A Choice of Two Trails
Slaughter Canyon is part of Carlsbad Caverns National Park, as you can see on this map:
Does this mean we have already seen Slaughter Canyon's entrance from a distance, like when we visited Rattlesnake Springs?
Yes, from the picnic area:
Did we see it when we walked alongside the Black River? Yes we did, above that fence post:
Did we see it any better as we walked south along the Black River? Yes we did, there was this view:
So, let's go into this canyon.
Once you arrive at the entry point to the canyon, you have two clear choices for trails:
So what do you do when you have a choice?
You do both, of course.
Being older, not particularly wiser, I did one trail one day, and the other on another day almost a month later, but still officially winter, though by afternoon it was in the mid 80s (F, of course, or I'd be dead).
After the Slaughter Canyon Trail, when I came dragging back to the parking lot overheated and bloody on arms and hands from fighting with barbed vegetation, I was greeted by a group of nice ladies who offered me water and first aid. I gratefully accepted the water:
I had broken my own rule for desert hiking: turn around when you are halfway done with your water.
Why did I break my own rule? Because I was very close to the ridge looking out of the canyon, and did not want to turn back. As a consequence I was unable to sweat on approach to the parking area, the first sign of a potential heat stroke. So I did learn my lesson once again: half the water gone? Turn around.
Coming downhill in desert mountains may not be all that strenuous, but it is likely to be much warmer than when going uphill in the morning. When I started, I was wishing I had brought a jacket. When I returned, I was wishing clothes were optional. The mid 80's, with no wind, in a canyon with sun reflecting off the light-colored canyon floor as well as its sides is quite warm.
These very thoughtful ladies were here with husbands and children celebrating the discovery of Slaughter Canyon Cave by their grandfather. It was like a family reunion.
I am hoping that one of them remembers the name of this website (she said she would, and was writing it down when I left) and sends me the story of their grandfather's find so that, with their permission, I can post it here.
Searching the internet, I did find that the cave was discovered by a Tom Tucker in July of 1937 (click on the link to see for yourself). That same website says the cave and its canyon were added to Carlsbad Caverns National Park by President Franklin D. Roosevelt's signature in February of 1939.
Please check back using my 2011 Yearbook Page. I will announce there when I have been able to add in the discovery story as told by his very nice and very helpful descendents.
The Trail to Slaughter Canyon Cave
(in three sub-parts)
The Slaughter Canyon Trail
(in seven sub-parts)
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