Three from the Black Range

More fall color photos are coming eventually, but in the meantime I thought I’d share a few from our trip down south last week. We had been planning a four-day backpack in the Gila Wilderness, but when it was time to leave my wife was fighting illness and we were both exhausted. So we scaled back plans to a couple easy overnights. These shots are from the second of those, to Hillsboro Peak in southern New Mexico’s Black Range. You take whatever lakes you can get in that part of the state, but Hillsboro Lake was an unexpectedly beautiful little gem, hidden just off the range crest and ringed with aspens.

Hillsboro Lake in New Mexico's Aldo Leopold Wilderness

Though it lies just at the boundary of the Aldo Leopold Wilderness, one of New Mexico’s largest and least-visited, Hillsboro Peak’s summit is not exactly pristine. But the old Forest Service cabin from the ’30s was well-maintained, and gave us a nice shelter from the constant wind. We didn’t sleep inside due to mouse turds, but the porch was perfect, with a few gold aspens just out the front door. And the views from the fire lookout were killer, especially as a little rain storm blew through.

Autumn rainstorm over Hillsboro Peak in New Mexico's Black Range, October 2010.
You can see an awful lot of New Mexico from Hillsboro, and the vast majority of the viewshed was quite satisfyingly empty. The only towns of any note in sight were Silver City (pop. ~10.500) and Truth or Consequences (~7,000), Las Cruces being just off the southeast horizon; everything else in this neighborhood is really small (e.g. Kingston, pop. ~30). But southern New Mexico is basin-and-range country, so mountain ranges are everywhere, corrugated land rippling away to all horizons.

Looking southwest from Hillsboro Peak in New Mexico's Black Range, October 2010.
Just for fun, some real New Mexico style fall color:

Autumn and cholla in New Mexico's Black Range, October 2010.

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6 thoughts on “Three from the Black Range

  1. I’ve been in that country, but only in the foothills and other lower areas. I had no idea that anything like the lake was up there. I do love the fact that you can stand next to an alligator juniper and, with binos, see either ocotillo or golden aspens and that if you were on the right drainage and in shape you could hike from one to the other in a day. As always, wonderful photos.

    • Thanks Mike! It’s very cool country, though it’s coolness is of a very photographically challenging sort. But I try, and can’t wait to get back and try again.

      Hillsboro Lake is a lovely little pond, but what you see in the shot is about 75% of it. Still pretty good for that country. Mimbres Lake, further north on the crest, is slightly larger I believe, but that’s about it for standing water in the Black Range.

    • Thanks Aaron! There are ways in which the greater Gila country reminds me of central Idaho: I guess it’s largely the ponderosas and the way a lot of the country can’t seem to decide if it wants to be mountain or desert.

  2. Jackson, being a native son of New Mexico, these images are very special to me. Although I haven’t spent much time in the mountains of NM or CO recently, seeing images like this always bring me back to them very easily. Your work has a very real sense of place to it.

    Cheers,
    Greg

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