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Planting Seeds
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Eugene Smith
(Eugeneius) - MLife

Locale: Nuevo Mexico
Planting Seeds on 05/15/2011 15:40:29 MDT Print View

I awoke atypically early for a Saturday morning, poured us some Cheerios for breakfast, loaded up the Cruiser with my son Joel's 'Howdah' carrier and some water, and headed for Achenbach Canyon with the intention of enjoying the company of my son on a hike. A dysfunctional ATM machine failed to produce the $5 cash mandatory for the ridiculous parking fee at Dripping Springs Recreation Area, so the steep and rocky ascent up Achenbach Canyon would become the morning's PLAN B. The highlight of my week has shifted as of late, from the solo requisite long trailrun in the cool hours of the morning, to now accompanying my son on local hikes one day of the week. By the time Joel is my age, his generation will be completely detached and unfamiliar with the natural world they inhabit, traded down for a 'whitewashed' childhood existence experienced through every synthetic medium possible. The ultimate goal of our little hikes is to establish a foundation and simply have fun outside, but I firmly believe that planting the seeds of wild places in Joel early on will benefit him in his life later down the road.

I can make a killer bowl of cereal.


Cheerios...of course.


The pestilent spring winds have somehow managed to extend their stay, and on this particular morning the winds were pouring down off of the Organs Mountains at force from the East, which is fairly abnormal. 102 consecutive day's of no precipitation, wild fires throughout the state, and blowing sand is getting old, but Joel didn't seem to mind on this particular morning.

DSC_0225 - Version 3

Pulling sherpa duty. Carrying a 27lb. boy, a 7lb. child carrier, 2L of water, a juice bottle, snacks, and a newly acquired NikonD7000 made for a healthy workout on the climb up Achenbach- a far cry away from trail running with a handheld bottle, gels, and a dinky point and shoot.

DSC_0229 - Version 2

The drought is immediately obvious in the vegetations, paired with the abnormal cold spell we had in February that just about decimated the non-native species plants in the region. Somehow beauty is always found both in death and in life.



About 1/3 of the way up the draw, we stopped to look South towards upper Achenbach Canyon and the fringe southern peaks of the Organ Mountains.


Despite the absence of moisture, there is still some evidence of spring and new life in the desert, a testament to the heartiness of nature and the resiliency of native plants in the northern stretches of the Chihuahuan Desert. In a sea of earth tones, it's not difficult to get lost staring into the inner-workings of an <span style="">Opuntia Robustus</span> bloom trailside.

DSC_0243 - Version 2

I almost ended this dude's life, but caught glimpse of him right before I could plant my footstep- Joel and I watched this winged insect hold out against the winds for a minute or two and moved on.


The sun was rising quickly over our heads, but the easing winds cooled things off significantly for the both of us. Our destination was a fairly large cave that I stumbled upon a few months back on a trail run in the area with some friends. This hideout cave is unique, easily could have housed a small group of bandits or native peoples seeking shelter from the elements in a past life. What is most fascinating are the large cutouts used for building fires and retaining heat, as well as the large grain and maize grinding holes in the foot of the cave.

The overhanging mouth of the cave.


Looking North from the interior.


Joel took a while to warm up to his surroundings, but quickly started climbing up cracks in the wall putting me on edge- I'm learning to let him do his thing and explore places without constantly shadowing him, for one it bugs him and he yells at me, but it also makes me tense and not fully enjoy our times together. Learning to strike a balance. He's a stud.




"Time to go dude!"

We chilled for about an hour and cooled off in the shade, threw rocks, picked at vibrant green lichen, and explored the nooks and crannies within. Not wanting to leave yet, Joel let me know and appropriately threw his body on the ground and did the limp body trick- after some smooth talking and kind words I reassured him, the best way I know how to a 2yr. old, that we would definitely be going on another hike very soon. We hiked out quickly back to the trailhead where Gatorade and Purple Vines awaited us in the car. Not a bad way to spend a Saturday morning with my boy.

Past write-ups, trip reports, streams of conscience and ramblings:

Waist High: Wandering the Deep Canyons and Lonely Mesas of the Gila

Guadalupe Mountains National Park \"Fast and Light Overnight in West Texas High Country\"

Gila West: Seeking Enchantment in the Land of the Mogollon

Can't Stand the Heat? Run to the Hills!

Deadman Peaks 50- Ultramarathon on the Continental Divide Trail, Cuba, NM

Desert Wasteland? - White Mountain Wilderness, NM, Three Rivers Canyon Trail, 12/30-12/31/10

Quality Time

Farewell run with \'El Cabrio\' up Dog Canyon

Edited by Eugeneius on 05/15/2011 15:48:39 MDT.

Frank H.

Locale: California
RE: on 05/15/2011 17:11:22 MDT Print View

Looks like you guys had fun.

What child carrier are you using. I've been looking into getting one.

Doug I.
(idester) - MLife

Locale: MidAtlantic
Re: Planting Seeds on 05/15/2011 18:02:27 MDT Print View

Eugene, your pictures of your kids are some of the most delightful I've ever seen. You've got quite a natural photographic talent, and a keen eye. Keep 'em coming!

Oh yeah, enjoyed the trip report too! ;-)

Scott Truong

Locale: Vancouver, BC
RE: Planting Seeds on 05/15/2011 19:14:27 MDT Print View

Good job dude. Now you just got to start playing some Bad Brains on the way to the trail. Just don't let him start skateboarding, you know where that leads. Good looking kid, you a fortunate man.

Aaron Benson
(AaronMB) - F

Locale: Central Valley California
re: "Planting Seeds" on 05/15/2011 19:36:02 MDT Print View

Excellent. Thanks very much for sharing these. ...refreshing when cabin fever hits because final term papers dictate the weekend!

You faired well with that new Nikon of yours.

Edited by AaronMB on 05/15/2011 19:37:34 MDT.

Ken T.
(kthompson) - MLife

Locale: All up in there
Re: "Planting Seeds" on 05/15/2011 22:14:29 MDT Print View

Another excellent report, as always. Thanks for sharing. You make me miss the desert even more.

Eugene Smith
(Eugeneius) - MLife

Locale: Nuevo Mexico
"Planting Seeds" on 05/16/2011 07:40:53 MDT Print View

Thanks all, these are always enjoyable putting together, they allow me to revisit and reflect on rewarding experiences in life.

@ Frank,

Ours is a hand me down REI brand carrier, I really wouldn't recommend it. It's more suited for general short distance walking, but for longer hikes on trail it's pretty ill performing... but it's what I have right now and it does the job well enough.

I'd recommend checking out the Deuter brand carriers, they're expensive but have a nice frame and hipbelt (tried one on at an REI).

todd h
(funnymoney) - MLife

Locale: SE
Re: Planting Seeds on 05/16/2011 08:23:19 MDT Print View

Can't wait to see how the seeds grow.....

Been planting a few of my own.

Robert Justice
(rjustice7) - F

Locale: Central Texas Hill Country
Nice on 05/16/2011 09:33:41 MDT Print View

Spectacular photos and great write-up. I agree 100% about sharing the outdoors with the next generation! It seems like these days teens are more about the mall, shopping, hanging out, playing video games, etc... It's even hard to plan a hiking trip with our youth group. Finally they agreed on a day hike to the local Pedernales State Park and now they're hooked. We've been geocaching too and now I hear them talk about backpacking after looking at my pics. It took a couple of years lol. Gotta pass the torch!

Your son looks fearless by the way lol.

Tom Clark
(TomClark) - MLife

Locale: East Coast
Re: Planting Seeds on 05/28/2011 21:30:08 MDT Print View

Very nice trip report, although I saw through the thinly veiled attempt to show off what a cute kid your son is...shame on you! I always like to see parents take their children our, particularly since we all know that you are used to a very different type of hike. What is that hole in the ground behind your son in the one photo in the cave?
Tom favorite part was when your son through himself down on the ground when it was time to go. Only a parent can truly appreciate that!

Ken T.
(kthompson) - MLife

Locale: All up in there
Re: Re: Planting Seeds on 05/28/2011 21:34:19 MDT Print View

That hole is a mortero if I'm not mistaken. For grinding corn,grains. The first food processor.