Maybe I am somewhat obsessed by Devils Den Canyon.
In 2014 I did four hikes in and around that canyon (linked below).
But I was a fool and thought I had never reached the Devils Den Canyon Wilderness Study Area!
So in January of 2015 I decided to go to the WSA, and thought I had failed again. Then I went back to the BLM website and map and discovered I had actually been in the WSA several times already!
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The first page of my 2014 forays into and around Devils Den Canyon and its WSA (linked below) explain that the trails are un-maintained and badly marked in places, and the trails do NOT match the ones shown on the topo maps one buys from the Forest Service.
In 2014 I praised the Bureau of Land Management website for having an accurate description of the trail through the canyon and to the WSA.
We once again start on the trail shown on the currently sold Forest Service map book for the Guadalupe Mountains as Trail 202, although that is not its number anymore, the trail has been abandoned (the first 2014 link below shows much more of this trail). The trace of the trail is clearly visible here at the start and onto the next ridge. We are once again going down and to the right off this photo. The wall facing us beyond the foothill-like ridge to the right of the main ridge is the south wall of Devils Den Canyon. Turns out I was looking in the wrong place for the WSA. I was looking to the right of that lower ridge where the drainage --in private land-- supports a very nice stand of trees. But reading the BLM website's description, and looking again at its photo taken from the WSA, told me that the WSA IS that lower parallel ridge and its surriundings! In other words this photo gives you a view of the WSA!
This trail has been pictured before, so we will just stop a very few times to look at the nice color contrasts where there is a little snow:
Last time I went two different ways to get past this little gully, since the location of the trail is well camouflaged here and I frankly missed the trail in both directions, for a while. This time I looked more carefully and stayed on the trail and just went straight through the gully and saw the trail on the other side. It is covered with vegetation, but still there:
To make a long story less long, this time where the trail becomes impossible to follow on the downward slope away from the cliff wall, I stayed on the north end, the side I had come back up last time I was here. These are views of deer trails on that slope, they lead nowhere for very long, but zig zagging from one to the other makes for progress on this moderately steep slope:
Thank goodness for the deer trails. They go through these thickets of scrub oak. The deer that made them were not migrating, just feeding here and there, so they have no longer term destination and end abruptly:
NOW I KNOW that this last photo shows the WSA! Once at the bottom of this slope we come to a stand of trees we visited when all was green here, and colorful with flowers (see the 2014 hikes).
When we look back up from these trees, we see we have come a long way down:
Now we are at the fenceline, and walk along the fence until the Forest Service map book and the BLM web site, promise us a path into the WSA. [Actually where the fence turns away from us we are already in the WSA!]
See next page.
Go to Second Devils Den WSA in 2015 Page
Go to Third Devils Den WSA in 2015 Page
First three 2014 hikes into and around Devils Den Canyon
Fourth 2014 hike by Devils Den Canyon
Go Back to 2015 Yearbook Page
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