Thursday, September 29, 2011

The Mountains of the Lost Mesa

The open range country of the Otero Mesa is surrounded on three sides by mountain ranges.  To the north is the Sacramento Mountains, to the east the great wall of the Guadalupe Mountains, and to the south are the lonely peaks of the Horned Mountains. 


It is the lonely peaks of the Horned Mountains that I regularly visit and photograph.  


The range is unique, unknown, and seldom visited.  Much like the entire Otero Mesa are if you mention the Cornudas Mountains, people will draw a blank.  It is just not a range that is known.  Cornudas is Spanish for "horned" and I generally prefer to call them the Horned Mountains.  It sounds better somehow.


Each mountain of the range is a stand alone mountains almost like they were randomly dropped from the sky.  In a typical mountain range there is a crest with several peaks rising from the crest.  Here you have several individual mountains rising out of the open range of the Otero Mesa.

Not only is each peak unique, they look vastly different.  Some like Wind Mountain are like a giant pyramid.  Others like Alamo and Flat Top are truly flat topped (almost like a mesa). Finally Cornudas Mountain itself is just a jumble of rocks.


I understand that all of them are volcanic in origin, although none are volcanoes.  There are various igneous and I believe metamorphic rocks to be found in different areas and on different peaks.  Some rocks are covered in petroglyphs and other rocks are pure granite.


The lonely quality of those individual peaks rising out of the open range grasslands give the Horned Mountains an almost mythic quality.  Something more out of a story than reality.  Each one different. Each one something unique.  


That makes every angle here different.  I can photograph each peak as an individual and the entire range.  The view changes with each location.  


Every trip here takes me to new sights and new ways to view and photograph these peaks.


Here are a few views.  The top image takes in most of the range at sunrise.  Note how each peak can be seen to stand out as a unique mountain and the different shapes.  The middle image is of Flat Top Mountain in the afternoon.  It is obvious how it got its name.  Finally the third image is of the jumble of rocks that is Cornudas Peak.