Last Sun. I took the kids and the truck out for a merry romp out by the gun range. My objective was just to explore more down there and then see if I couldn't get over the hills and come out Box Canyon. The short story is: Yep, you sure can.
The long story: I was dazed and somewhat shaking when I got home. Definitely an overdose of stress in parts there.
I left Socorro around 10:30am with lunch for me and the kids. I got back almost 6 yours later. To be fair though, a lot of that time was spent exploring dead ends and such before even trying to head out towards Box. We got out and walked around 5 or 6 times as well. Most of the roads out there on the south east side of those hills lead to rock quarries. There was one interesting place high up that I had hoped would lead down the other side (but didn't). It ended in a quarry with 3 walls probably 30ft tall or so. It had decent flat space in the middle that could be a fun camp/party location... if it wasn't full of shit people apparently brought out for a bonfire and all the broken glass. No water or trees anywhere of course, but provided enough liquor and games it could be fun after a cleanup.
There was one trail that I couldn't quite follow that may lead through and get you on the other side of the hills, but other than that, I only found 1 trail that went through and... it was a hell of an adventure. My primary issue was I didn't actually know if the trail would somehow get me out to Box or anywhere else for that matter. Couple that with my only backup being a 4 year old and a 2 year old and we were able to crank the stress up to 11. Somewhere on that route early on was a hell of a rock strewn washout followed by a hundred yards or more of large rocks. If Jess were there she would have made me turn around and we would have avoided this whole thing.
However, she was not. So, I had the kids get out and play a little ways back and proceeded to damn near get myself stuck but good. It's hard to describe, I should have brought a camera, but there was a trench filled with large rocks on the left and then what was left of the road on the right, but my truck was too wide for that and the trail sloped up to the right too steeply anyway. Going up the trail, the rock trench got shallower and not quite as wide. My plan was to start on the right side and go up at the too steep angle for just a little way to get past the deepest part of the trench and then cut hard down into the trench and get my tires up on the left bank of the trench and just leave my right wheels in it.
It damn near worked! Except that shortly up the trail the truck slid (earlier than I would have liked) towards the trench. I did get far enough though, so I went ahead down into the trench. I couldn't get my tires up the left bank though. Balls. I got out the shovel and digging bar and made sure the bottom of the truck was clear and tried to dig out the bank a little so I could get up. Before I tried to drive again though I realized that I could keep the left wheels in the trench and keep the right up on the right bank until almost the end of the trench and then cut over to the left side and get out of the trench. The rocks in this trench were still pretty dang big, but it worked fine.
When I got out Eugene actually cheered. Ha! What really made this more stressful was that I almost got stuck, the kids were not 100% cooperative, but they did ok, and after this somewhat harry trial, I didn't even know if the damn trail would just dead end in 200 yards anyway!
Luckily it did not. That was the worst romping obstacle. The trail did, at times, pretty much disappear though. It led up into the hills and most of it looked to have been made by an ATV, not a truck or jeep even. At one point we made it to the top of a hill and then it looked like the ATV basically said "fuck it, I'm getting off this rock one way or another" and went barreling down the hill. It wasn't that bad, but it was definitely a rarely used track and sometimes hard to follow. Again, the only real stress there was not knowing that it actually made it all the way down the hill and into the nice big sandy arroyo at the bottom.
After weaseling around a bit, it did make it all the way down though. From up on the hill, I saw 2 roads down there. 1 to the left that more or less stayed in the arroyo and another to the right that went up another set of hills. I asked Eugene and he suggested right, so away we went! It led to a mine and dead ended. No big deal. We had another road to explore that could take us out of here....and then we blew a tire getting off the mine road on a really sharp switch back. At least there was flat ground in the corner of the switch back. Stress dial goes back up to 11. Thank God (and Keith) we had a good spare tire. Now, however, we had no more backups and I still didn't know how to get out of there and it was getting a little darker. Great.
The rest of the trip was uneventful though. The road following the arroyo did indeed take us out onto a well graded wide dirt road that ended us in Box canyon (not on the road out to alcohol wall, the one the ranch is on). So there you go. According to google earth, it was about 12 miles.
Really, I guess it wasn't quite from Hw1 to Hw60, because Hw1 really crosses over to the other side of I-25 before that frontage road gets to the dirt that goes out to the gun range, but close enough. I'm pretty sure I could have driven on the dirt shoulder on the frontage road if it makes you feel better.
One last tidbit. We're still potty training my daughter. I had intended to bring along her training potty in case she had to go (which was inevitable). Well I forgot it and didn't have any pullups or spare underwear, pants, anything. Again, luckily we stopped at the recycling center to drop off some cardboard on the way out. To hold it down in the truck bed on the way, I threw a cinder block in the back on top of it all. As it turns out, cinder blocks are conveniently equipped with 2 holes that one may sit over...
The kids thought that was hilarious and awesome. Get 'er done!