My wife, dog Chester and I recently embarked on another one of our Sunday trips around the Las Cruces area to escape the monotony of COVID-19 seclusion. This time, we ventured to Picacho Peak on the northwest side of our city.
We weren’t ready to scale the 4,959 mountain that I always believed to be an extinct volcano. Instead, we chose to walk around the southwest and western perimeter, and some of our walk was in a canyon filled with colorful rocks resulting from the ancient lava flow — not actually a volcano. According to various sources, the lava flow occurred somewhere between nine and 35 million years ago — not exactly a precise time estimate.
What was most interesting to me was the amazingly blue rocks that were scattered in the canyon. Upon further investigation, I learned that they were rhyolite, a rock that forms when certain volcanic flows reach and cool at the surface.
Although the day we walked was overcast and somewhat dark, the blue rocks and strata were an unexpected burst of color. I can’t imagine how much more spectacular they would be after a summertime thundershower when they are wet and glossy and the sun breaks through the clouds to highlight their color. I have a couple more pictures of the blue rocks below, but these photos don’t show them to be as colorful as they were in person.
I did a little more digging to find out about blue rhyolite rocks (not all are blue) and discovered that in some circles, blue ones are believed to be good for a positive mental outlook. As one website breathlessly proclaimed:
“It (blue rhyolite) is a magical stone for people who struggle with esteem, self worth issues, and depression, guiding them towards their joyous potential.“
Well. I’m not sure about that, but I have to say I felt better after seeing them as part of the spectacular desert landscape so near our home. Maybe next year, knowing that abundant seams of blue rhyolite are nearby, my wife, Chester and I will be filled with enough “self worth” to attempt to hike up to the top of Picacho Peak.