Category Archives: exercise

Hiking the Gila: Purgatory Chasm

Snow covered tree in the Gila National Forest

A couple of weeks ago it snowed here in the Gila National Forest. We had to go into town that day and while I was thinking, “we should take the long way home so we can see the snow”, Aaron was saying “do you want to take the long way home so we can check out the snow?” He’s really good at reading my mind. Not always, but sometimes we are just on the same wavelength!

I can’t resist a texture photo! Plus, I like the footprint!

Rather than coming home the regular way, we headed north on hwy 15 out of Silver City. It was so beautiful! Snow everywhere! We stopped a couple of times so I could snap pics of nature covered in the cold, white powder.

Looking back at the opening to the chasm canyon

By the time we got to the split with hwy 35 and started heading south in the Mimbres valley, the snow was gone and the sun was starting to peek out of the clouds. We decided then and there to stop at the Purgatory Chasm trail head. It’s a short trail very near Lake Roberts that we had never been on. I believe it’s a 1 mile loop. It’s one of those tourist type trails, short, level and gorgeous!

I’m also a sucker for a reflection pic! 😜

About a 1/2 mile in there is a split where the loop trail begins. We picked the left fork and shortly after we came to the chasm. The rock walls seem to pop up out of nowhere and suddenly, you are in a very narrow, tall canyon. The rocks on the canyon walls form hundreds of faces! It’s almost as if you can feel the eyes of the ancient ones staring at you and hear their whispering as you walk through.

And then there was sun…

We didn’t make it all the way around the loop trail. Somehow, we lost the trail and ended up looking down at the canyon. It was getting close to sundown, so we decided to play it safe and turned around to go back the way we came in.

The sun/shadows make the rocks POP! Can you see the faces?

That was about the time the sun came out and made the rocks really POP! So, even though it LOOKS like these photos were taken on three different days, it was all on the same day. You know what they say about New Mexico weather? Wait 5 minutes, it will change! Just for fun, I’m throwing in a photo I took at Emory Pass after the most recent snow on the mountain. I love the heart in the clouds!

This is the heart in the clouds, taken from the look out at Emory pass.

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Hiking the Gila: Rocky Canyon

Tree holding rock

I love the way it looks like this tree is holding up the rock! In reality, the rock is an overhang of the cave behind me and the tree seems to have grown around it.

It’s been too long since I’ve posted a hiking blog. That’s mainly because it’s been a while since we’ve been hiking on a new trail AND had the camera! I always say, that’s why I’m not a professional photographer, I ALWAYS forget the camera when I should have it. Last weekend we hiked for a couple of hours on Saturday and picked up a load of firewood on the way home. Let’s just say it was an exhausting day.

Rocky Canyon walls with grass growing on top of moss

Rocky Canyon walls with grass growing on top of moss

This time we drove a bit further into the Gila National Forest and hiked on the Gila Wilderness side of the forest. In case you are unfamiliar with the Gila, there are two Wilderness areas within the Gila NF. The Gila and the Aldo Leopold. There is one main road that takes you up through the middle of the Gila NF, this road is what splits the two wilderness areas. Main road is a bit deceiving as this is still a dirt forest road. In fact, it’s recommended that you take only a high clearance 4 wheel drive vehicle on FR 150. There are some hairy areas, but we have taken our Subaru on the road with no problem.

Mountain stream in Rocky Canyon

Mountain stream in Rocky Canyon

Rocky Canyon is the hairiest part of the road. There is a campground and a hiking trail that heads east from the campground. We had driven by the location before, but this was the first time we stopped for a look around and a hike. Every single other time we have driven through the canyon, it was bone dry. This time? Water literally everywhere! The canyon stream was running full force and there was water seeping from rocks as well as swampy areas on the trail. I cannot tell you when the last time was I saw this much water in the Gila! We have received a ton of rain this year, thank goodness!

Small ledge cave hidden in the rock canyon

This small ledge cave was hidden in the side of Rocky Canyon. It was just big enough for us to climb into, though it was filled with mouse droppings, so we jumped right out!

I probably took over 50 photos that day. There was so much green and so much water, the forest was gorgeous. There were rocks with fresh, green moss with grass growing from the moss. The bright green of the moss on the rocks was so cool.

Faces in the rocks

One thing I’ve noticed about the Canyons in the Gila, there are faces everywhere! This one even has a moss beard!

The Gila is located in the desert southwest part of New Mexico (again, for those who don’t know). It’s an oasis of trees, springs and wildlife. When it’s dry, it’s beautiful, but when it’s wet, it’s an amazing paradise! It’s one of the many reasons New Mexico is called the Land of Enchantment. It’s also one of my favorite places in the world. I’m so grateful to call it home!

Painted rocks

This rock wall looked painted, but it is actually the colors left from water streaming down the Canyon walls.

 

Hiking the Gila: Random Forest Roads

Meadow at the bottom of the canyon, looking towards the side canyon

Meadow at the bottom of the canyon, looking towards the side canyon

We’ve passed the hidden dirt road hundreds of times. If you aren’t paying close attention, you will miss it. There is a stretch of highway 152 where the road is high up above a scary cliff. I usually avoid looking down, mainly to keep from getting car sick. I’m not afraid of heights, but that particular cliff has quite a drop to it.

Now that my car sickness is getting under control, I have to move WITH the car on the turns to avoid it, I have looked over that edge to see the amazing, deep canyon below. My first thought was, I wonder what’s down there? My second thought was, HOW do we get down there? Our next few drives by, I looked and looked, trying to find a road to take us down for exploration. That’s when I saw it, just past the stretch of road on the cliff, the hidden entrance to the dirt forest road that leads into the canyon.

Swimming hole where we soaked our feet

Swimming hole where we soaked our feet

On Saturdays, we go down the hill to the local organic market in Mimbres. They have a small farmer’s market on Saturdays and we have started a weekly routine of stopping by the market for fruits, veggies and fresh eggs. The clerk who works the market on Saturdays is a friendly local guy and we’ve spoken with him at length about different hiking trails in the area. He told us about that hidden trail a couple of weeks ago.

Last week, we decided to check it out. The first time, it was later in the afternoon and quite hot out, we only hiked down the road about 10 minutes. The road is basically straight downhill. We turned around acknowledging that we would need to start earlier and have a full day to explore this trail.

Going into the side canyon, pools of water were everywhere! Wonderful that we've had so much rain!

Going into the side canyon, pools of water were everywhere! Wonderful that we’ve had so much rain!

Sunday we decided to take a longer hike to see where the steep hill lead. Another hot day, but thankfully, the Sun was in and out of the clouds. The further we went, the more the clouds covered the Sun. It was obvious that it had rained recently, as the trail was quite wet and even muddy in some places. I could not wait to get to the bottom to see where the water had flowed.

The hike down to the bottom of the canyon took about 30 minutes. We followed the trail as far as we could, back tracking several times after losing the trail. The stream bed at the bottom was not only running with water, but there were several large pools. We stopped to soak our feet and cool off in one of the larger pools of water. The water was so deep, we could have had a swim! If only I had brought the right shoes, I ended up cutting my foot on a rock because I didn’t want to get my brand new running shoes wet. I usually wear my “lake” shoes if I know there will be streams to cross.

Side canyon oasis

Aaron and the dogs in the side canyon oasis

We were told the trail went on to connect with another trail we’ve already hiked but, all we found were dead ends, so we decided to turn around and try again another day. On our way back, I noticed a side canyon I hadn’t seen on the way down. We decided to follow a vague path to this side canyon and found a wonderful rock and water oasis. We didn’t follow the canyon too far down, but saved it for another day. That is the joy of living here now, we can always go back for more another day! Not to mention getting to know the locals and finding the great, hidden spots in the Gila National Forest. So much to explore, so little time! Stay tuned, or subscribe to my blog, to read/see more about our adventures!

Until next time! :-)

Until next time! 🙂

 

Back to work!

Window in to the past, Gila cliff dwellings

Window in to the past, Gila cliff dwellings

Summer break is officially over now. Aaron went back to work yesterday. We had company visiting, so I’m starting back today. I haven’t painted on canvas since June, but I did paint the house! We spent Aaron’s Summer break working on the house and exploring our new home. We hiked many miles and found some really beautiful areas. Mountain streams, lava flows, old dead trees, and an abundance of birds and wildlife. I probably took a couple hundred photos! We are settled in now and enjoying our new home to it’s fullest. I’m grateful to be living the dream!

Dusty hiking

Dusty hiking in Spring Canyon

I keep going back and forth about keeping my studio here at home or finding a place in town (Silver City) to rent. After searching town and making a few calls, it seems there isn’t much available and what is available is a bit overpriced. For now, I’ve decided to keep my studio at home.

On the scaffolding, painting the back side of the house

On the scaffolding, painting the back side of the house

With all the hiking trails in the area, I’ve decided to start blogging about our hikes on a regular basis. My goal is to blog 2 times per week. One will be about hiking the Gila and the other will be my art update for the week. Fingers crossed I can accomplish this goal! Our internet connection is spotty out here, so it will depend on how reliable it is on the days I blog.

View from atop the Black Range Crest Trail

View from atop the Black Range Crest Trail, this trail goes through a forest fire area from the Silver fire in 2013

Hiking is a walking meditation for me. There is nothing more calming or inspiring. My footsteps and breathing create a rhythm that takes me to another plane of perception. The trick is keeping that perception after the hike is over. Most of the time, it leaves as soon as I hop back in the car after a hike. My wish is to get to a point where I can keep that feeling while sitting here in my studio.

On the trail

On the trail

During our hikes I have been thinking a lot about writing. Words flow to me during my hiking meditations and I would love to get this flow down into words. That is what I’m working on. As a visual artist, words can be difficult. Putting what I see into words is not an easy task.

Another view from the Black Range Crest Trail

Another view from the Black Range Crest Trail

That said, the urge to write is becoming stronger than my aversion to writing.
I don’t know that what I have to write/say is important to the world in general, but it’s important to me and perhaps someone else will get something from it too.

View from the CDT trail

View from the CDT trail

Gila Cliff Dwellings

Aaron and I at the entrance of the cliff dwellings

Aaron and I at the entrance of the cliff dwellings

I may have blogged about this before, but it must have been years ago! That’s how long it’s been since Aaron and I visited. I love being back in southwestern New Mexico. It’s a homecoming of sorts. Different town this time around. When I was a kid growing up in Las Cruces, we spent countless weekends and Summers camping, hiking and exploring the Gila National Forest.

Catching the first glimpse of the cave from the trail below

Catching the first glimpse of the cave from the trail below

We brought visiting family and friends here to see the beauty of this vast wilderness. The Gila Cliff Dwellings is one of the most visited spots in the Gila. The other being the Catwalk trail near Glenwood.

The cliff face near the dwellings

The cliff face near the dwellings

When we go hiking with our dogs, we usually stick to trails without other people around. This past Sunday, we left the dogs at home. Mainly because dogs aren’t allowed at the Cliff Dwellings. They do have kennels for the dogs though, just in case!

One of the ancient rock walls of the cliff dwellings with it's distinctive window shape

One of the ancient rock walls of the cliff dwellings with it’s distinctive window shape

The road out to the site is a twisting, turning mountain road with no center line. Though it’s paved, it is definitely a back country road!

The hiking trail up to the cliff dwellings crosses over a small stream several times before zig zagging up the hillside to the ruins. The heat of the sun gives way to the cool of the cave as you climb the wooden ladder into the dwellings that haven’t been occupied in close to a thousand years.

Looking out into the canyon from within the cliff dwellings

Looking out into the canyon from within the cliff dwellings

It’s easy to see why the ancient ones chose this place, up high on a cliff overlooking a mountain spring. A view of the canyon, a source of water, a shelter from the weather.

Looking back as we head down the exit path.

Looking back as we head down the exit path.

If you ever find yourself in Silver City, New Mexico, I highly recommend you take the drive up to the Gila Cliff Dwellings. You won’t be sorry you did!

Living in the Land of Enchantment: Nature is the Best Medicine

Subaru parked at the trail head

Parked at the trail head

I’ve been feeling down lately. Trying to stay positive and happy, but that doesn’t always happen. My personal life is good, but the world is losing it’s collective minds! So much fear and hate in the world, it can be hard to stay in the light.

Hiking selfie! :)

Hiking selfie! 🙂

I know of no better healing/grounding than going out in nature! Our dogs agree 100%. Yesterday started as a “morning hike” day. We had planned to take our stir crazy dogs (it’s been over a week since our last hike) for a short hike so we could get back to our studios in the afternoon.

Aspens in their fall colors

Aspens in their fall colors

Some days end up very differently than we plan. We spent a couple of hours looking for a trail head that leads to the Continental Divide Trail. We never found the trail head and so we ended up backtracking to another area we’ve been to before. We did find a trail that we had never been on before (Penas Negras Trail) in the San Pedro Wilderness.

Old road trail; Penas Negras Trail

Old road trail; Penas Negras Trail

It started out very steep, but after about 20 minutes the trail leveled off and took us through a gorgeous ridge top. The trail was more like an old road that had grown over, probably for decades. We timed our visit perfectly as the Aspen trees are beautiful in their Autumn colors!

More colorful Aspens!

More colorful Aspens!

The ground was littered with beautiful quartz stones, sparkling in the sunlight. Needless to say, I LOVE the mountains!

Super tall Aspens, still wearing green!

Super tall Aspens, still wearing green!

Living in the “Land of Enchantment”

Clouds, Trees and meadow in the San Pedro Wilderness Area

Before the snow, one of the many beautiful meadows in the San Pedro Wilderness Area

Ah, Spring in New Mexico! So many varieties of weather available to chose from! Rain, wind, sun, snow! If you’ve never been to New Mexico, you may not realize that our state is more than JUST a desert! We have mountains and meadows, rivers and lakes, snow topped tundras and then there are the deserts. There is a reason the state motto is “The Land of Enchantment”.

hiking trail covered in logs in the San Pedro Wilderness Area

The trail is covered with logs to give you some traction when the water is flowing and/or standing

There is currently a storm front moving through the state that has dumped snow in the northern part of the state while down south, they are getting highs in the 70s and 80s! New Mexico is a VERY diverse state. Diverse in our landscapes, diverse in our people. Is it any wonder why I love it here!?

tall Aspen tree in the San Pedro Wilderness Area

There are Aspen groves alongside Evergreen trees, very TALL trees!

Watching the weather report this morning, reminded me of a hike Aaron and I took a few years back. It was our anniversary, June 10th, and we decided it was time to head up to one of our favorite hiking spots. It is a summer only trail, as there is usually plenty of snow in the winter. Unless, of course, you have snow shoes! I’ve never been much of a snow lover myself, but NM also has some great skiing areas. The San Pedro Wilderness area is part of the Santa Fe National Forest. A bit west of the Jemez mountains, just east of Cuba, NM and about a 1 1/2 hour drive from Albuquerque. It is almost always wet up there, but that year? We got snowed on! It wasn’t a heavy snow, but wet, and it stuck pretty well to the green grass.

Lake Gregario in the San Pedro Wilderness Area

One side of Lake Gregario, such a beautiful sight!

Let’s just say we didn’t make it very far that day. We were not prepared for snow and so we turned around and headed back down the mountain, after we sat and enjoyed our lunch in the falling snow! San Pedro Wilderness is a wonderful place! The trees are tall and there is a lake for fishing as well. The trail we usually hike is called the “Las Vacas” trail, which is Spanish for “the cows”. You have to be careful not to step where the cows have been, it can be pretty messy! At least there is a stream to clean off your shoes, just in case!

Osa sneaking up on ducks at the lake in the San Pedro Wilderness Area

Osa THINKS she is sneaking up on the ducks, but they aren’t fooled!

Our dog, Osa, LOVES this wilderness! So many smells and places to explore. One of the best things about this trail is there are rarely any people on it past the lake which is about 3/4 mile up from the trail head. Osa loves this because she gets to run free without her leash!

Snow at the top of the mountains in the San Pedro Wilderness Area of New Mexico

And then there was SNOW! Yes! Snow in June in New Mexico

This forest is quite literally a rain forest. Ferns grow here and boy, the bugs are pretty bad! We have hiked to the top of the trail, the ridge that follows the tops of the mountains, and it almost always has at least an inch of standing water. It’s too bad we can’t transfer that moisture to other parts of the state at times. It’s green and lush and the meadows are gorgeous! Wildflowers abound in the late Spring and early Summer. It’s a great place for camping, just make sure you take your rain gear and a waterproof tent!

Snow on the ground in the San Pedro Wilderness Area

And MORE snow!

Last Summer, we took a backpacking trip on this trail and ended up coming home after one night because our brand new backpacking tent leaked like a sieve and we were drenched! Even so, we have several happy memories of the place. Looking forward to the day when we can head back up there, I guess it will have to wait a bit longer for the snow to melt all the way. 😉

The Rio de las Vacas or River of the Cows in the San Pedro Wilderness Area

The Rio de las Vacas or River of the Cows