Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Go Forth and Multiply, Little Aspens!

For several years now, I've followed a path in the woods south of Camp May Road. Every year, I look forward to small group of young aspens turning golden.  I call them my Pet Aspens.  I was happy to see today that even though they are very near trees singed in the Las Conchas wildfire, most look healthy and are producing scads of catkins.  It really, truly is Spring!

Fully loaded with catkins!

More aspen catkins against blue sky.

Mystery Box Along Pueblo Canyon Rim Trail

This mystery box is on the Pueblo Canyon Rim Trail, near the Los Alamos Airport terminal.  Each time I pass this large, concrete box (it even has a lid), I wonder from whence it came?  And why the pipe opening on one side?

Hope it's not RADIOACTIVE!

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Snowy Portion of Pueblo Canyon Rim Trail

I started late on my walk and didn't feel like driving to a trailhead so I decided to walk on the Pueblo Canyon Rim Trail, going east along the airport fence.  It started out promising - Pueblo Canyon below me basked in warmth and sunshine and although the trail had isolated patches of snow, ice and mud, it was mostly dry.  

As I approached the shaded part of the trail above the Zipline Trail and saw all the unmelted snow, I cringed.  I'd optimistically (stupidly) only brought along a ski pole. Mostly it was OK but on one tough section, the snow sloped downward from the shaded hillside, forcing me to the very edge of the trail where mud made the footing slippery.  If I fell, I didn't see a safety net catch me - it looked like I'd slide off the cliff.  I resorted to the "seat of the pants" method to get past the bad part.  The rest of the trail to Pajarito Cliffs Site was wonderful compared to this snowy section.  I'll wait until the all the snow melts before I hike this trail again!

no snow in Pueblo Canyon

lots of snow ahead

 a shovel to flatten out the snow would be handy 

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Drove into the Jemez

Hadn't been in the Jemez for a while so I drove up yesterday and walked on the Dome Road starting from NM4 and going to Graduation Flats.  The forest service sign forbidding foot traffic is still posted on the locked gate.

Just after the Bandelier-forest service boundary, I was treated to another sign - that of a tree falling on a person.  Guess that is to warn what will happen to scofflaws like me.  My excuse is that everything in Bandelier is open and the first couple of miles of the Dome Road are in Bandelier.  The scofflaw part was walking a little bit past the Bandelier boundary line to see how Graduation Flats meadow fared during the Las Conchas wildfire.

Saw lots of elk print on the road so they are out and about.  The ice on the road is virtually all gone but there are some muddy spots.

I saw no vehicles on the road except at end when I was back at my car, changing my shoes, and a green forest service pickup pulled up to the locked gate and just sat there.  I felt like walking over and turning myself in but didn't.  Instead, I sat in my car and ate lunch with a pleasant view of Scooter Peak meadow.  The forest service guys eventually left.  I just missed being caught flagrantly trespassing on the closed road!  If I'd still been walking on the road and saw the forest service guys waiting at the locked gate, I'd have run away into the snowy woods!  My "bravery" astounds even me!!

On the drive back home, saw the view below of the San Miguel Mountains, with Boundary Peak and St. Peter's Dome.  You'll have to believe that in real time, the view was magnificent and larger than life.  I parked at the County Line Trail, near where the highway department was replacing guardrail posts, and walked uphill to take the picture.  I'm hoping someone with a digital SLR will go out to capture this view and do it justice before the snow melts.

Since I'd parked there, I took photos of the awful flood damage to the County Line Trail area.  A flood of boulders washed down the hillside after last summer's Las Conchas fire and the subsequent monsoon floods.  Fire and flood greatly compress geological time.

along Dome Road, charcoal stick trees with boulder

I'm in trouble; just past Bandelier boundary line

Graduation Flats meadow with background view of badly burnt area of Rabbit Ridge; the white dumpster bin has small boulders in it

forbidding sign and locked gate with Scooter Peak in background

Scooter Peak meadow

from NM4, view of San Miguel Mountains across badly burnt area of Frijoles Canyon and Sawyer Mesa

flood wrought boulder field at County Line Trail area at Sandoval-Los Alamos county line

Well, here I go breaking my brevity rule for this blog!  I meant to post this in Los Alamos Woods Wanderer but forgot and uploaded the photos to Los Alamos, New Mexico.  Hey, you know what - I absolutely love being verbose!!

Mulling the Caja del Rio Plateau

For hikers reluctant to set forth on a hike without promise of a view at the end, the prize destination for most White Rock area hikes is a view of the Rio Grande flowing through White Rock Canyon.  

At the Potrillo Canyon Trail overlook, where I hiked Monday, when I look straight across White Rock Canyon, first photo below, and see the wide, steep stream bed in the rugged canyon on the other side, I seem to remember long ago taking a pack trail down the side of that canyon.  It was a very rough trail and I don't remember how far we went or the exact path.  The hike was led by Bonnie Griffiths who led a group of us women on many satisfying adventure hikes.  This was pre-GPS units and Bonnie would look at a topo map, pick out an interesting place and go there to enact ground truth.  At one point, we hiked 3 days a week and even allowed an honorary man in our group!  

The Caja del Rio plateau, spawned by long ago volcanos, is a vast and interesting place with tons of trails and dirt roads to explore.   Wouldn't it be neat if someone offered a series of group hikes to explore the Caja?   

Rio Grande from Potrillo Canyon Trail overlook; Water Canyon is right foreground; unnamed draw (Thirty-One Draw?) across river

also from Potrillo Canyon Trail overlook; looking across Rio Grande and White Rock Canyon at Caja del Rio

Monday, March 12, 2012

Potrillo Canyon Trail: Great Condition

Flower patrol in Potrillo Canyon turned up nothing except finding the trail in great condition. This trail is a "bear" when it's muddy (or in hot weather).  I like how at the beginning, white and red signs direct "Trail Segment Closed - Use New Trail" to bypass eroded trenches.

I never before noticed this cave above the trail

rocks, glorious rocks or why I love the West!

Thursday, March 8, 2012

A Day of Changeable Weather

late morning, Pajarito Mountain towers above Los Alamos townsite; windy but with gorgeous clouds in a blue sky

Check out the Los Alamos Photography Club's 17th annual photography show in Mesa Public Library's Upstairs Gallery through March.  I thoroughly enjoyed all the photos - especially the cranes!

While taking in the show, I took the above photo through the Gallery's picture window, overlooking a metal roof.

That afternoon, I walked on the White Rock Canyon Rim Trail.  It was overcast and snow was beginning to fall on the Sangre de Cristo Mountains.   I got back to my car around 4 pm.  On the way home, tiny snowflakes spattered softly on the windshield.

Atalaya Search and Rescue recently held a practice rescue in White Rock Canyon to prepare for their Mountain Rescue Association recertification.  The article about it in this week's Santa Fe Reporter is definitely worth a read!

 afternoon, from White Rock Canyon Rim Trail, virga and snow clouds to the east, over Sangre de Cristos, coming our way

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Windy Day along Camp May Road

on a windy day
when the mountains
blow away
you may as well
be in Ohio

from burned area off Camp May Road, looking east where the Sangre de Cristo Mountains used to be

Monday, March 5, 2012

View of Pueblo Canyon Rim Trail from Los Alamos Mesa Trail

I walked the Los Alamos Mesa Trail today.  A portion of it still has snow patches - cold overnight temps have made snow persist on anything shaded and north-facing.

background, left to right, Quemazon or Rendija Mountain, with lots of "zebra" snow stripes;  Guaje Ridge-Mitchell Trail area,  with shorter Burnt Mountain beneath the three, center "zebra" stripes; Caballo Mountain, treed with bare meadow on top; a pinch of Tschicoma's snowy triangle

This is from the Los Alamos Mesa Trail, looking across Graduation Canyon at a corner of the Pueblo Canyon Rim Trail, below Rim Road.  How deceptively snow-free and dry the trail looks!  I wonder what conditions are like around the corner, along the mostly shaded, north-facing rim of Pueblo Canyon?

Friday, March 2, 2012

Fantastic Cloud Show Today

Friday walk in Santa Fe cancelled due to snow.  Instead, I walked downtown.

Guaje Ridge is the brown, treeless expanse, with the snowy Jemez Mountains beyond.  
Raven soars over all.  

looking north from near Mesa Public Library parking lot
The skies held a cloud fiesta today - well-formed like these, floating in an unbelievably blue sky - towering, dark gray walls, east and south - fog-like banks over the western mountains, occasionally sifting fine snow onto the slopes.  In the townsite, a snowflake or two flew by, backlit by bright sunlight.