There’s the old seafarer’s red sky at morn sailors be warned. Hikers need a similar cautioning like white trail at dawn hikers may face plant on the rocks. It doesn’t roll off the tongue as nicely, but a good reminder none-the-less.
Getting to the highest point at Santa Fe Ski takes about an hour of SLOW progress. Up hill hiking in thin air provides ample opportunity to pause and enjoy the view across the valley to Los Alamos, the one time secret location of the Manhattan Project.
In town it feels like fall + summer = fummer. But up here at 12,000 feet the ski hill employees are getting ready for a new season. Trickles of water flow under thin patches of ice. Winds chap your face to a bright red. And aspens transition from yellow to brown. Riding the lift for a better view just $12.
On an abandoned road outside Santa Fe New Mexico I surprised this coyote looking for a meal. At my home just up the road it’s common to see a roadrunner around the structure looking for small lizards and bugs. Overall a good example of the food chain here in the high desert.
Of course all the days are 24 hours but FALL officially ends today starting WINTER’S slow progression. A nice lenticular cloud formed over the western horizon and cool blasts of air tell us to watch the time or get caught on the trail after sunset now at the latter end of the 4 o’clock hour.
Out west people stop on the roadside to take pictures of the setting sun. It’s a good time to count your cold weather blessings too…yes another day of direct sunshine and free vitamin D.
A ten mile hike through the foothills of the Sangre de Cristo Mountains puts one in the right frame of mind to handle the upcoming holiday stress. It’s also an effective way to burn extra calories in anticipation of the inevitable holiday treats!
6-7 million years ago volcanoes dispersed ash and rock over what’s now northern New Mexico in some areas up to 1000 feet thick! Weather, wind and water flows have eroded these deposits leaving an unworldly place now called Tent Rocks National Monument. In recent millennia native peoples have lived here (notice the fire scorched cave ceiling) benefiting from its closeness to the Rio Grande.
Winter is the right time to hike New Mexico. No scorpions or rattlesnakes in sight. John Wayne riding through an arroyo after the bad guys is easy to imagine (his movie The Cowboys was filmed here in 1972). Sharing a trail with a steer is possible if you’re near good water. And coyotes call to each other late into the night. One down side: it’s almost impossible to stop humming Happy Trails.
The next time someone says they’d like to live in the mountains imagine life in the Puye Cliff Dwellings of northern New Mexico. Over the course of a millennia Native Americans dug caves and built adobe like structures into the mountain for shelter in winter. Pottery shards are widely scattered displaying their creative use of color and design.