Monday, February 29, 2016

Rito de los Frijoles Rock Jumble

Today, in Bandelier National Monument just off the Falls Trail: Rito de los Frijoles tumbling over a rock jumble. On the hike: Saw mountain lover growing on shady part of trail. Near Upper Falls, the  Mormon tea looks very robust and bright green. At the Upper Falls overlook, a red-tailed hawk graced us with a flyover high above Frijoles Canyon. The sun shone bright through its red tail feathers. Trail is in good condition.

Virga Over the Dome from Burnt Mesa Trail

Yesterday, looking south from Burnt Mesa Trail at San Miguel Mountains: Boundary Peak on left (sharp) and St. Peter's Dome on right. Burnt Mesa Trail is almost completely dried out. Sky trying to do something - looks like virga over the Dome. Saw several waves of cranes heading north and a herd of nine doe deer watching me while I watched them! Impressed by the work someone has done to remove stout fallen trees off the trail. Amazed by the many mounds where ancestral puebloans dwelt.

Saturday, February 27, 2016

Dome Road Winter Walk

Walked on Dome Road Thursday - only went as far as the intersection of Dome Road and FR36, just a little past Graduation Flats. Someone had driven in on snow-covered Dome Road at that turnoff. Other times I've been there this winter, the snow was too deep for anyone to have driven on and the only tracks were from cross country skiers. It was so tempting to just turn onto Dome Road and walk in the vehicle tracks and I did but only for the merest distance. I knew I had to save my energy, in short supply that day, for the walk back. Besides, when would I have wanted to turn back? Wish I could have walked the whole road and then called for a ride back!

On Dome Road, FR289, in Bandelier National Monument, not too far from NM4, looking back at contrails. Saw lots of signs that elk have been running around in the forest and back and forth across the road but saw not a single one. Before this week's Tuesday, February 23, snowfall, the road was almost completely dried out but after the infusion of new snow, there are long strips of snow on the sides and in the middle. The road is plowed for access to private property. The gate at NM4 is locked until April 15.

Is it perverse to consider the burnt woods beautiful? Maybe so but I do like their colors and their starkness. This is on the Scooter Peak side of the road. The burnt trees are the aftermath of the 2011 Las Conchas wildfire. This June, it will be 5 years post-fire. A lot of these dead and standing trees will surely topple this year. Even among the starkness, though, there is always new growth of young aspens.

This is on the side of the road where Bandelier's Upper Frijoles long ski trail is. I never noticed this stock pond before. This winter's snowfall has really filled it up.

Friday, February 19, 2016

Upper Falls Yesterday

I haven't walked the Falls Trail in Bandelier National Monument since the construction detour instituted last year and, really, not much since the lower part of the trail was destroyed after the August  2011 Las Conchas flooding. But yesterday, along with a friend, I walked the trail once again.

The Falls Trail now dead ends at Upper Falls. Look at the photos of the August 2011 Las Conchas flood damage to the trail and you'll understand why - the portion of the trail that went just past the Lower Falls was undercut and washed away. I remember that section as very steep and slippery (with somewhat slaty-looking rock) even before the cataclysmic trail destruction.

Yesterday, the trail was mostly ice free and the Rito de los Frijoles flowed in pretty riffles and runs down canyon. The tall, red-trunked ponderosas were lovely to see. At Upper Falls, I sat enjoying the cascade of water. It seemed to have more water than I remembered.

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