Trail rider Caroline McCoy shares the beauty of riding through New Mexico's deserts in the spring and discovers a waterfall along the way.
photos and story by Caroline Ames McCoy
Spring winds can make us feel like our minds, skin, hair and souls are being desiccated. In search of water, a friend and I drove past Carrizo Lake by the Inn of the Mt. Gods outside of Ruidoso and were astonished by its beautiful green-turquoise color. We kept going.
The bottom of a narrow canyon to the southeast of Highway 70 sparkled with rivulets of running water. We were hauling horses. We stopped. Kiowa, Deborah Voorhees' Paint horse, drinks with surprise. The entire canyon seemed wet, cool on the feet, easy going.
As we moved on further and further to the east, the canyon floor became carpets of flat rock, rising in tiers, each one a little higher than the last with small falls cascading over.
Most of them were easy for the horses to jump up but at this one, Cody and Peach, said...."Ummm, do we jump this one, or is there a better route?"
The canyon was a virtual desert ecosystem with many variety of cacti and hawks nests of branches balanced on small rock ledges which blackened thieves were visiting. I suspect the ravens were stealing eggs. Tiny birds with loud screams warned of our encroachment.
Each new tier of the canyon surrounded us with high rock walls that looked like modern watercolor paintings, or sculptures.
Only a short hour from the beginning of our ride we heard a clattering sound. There it was. A twenty foot waterfall! Deborah is wide-eyed at the discovery.
Of course we photograph each other. The horses had never seen anything like this before and were a little nervous with water splattering at their feet. We were surrounded by cool damp air and droplets of water.
This is me and Peach at the bottom of the falls.
Looking up at the ledge almost twenty-feet above us, we wondered where does this water come from? Is this like the Grand Canyon above the falls.....flat desert and then suddenly the big drop? We hunted and hunted for a way up to the top. We got penned by a box canyon.
We tried game trails which were too steep, tried the other side of the canyon, horses lunging to the top–– quite a climb. At the top of the hills where we had managed to climb, we could see nothing other than more canyons, more hills... but, we are still curious. Back home in Nogal, I was happy to see the wind had not blown off all the peach blossoms.
Desert spring is amazing. Can't wait for the ocotillo to start blooming. Hope you enjoyed this fascinating canyon as much as we did.
About the Author: Caroline McCoy rides the White Mountain Wilderness and the Fort Stanton Trail system almost every week of the year on her Quarter Horse mare, Peach. McCoy is age 74 and Peach is 14. McCoy hopes to ride her partner 'til the end of both of their lives. McCoy makes a photo-journal of many of her rides and is about to publish a book of these rides. Anyone wishing to be on her "My Rides" email list may request to do so via email.
- Riding in Lincoln County’s White Mountain Wilderness, New Mexico
- Horseback Riding McDowell Mountain Park Trail in Arizona
- Horse Riding New Mexico- The Argentina Trail Loop Photo Journey
- New Mexico Dude Ranches & Horse Riding Photo Journey
- 10 Great Places to Horse Ride- #6 Canyon de Chelly, Arizona
- Chaz - The Mustang from White Sands, New Mexico
- Meet Your Host - New Mexico Horse Adventures
- Arizona’s Hideout Ranch - A Rider’s Review