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!!