Monday, August 5, 2013

Look Ma, no bottoms!!

Well, actually, the lakes really do have a bottom.  It's just an old cowboy story.  In the 1800s the lakes were a stop on the Goodnight Loving and Chisolm trails.  The legend says that the cowboys tied their ropes together to find out how deep the lakes were but couldn't find bottom so they gave them the name.  Unfortunately they didn't know they were dealing with underwater currents.

I am camping at Bottomless Lakes State Park about 12 miles east of Roswell, New Mexico, and I think if they didn't have a policy requiring you leave after 14 days I would stay here forever.  It is truly a beautiful place to be camped.  Well, there's also the fact that I don't have a sewer hook up and I think the black tank is getting close to its limit.  But seriously, dear readers, if you ever find yourself in this part of the country you should at least come spend the day here. 

Looking down from the bluff.  My camper is at the back.
Now for some background.  First of all, they aren't really lakes.  They are sinkholes ranging in depth from 17 to 90 feet that were formed when underground water from subterranean caverns dissolved salt and gypsum deposits.  So basically the lakes are the collapsed roofs of ancient caves.  And did I mention salt?  Lea Lake is the swimming lake at the campground and it is 1% saline as opposed to the ocean's 3% saline content.  Needless to say you need to shower off the salty lake water after swimming.  But the swimming is so fine here.  It's a lake but the water is so clear that you can see down to the bottom even at 20 foot depths.  There is a pavilion and water tower by the lake that was built by the CCC in the 1930s.  It's all at the base of a huge red bluff.  There's even an overlook area at the top of the bluff where I took this picture.

There are a total of 8 lakes in the park with names like Lazy Lagoon and Devil's Inkwell.  My favorite is Mirror Lake which is 50 ft deep and during the low water season (like now) there is a narrow strip of land that seems to divide the lake into 2 parts.
Mr. Big Ears
Oddly enough, only one side of the lake supports living creatures.  I'm told that in the winter the park is filled with ducks and swans and even sandhill cranes.  All I've spotted so far is a blue grosbeak, a couple of common nighthawks, a small flock of lark buntings, and plenty of jack rabbits and lizards.  The tamarisk trees are lovely with their soft blue-green foliage against dark brown bark, but the mesquite trees with their treacherous thorns hold no beauty for me.  When I ride my bike on the trails I make sure to steer clear of the thorns.  Even a dead branch on the ground could send a thorn through my tire and turn my ride into a walk. 

So I am enjoying myself thoroughly here but will have to leave soon.  Until then I will take another swim, another trail walk, another bike ride.  Maybe find another cache (there are 12 in the park) or go out to the bird blinds to look for those elusive ducks.

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