Thursday, November 19, 2015

Skating on Mud - American Spring Road/FR181

Today I walked up lower American Spring Road/FR181 from the twin water tanks on West Jemez Road. It snowed last week and I wanted to check if the mud was drying. Conditions were good until the rutted mud bog just past the Perimeter Trail turnoff. My shoes sunk and slid sideways with each step. Several times I tried to escape to the side of the road but my feet just slid backward each attempt. There wasn't anything to do but slip and slide until I achieved drier ground. I drew arrows pointing to the road sides to alert me to avoid this going back! Right after, I actually saw another hiker! He was headed downhill so I warned him of mud ahead. He said he'd walk around it - wish I had! We concurred that even with mud, it was a wonderful day to be out - sunny, intensely blue skies and really rather warm!

The drainage on the eastern half of this forest road is so poor that when it rains or snows, the middle section deteriorates into a series of epic puddles stitched together by mud. After the mud bog, though, the road is flatter and I could always find a less muddy path. When I made it past the last giant puddle, rather than retrace squishy steps  back to the car, I decided to continue out to the upper parking area off NM4.  This meant that the faithful car would be downhill and a mile away! To be reunited, the choices were to walk down a very narrow, steep portion of the NM4 that locals call "the escarpment" or hitchhike! With a sheepish grin, I stuck out my thumb for a car but when it continued past, I started walking down! (Could it have been the grin!!)

Looking into upper Water Canyon and east toward the Sangre de Cristos Mountains.

American Spring Road/FR181 as it climbs out of upper Water Canyon. This part of the road, with its shoe-cleansing snow, was pleasant to walk on.

Looking east across my favorite meadow (that some call Sawmill Meadow). I was surprised that there is practically no snow in the meadow! Nice that there is snow in the Sangres!

On the way down "the escarpment", looking at the white and yellow paint on the trees from the September 2012 accident where a road striping paint truck went over the guardrail. It still looks fresh! Thankfully, the driver survived!!

Thursday, November 5, 2015

Valle Grande Breakdown

On this Wednesday, stopped at the Coyote Call pullout to try to capture the spotlights of sunlight breaking through the clouds over the Valle Grande, onto South Mountain (left) and tiny, little Cerro la Jara (right). Looked much prettier in person!

We hiked up Corral Canyon. Very muddy, trampled by cows and although the cows are finally gone, the trail is still full of their rain-softened manure mounds. Windy - we could hear loud cracks as trees fell in the forest. Several slippery stream crossings. The steam is much widened by erosion caused by Las Conchas wildfire runoff from burnt slopes. At Junction Meadow, we decided not to continue on the trail through the wind-shook burnt forest but instead went up to Peralta Road. On the walk back down to the car, saw this pretty view of Cerro la Jara through the burnt trees.

At a pullout overlooking the Valle Grande as snow, rain and fog alternately swept in. What a lovely place to have my car's battery die. I couldn't have asked for a prettier view as I waited an hour  for the AAA wrecker to come jump start my battery! They were a most welcome sight but so was this view!!

Friday, October 16, 2015

Don't Want to Stay Indoors

This week, driving back from yet another wonderful hike in the gorgeous autumn, listening to country songs of yearning on KRSN, I had my own wild yearnings as I passed one trailhead after another. I was tempted to stop at every one and take a second hike just to remain outside in the achingly beautiful fall we're having. At the same time, prudence gently warned that if I took two hikes everyday, I'd soon wear myself out. But...what a way to go!!

Thimbleberry leaves along Cañada Bonita Trail

Aspens in Cañada Bonita meadow

Friday, October 9, 2015

Foggy Fall Hike on Pajarito Mountain

"One misty, moisty morning, when cloudy was the weather..." Mother Goose Rhyme.

Last Monday morning, Pajarito Mountain's Zero Road East at hairpin turn which overlooks the townsite (Los Alamos). No town visible - just mounds of whipped-cream fog and clouds.

Camp May Road below. Beyond, fog rising up out of Los Alamos Canyon.

Townsight lift at Pajarito Mountain Ski Area.

Caballo Mountain (meadow), left and Quemazon/Rendija Mountain (two peaks), right. A touch of fall colors the ski hill.

Monday, September 21, 2015

Short Jaunt on VC09 Pipeline Road into Valles de los Posos

This is VC09 Pipeline Road which goes downhill from Guaje Canyon Trail 282 into the Valle de los Posos. I was floored to see the once locked Valles Caldera boundary gate open and a sign allowing (dare I say, welcoming!) hikers, bicyclists and horseback riders! The Boundary Line sign reads: United States Department of the Interior, National Park Service.
Cerro Rubio from Valle de los Posos. There were lots of cattle, not pictured, which behaved like they had never seen a human. We three were serenaded by loud bellowing as the cattle, and a fair number of calves, quickly moved further away from us. We were glad of the distance!

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Fiery Fireweed

On Tuesday, walked with women's group from Pajarito Ski Area to Rosie's Point on Guaje Canyon Trail 282. Saw 2 groups of bow hunters - both empty-handed - and a lone backpacker with his dog. The cooler weather was absolutely perfect! 

Fiery fireweed sets the landscape ablaze in the Las Conchas burn.

Monday, September 14, 2015

Taperleaf - Pericome Caudata - Along Nail Trail

A friend from the Nature Center wanted photos of a flowering plant, Taperleaf or Pericome Caudata. I promised that I would go back to the Nail Trail last Thursday to capture a portrait of said plant. Well, last Wednesday evening is when a jogger was attacked by a mother bear in Valle Canyon which is just a mile or so down West Jemez Road from where the plants grow alongside the Nail Trail.

After taking the photos, I continued up the Nail Trail, past the short, rocky section to where the trail opens up, flattens slightly and turns left. Right there is where I heard a moan - could have been a vehicle on West Jemez Road but it certainly sounded like an animal. I scanned the thick growth of mullein but didn't see anything. Just in case,  I picked up a thick stick and held it above my head to look tall and continued hiking uphill. Soon, I tossed that and picked up an even stouter stick which I clattered along the ground behind me to not surprise any bears. I honestly (perhaps, stupidly!) dragged that stick for a long time and I found a different way back down to my car.

Taperleaf - Pericome Caudata

Yeamans Bench

Last Tuesday, I walked up the west jeep road on Pajarito Mountain. When I got to the top, within sight of the holding pond, instead of continuing down the east jeep road, I strolled west over to  Rim Run to admire the view into the Valles Caldera. Then, because it remained a splendid day with no threat of thunderstorms and not a reason in the world to hurry, I retraced my steps to the Mother Lift where I took a trail in the woods to the Yeamans Bench.

On various visits to the Yeamans bench, I've failed to notice (or forgotten) the plaque on the front. It reads: Dedicated in loving memory of Steven Karl Yeamans October 8, 1959-January 11, 1999 by his friends and family.
The bench is situated on the south side of Pajarito Mountain and has sweeping views on which to contemplate.

Thursday, September 3, 2015

Tough As Nails - Not Me!

At Nail Trail, very nifty sign made of nails. Legend is that someone put roofing nails on the trail resulting in lots of flat bike tires and thus the name.

I say the trail got its name from this short, "tough as nails" section where you skip from rock to rock and hope to stay upright and unbroken!

Thursday, August 27, 2015

Hikes from Past Week

From Frey Trail, Bandelier National Monument - clouds building. They "produced" on the drive home.
Along Canyon Rim Trail, yellow prairie coneflowers.


Keddy Lake between Peralta Ridge and Cerro Pelado in Paliza Canyon. Who is it named after?
Playing Heidi on Pajarito Mountain - took jeep roads up west side and down east side from the ski lodge.

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Notes to Self on Burnt Mesa Eagle Traps

The Monday group hiked to the Burnt Mesa Eagle Traps. There were 8 of us - the group is growing! I recently conscripted a friend to pre-hike to the Eagle Traps with me and what a good idea that was! On the pre-hike, I kept prematurely looking for what I call the bonus deer trap, which is a package deal along with the 2 eagle traps. Today, though, I knew just where to find it! (This somewhat relates to a cartoon that a hiking member sent out recently - "What do we want? Better memory! When do we want it? Want what??") But I know that by the next time I hike to the eagle traps, I will forgot again where the bonus deer trap is.

So, here are notes to jog my future memory (assuming I still have one): The important part is that the bonus deer trap is almost 2 miles into the hike - you are very close to the eagle traps at that point. The deer trap is located on a shelf just below and south of the mesa ridge. At its eastern end, the shelf is easily accessed by a short downhill on what looks almost like a wide, rocky road. Be careful not to trip on the metal stake that marks the deer trap as an archeological feature. My hiking friends call it a deer trap since it's wide and shallow. After visiting the deer trap, continue a little east of south and uphill. You will see almost a path at times, created by past visitors to the eagle traps. At some junipers, go downhill, over rocks, to the pair of narrow, deep eagle traps perched at the edge of Frijoles Canyon.

Friday, March 6, 2015

And the Winner Is...

This morning, the senior hiking group unanimously voted for the Powerline Point Trail. I managed to squeeze in a mere little adventure: Instead of going straight uphill to our usual overlook of the powerlines crossing high above the Rio Grande, we turned off onto the Ancho Rapids Trail. I took them to a small mesa that looks down on that steep, rough trail as it continues to Ancho Rapids, far below on the Rio Grande. On the way back, one of the hikers pointed out what he thought was an indigo bunting flying away. I'm no birder but the feathers of that bird were such a bright blue - beautiful!
Jemez Mountains and Los Alamos from Powerline Point Mesa

Thursday, March 5, 2015

Tromping in Pueblo Canyon

Checked out the Sewer Plant Road, starting from the bottom of Main Hill Road (NM502). Intention: see if the first 2 miles have dried out enough after our recent snows to recommend it to a senior hiking group.

About a mile and a half in, I detoured to check out a side road known as the Pueblo Canyon Trail, although it's really just another dirt road. The group never takes this but always sticks to the main road, walking only as far as the Los Alamos Wastewater Treatment Facility and turning around.  I thought this could be a chance to do something different!

It was OK at first but my shoes soon collected thick mud in the shady parts so I eliminated it as an option - not their preference. Since my shoes were already muddy, I decided I may as well continue up canyon!  To do this, I'd have to cross the treated wastewater  effluent stream. In the past, this involved finding a place narrow enough to jump over or a rock to step on and then continuing on the Pueblo Canyon Trail. It's more complicated now because part of the effluent stream has jumped downhill from its bank,  eroding a steep-sided, muddy channel in the middle of the road; so now, you're leaping over onto very treacherous footing. Seems like a setup for a mud bath with bodily injury! I managed to find a place to step across further upstream, thanks to a thoughtfully placed rock, but then had to bushwhack through dry weeds and shrubs to get back to the road. Thoughts of ticks and rattlesnakes flashed through my mind but I dismissed them - too early in the season...I hope!

I continued up canyon just to where the Pueblo Canyon Trail joins the maintenance road and looped back there, following the thankfully dry road - past the wastewater treatment facility, past the composting station, past where I had first turned off onto the Pueblo Canyon Trail and back to my car. I went further than the group would but it was a fun - a mere little adventure, even the crossing of the effluent stream and tromping through mud. The Sewer Plant Road itself was fine - nice and dry! Yesterday, I walked the Powerline Point Trail and it is basically dried out as well - we'll see which the group picks!

Tent Rock Rooted in Pueblo Canyon