Tuesday, March 8, 2016

First Time This Year on American Spring Road

I was going to title this "The Good, the Bad and the Utterly Ridiculous"...

This small, fallen ponderosa is last in line downhill from a row of ponderosas (and even a fir!) that sprouted along the road after the 2000 Cerro Grande fire.  It appears the shallow-rooted tree was undermined by the drainage ditch the forest service dug several years ago. This was to stem erosion caused by flooding after the 2011 Las Conchas wildfire. (BTW, officially, American Spring Road is Forest Road 181.)

The above-mentioned row of post-Cerro Grande conifers. I always look forward to seeing their progress toward becoming tall ponderosas like those in the background which didn't burn!

The first 2 miles (as far as I walked) of American Spring Road are dried out. This remnant snowfield is at the side of the road going into Water Canyon. Only a taste of winter remains. In the newly melted out meadows that I saw, the grass is still matted down from winter's heavy snow pack. About a month ago, I pulled into the forest road's unplowed parking area, just off NM4, and saw the road was still in deep snow cover, marred by tire track ruts. I didn't attempt to walk the road then. A lot of melting has occurred since - maybe too much, too fast.
Quick - someone call a plumber!! Looks like Armstead Spring has sprung a leak!! Pour, Armstead, down Water Canyon!! All the moisture we received this winter is the "Good" in my discarded title (see top of post)! No wildflowers yet but seeing the wild rose's red canes makes me long for the blooms of springtime. I'll even be happy this year to see the pink flowers of that thorny hikers's nemesis, New Mexico locust!
This would qualify as the "Ugly". This peaceful and pretty meadow, about 2 miles in from NM4, is used often as a mud proving grounds. Poor neglected, disrespected meadow!

Yes, always bring your "Lovey" with you when you shoot in the forest! This would qualify as the "Utterly Ridiculous"! This is the same meadow above and when it's not a mud proving grounds, it doubles as a shooting gallery!

White Rock Canyon from Blue Dot Trail

Yesterday, the Monday group, five of us, went down the Red Dot, then along the River Trail and up the Blue Dot. I go down the Red Dot Trail in slow motion. I feel like I'm descending a steep, dry waterfall. In some places, I use the "seat of the pants" method to negotiate the boulders.

I was surprised there aren't more wildflowers blooming yet. Only saw a few verbena and some spindly golden smoke. Maybe that was because my attention was on surviving the "trip" down the rocky trail! Once in White Rock Canyon, I absolutely love the River Trail. It's a whole different world down there with all the beautiful basalt boulders, the petroglyphs, the Rio Grande flowing and the splendid Pajarito Springs forever tumbling into its pool.

Going up the Blue Dot Trail, not too bad. Lots of switchbacks wind up the side of White Rock Canyon and before you know it, you're crawling out at the Blue Dot trailhead and are much pleased with yourself!

On the way up the Blue Dot Trail, I took lots of "enjoy the scenery" breaks. Rio Grande in midground, Buckman Mesa/Otowi Peak on left, Caja del Rio plateau on right and Sangre de Cristos in far background.