “eye of the needle”. Back when jeeps where smaller the trail would go through the eye, in fact there used to be a professional jeep race that went through the eye.

When we ran out of hills called it quits and headed back to pavement (Actually there were plenty of hills left, we where running out of daylight).

See Trails Area area for trail map and GPS data for Dona Ana Trail.

Eye of the needle

Day 35 Thursday      San Diego trail

San Diego Mt.

Dusty trail

Sedimentary rock from different places all point to San Diego Mt

Day 35 Thursday        San Diego trail

Day 2 of the Chili Challenge.

We get to the fair grounds at 7:55 for a 8:30 departure. We are scheduled to run San Diego Mt. a hard trail.  Only 5 jeeps in our line. (Apparently most people sign up for the extreme trails, as many of the lines for them are very long.)   We head off North West of Las Cruces by back roads again.  This trail takes us to an area where they were mining Fluoride, we will be visiting several mines, then we will visit some petroglyphs then on to the top of San Diego Mt. For what is described as a "panoramic view not to be missed!"

We cross under I 25 and go north on a dirt road about six miles, It is extremely dusty (I am glad I put in an air filter for the passengers compartment, a future article will tell you how to do that) turn left just after the double antenna.  Just before you cross under I 25 there is a gate, it’s probably closed. If so make sure you close behind you, if it’s open when you get there? Leave it open. Shortly we enter Articulation Ally! So named for the way it twists your suspension. This is where we finally aired down (I prefer to air down as soon as I leave the pavement, as most dirt roads are very washboardy.  See my article on airing down).  Our first stop is an abandoned mining community named Tonuco at the base of San Diego Mt. the community was active in the 1920's.  San Diego Mt. is volcanic in origin, as we got closer to the mountain we see areas where brown sandstone slabs are tilted at an angle and all the slabs point towards the top of San Diego Mt. Is it possible that when the mountain was forced up it forced the sandstone to tilt up? Not that much is left of Tonuco, some cans some wood, a place where the ore was loaded into wagons.  Littered about were chunks of fluoride, a crystal that looks like a cross between mica and quartz with a purple hue to it.

For the rest of the story, directions, GPS. And the legend of Doc Voss’s Gold as well as views from the top of San Diego Mt.  See the Chili Challenge page in the Trails Area.


What remains of Tonuco

After having a great time running the trail we return to Las Cruces where a quick shower and change we head down to La Mesilla an old Spanish town that is just a couple of miles south of Las Cruces.  The town square is quite authentic with large shade trees and benches to sit on and a great old gazebo.  The buildings around the square have covered walkways.  Some of the buildings are real adobe, adobe is mud and straw which means that periodically the walls have to be repaired with new adobe as rain tends to wash the walls away. There are many cantinas and restaurants around the old town Center, there are also a lot of antique stores and shops, unfortunately by the time we got to town only the cantinas were left open.  This is a place I'll have to return to!  We headed back to Las Cruces for quick night's sleep for tomorrow our departure time is 8:30 AM to for "Upper Broad Canyon" a moderate trail.

[Welcome page]

The Odyssey

[Video, Jeeping 101]

[GPS Track info.]


[Odyssey] [Day 8-14] [Day 15 -21] [Day 22 - 28] [Day 29 - 35] [Day 36 - 42] [Day 43 - 49]

[City Match Name] [Name the Folige]


[the shaft] [airing down] [Salsa] [Air Compressor] [Cooking Meatloaf] [Articles in Low-Range]

[City Answers] [Foliage Answers]


[Choke Cherry] [Holy Cross] [Death Valley] [Chili Challenge] [Caballo Mts] [Gila NF Trip] [Titus Canyon]

[Woodpecker Mine]  [Picket Post]  [Box Canyon]

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