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