When I first drove into Alpine, I noticed a quite impressive pyramid-shaped peak rising out of the desert. It was visible starting a few miles from Alpine along 67.
On my way to visit Davis Mountain State Park (see the previous entry. Confusing, eh?), about 10 miles outside of Alpine, I turned onto Mitre Peak Road which seemed like it would lead to the base of the peak.
Indeed it did. However, the presence of barbed wire fences indicated that this wasn't public land. I asked at the neighboring Mitre Peak Camp (a Girl Scout camp) if it was possible to climb it. The Camp didn't own the peak, it was owned by an out of town rancher. The peak is 6100', and it appears rough from both the front and the back.
Apparently, there have been problems with people running into problems when trying to climb it. If you take the right route it (supposedly) doesn't require ropes. But, one party took over 12 hours to get up and down, and another party had to be airlifted from the top.
After that, the owner apparently decided to disallow access. In any other western state, there's a fair chance that this peak would be on Forest Service or BLM land. However, there is almost no public land in Texas. Other than Texas' state parks, various city parks, and a few National Parks, everything is privately owned.
The map in the BLM office in Carlsbad was quite striking. Splotches of color showed BLM and FS presence throughout Utah, New Mexico, Nevada, and California. Nevada was almost all salmon pink. Whereas Texas was almost all white, with the exception of the National Parks.
I might have more to say about this subject later, but for now I'm still trying to decide which is worse: the taking of rights or property by a government agency, or private land owners being allowed to hog things like Mitre Peak all to themselves.
Apparently there's a land rights proponent in Alpine who is continually writing letters to the editor in opposition to The Nature Conservancy; I have her phone number and perhaps I'll do a spot of real reporting at a later date.
BloggingAcrossAmerica · Mon, 12/01/2003 - 23:09 · Importance: 1