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Cookes Peak, highest point in Luna County, 1st Labor of Hercules

Cookes Peak is the highest point in Luna County. At ~8,400 ft, its height rivals peaks in the Organ Mountains, and is easily seen from Las Cruces (look east from the top of Tortugas Mountain) and Interstate 10 as you drive towards Deming. It was a major landmark of the Butterfield Trail as it passed through southern New Mexico.

Cooke's Peak is the first in a series of geocaches in southern New Mexico called the Labor of Hercules.

While there is a trail, expect it to be weak and overgrown.

The drive out there is some 1.5 hours. We'll make a pit stop in Deming before heading out to the mountain.

If you are a guest of the United States (i.e. non-citizen), there is a US Customs & Border Patrol checkpoint demarcating passage to/from what the ACLU calls a "Constitution-Free Zone". If this bothers you, please donate to the ACLU and harass your congress critters; otherwise please bring appropriate documentation of your entry into the US (passports, visas, etc—you know better what you need than we do). Group hikes are not the place to make a stand for your civil liberties.

DISTANCE: ~10 mi, out and back.


FEES: None. Of course, if you carpool, please compensate your driver for gas!

DURATION: Finish by mid to late afternoon. I recommend everyone free up the entire day and allow others to take their time.

PET FRIENDLY? Yes. Bring a muzzle (you shouldn't need be told to bring a proper leash), and if you'd like to unleash, ask others before you do so.

SKILL LEVEL: *NOT* beginner friendly. No whiners!

TERRAIN: is technically on-trail, but will be rough. Towards the tops there is light rock scrambling.

WEATHER: is 30% chain of thunderstorms, high near 70. Check the NWS forecast for more details.

ROAD CONDITIONS:: we'll be on paved roads until a turn-off northeast of Deming, after which we'll turn off onto usually well-maintained ranch dirt roads. Friendly to most 2WD cars; please don't bring your sports car w/ low-profile tires.

RECOMMENDED CLOTHING & EQUIPMENT:: long pants, closed boots. Hiking poles if you're uncomfortable with loose terrain.


MEET for carpool at:

• Las Cruces: 7:00 am, in/outside Milagro Coffee at Pan Am Plaza. Open at 6:30 am on the weekends, the coffee, breakfast burritos, and bagels (fresh on the weekends) are all good here. GPS: [masked]°N,[masked]°W (see on Google Maps, OpenStreetMap, USGS topo map)
• El Paso: 6:15 am, I-10 and Redd Road Kohl's, in the south end of the parking lot near Starbucks. GPS: [masked]°N,[masked]°W (see on Google Maps, OpenStreetMap, USGS topo map). Note: your host is not meeting here, please self-organize!

MORE information:

Cookes Peak on SummitPost

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  • Richard J.

    Hello everyone;
    It is 2 days now and my leg soreness is way down. Soon I will be able to hike again, although not next week because I am going out of town.
    I have a walki-talki, a good Army compass, a caving headlamp, and binoculars. I will be taking them on the next trip.
    I am willing to chip in to buy safety equipment for the club, but we need to ask others to chip in as well. We can have a fun, good exercising experience for all, but safety must always be on our mind.

    1 · October 21, 2015

  • AJ P.

    In general, there were far too many close calls on this trip. I grossly underestimated this trip, and I think we all would agree that we were unprepared and only narrowly avoided the worst. I think there are many lessons to be learned that ought to be shared with the entire Jornada group for unfamiliar, potentially long/strenuous hikes in order to increase everyone's safety. After all, no place is worth hiking when you might have to be rescued or when your life is threatened. For hikes like this, I have come up with a short list of things that I think should be a mandatory minimum on similar trips, no matter the confidence in the group's knowledge of the area.
    Depending on the hike and the size of the group, at least the following should be packed by the group:
    -2-3 backup GPS (not just cell phone)
    -a topographical map
    -backup cell phone batteries
    -headlamps with backup batteries.
    -hand-held radios with backup batteries
    -magnetic compasses
    -first aid kit
    -pants, long sleeves, and gloves packed

    Feel f

    October 19, 2015

    • AJ P.

      Perhaps we could even have a safety meeting of some sort for any and all people who would like to learn about hiking and how to do so safely. That sort of knowledge could even increase members' confidence in wanting to attempt more difficult hikes. I feel very strongly about taking precautionary action to keep anything like this from happening to any other group on any hike.

      October 19, 2015

    • Kenny J.

      Thank you for the feedback! We will take your suggestions under consideration.

      October 19, 2015

  • Yvonne D.

    More walkie talkie's would be awesome, but of course we can't expect the organizers to supply them for every hiker. It's a good idea that anyone who wants to make sure they can stay in touch with others on the hike bring them.

    October 19, 2015

    • Samat

      Working on an email recommending people buy them… on the cheap end you can get them for $15/each, $30 on the high end for long battery life splash proof ones.

      October 19, 2015

    • Yvonne D.

      Well worth the money. Thanks for that info.

      October 19, 2015

  • Richard J.

    The hike of my life literally. It was a hair raising insane Meetup. I think everyone that went desires a metal for making it back alive. I recommend more walkitalkes, more flashlights, more planning on what to do after dark,
    the trail was gone and this made the trip much harder. Good comment, it was a great move to drive the vehicles further in. The hike was very long, great exercise, and a great experience I hope not to repeat.

    2 · October 19, 2015

  • Yvonne D.

    You've all heard me say I'm seeking adventure right now in my life -- this hike definitely provided that. Lol! Thanks everyone for the great times on the hike and thanks everyone for being so great, hanging in there and watching out for each other during the difficult times!!!!!

    2 · October 19, 2015

  • Tony C.

    Adventurous to say the least! Dodging flying, deadly rocks and racing down a treacherous Arroyo to beat darkness notwithstanding, it was good to make it to the top of Cooke's Peak and view the beautiful scenery. Thank you Yvonne and Richard for staying strong in the face of adversity.

    1 · October 19, 2015

  • Ryan C.

    Fun hike! Glad you guys are doing this one! I'd love to do it in winter again with ice and snow!

    1 · October 15, 2015

  • Samat

    The chance of thunderstorms this Sunday is 30%, so if the road is muddy I may have to cancel (I don't have 4WD; do others?). Past that, I expect to hike rain or shine.

    October 15, 2015

  • Richard J.

    I have been there but never climbed the peak.

    October 6, 2015

8 went

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