Welcome to the 2017 Celebration of Our Mountains
It is with great sadness that we dedicate this year’s COM to Karl Putnam, an avid and intrepid hiker and a good friend. On July 2nd Karl fell 30 feet after passing out during a group picture. Ten days later, he died. The accident happened at one of Karl’s favorite places to take groups of hikers, the site of a B-24 crash in Red Rock Canyon. Ironically, Karl was the one who replaced the rotting cross at the site. He had also created a new plaque with the names of those who died in that crash. (The original bronze plaque was later found.) To his fellow hikers he was known as GOM - “God of the Mountains”. Karl loved hiking and climbing in the Franklins. What he most loved, however, was helping others to get outdoors and enjoy those same mountains. He led over 300 hikes and was beloved by all. Karl was our friend and all of us will miss him.
I think that he would have enjoyed this year’s Celebration of Our Mountains. There are plenty of hikes, field trips (including visiting prehistoric trackways, seeing creepy crawlies at night, desert cacti, and aquatic invertebrates at Hueco Tanks), mountain biking, bicycling, bird watching, star gazing and even a trip to an old mining ghost town.
There are a few field trips this year that can be categorized as “science and technology”. Thanks to El Paso Water and the El Paso Electric Company, you can learn about some of the things they are doing to help our environment. These events are marked with a ★ for Celebration of Our Science and Technology.
In the back of the Guide, check out events at the Franklin Mountains State Park, Hueco Tanks State Park and Historic Site, the Guadalupe Mountains National Park and Leasburg Dam State Park. You will find Prehistoric Trackways and other great events there.
Thanks to the Las Cruces Local Office of the BLM, we will visit sites in the Robledos and Organ Mountains. This is so important now because Interior Secretary Zinke is considering whether to reduce the size of Organ Mountains Desert Peaks National Monument.
Also, thanks to Robert Diaz of the El Paso Historical Society, there will again be a hike to the B-36 wreckage. This was one of Karl’s favorite places to take people and he did so annually for Celebration.
I call attention to a talk by ecologist, Dr. Paul Hyder: “What, Why, Where, and Who of Deserts”. The talk will help frame your experiences at COM events. The topics covered are a useful introduction for anyone participating in the Celebration of Our Mountains desert hikes and local field trips. It will be given on Wednesday, September 6th at 7 PM at the Memorial Park Garden Center, 3105 Grant Avenue.
Thank you to all who have volunteered to lead our events, interpret what we see and teach us new skills.
There are links to meet-up locations at www.celebmtns.org.
It’s going to be a great Celebration of Our Mountains this year. Enjoy and learn!
Jim Tolbert, Director
Celebration of Our Mountains
P.S. The guide does have one fake event. See if you can find it.