Category Archives: hiking

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: Trees

Alligator Juniper tree

Hard to tell in this photo, but this is a HUGE tree!

I love trees! Shouldn’t we all? I mean, come on, they give us oxygen to live! When I was a kid, I loved to climb up into their branches. I even swung out of a tree with a garden hose once and had to get xrayed for a possible collar-bone fracture. It turned out it was just a bad bruise. I never swung out of a tree again after that day! I have climbed up into their branches again and again though.

Twisted Alligator Juniper with Aaron in the photo for scale!

Twisted Alligator Juniper with Aaron in the photo for scale!

Aaron and I went for a hike in the Gila Wilderness this past Sunday. We went back to Rocky Canyon since we didn’t make it far on the trail the last time. Actually, last time, we took a split in the trail to see a cave. This time, we hiked the main Rocky Canyon trail and I must say, the name is a bit misleading! The trail only stays in the canyon for about a half mile before climbing several hundred, possibly a thousand, feet up and out of the canyon. The trail then follows the ridge top for quite some time. We ended our hike after about 2 1/2 miles, at Brannon Park.

Alligator Juniper. This side shows the twisted trunk better

Alligator Juniper. This side shows the twisted trunk better

While on the ridge top, we encountered a massive grove of Alligator Juniper trees. Alligator Junipers get their name from the texture of their bark. It looks like the skin of an alligator. These specific trees have always fascinated me. They are usually old and twisted. This grove was OLD. The trees were HUGE!

Not sure what type of tree this one is, but I love it!

Not sure what type of tree this one is, but I love it!

One in particular was very twisted. It looked as if a giant had spun it from the top, the trunk had several parts to it and they were all twisted around each other. Even the branches were twisted. I wonder what causes this? My guess is the wind, but if anyone knows for sure, let me know!

Charred remains of a Ponderosa Pine. That must have been a big fire!

Charred remains of a Ponderosa Pine. That must have been a big fire!

It was quite obvious when we left the grove of Juniper trees. It was almost like a line had been drawn and the Junipers were separated from another grove of Ponderosa Pines. Brannon Park is where the pine trees lived and the park was at a lower elevation from the ridge top where the Junipers were. We came into the park as we came down the hill.

Alligator Juniper

Alligator Juniper

In Brannon Park where we stopped for our lunch break, there was a muddy stream bed that was drying out. Just enough water remained for the dogs to get a drink. As we sat eating we noticed there was a flock of Bushtits congregating around the dwindling water supply. We heard the squawk of a hawk, but never saw it. We don’t get to see much wildlife when we hike, thanks to the dogs. I guess that could be a good or bad thing!

I am so grateful to now live in southern New Mexico! It was a gorgeous, warm, sunny day! Hearing about blizzards in other parts of the country, I’ll take a sunny end of November day anytime!

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.

 

Let’s get this ball rolling!

Aaron and I standing in front of my art at the Common Ground Gallery in Silver City. The art show has been extended for the whole month of October!

Aaron and I standing in front of my art at the Common Ground Gallery in Silver City. The art show has been extended for the whole month of October!

I had a great time in Colorado last week, though it was cold and rainy the entire time I was there. I am so glad I went to the Artist Mastermind Workshop, it was worth every penny! I am loaded up with goals and a new planner, ready to take on the Holiday season.

Me with my art at the gallery show in Silver City

Me with my art at the gallery show in Silver City

I have so much work to get done in the next couple of weeks. I’ll be putting together my 2019 calendar today. It will be available to purchase sometime next week. I have a new portfolio of paintings to release by October 25th. Everyone on my email list will get a preview of the new collection by the end of this week. I’m also giving away one of the originals from the collection to one lucky person on my email list. Sign up for my list on my website to be automatically entered.

So many cool rock formations in the Gila National forest!

So many cool rock formations in the Gila National forest!

I won’t be painting this week with all the business stuff I have to accomplish. I will share some of my favorite photos instead. I’ve been thinking about putting my favorite photographs on my website. I’ve always loved taking photos and there is so much material for excellent photos around here!

Our new truck in it's happy place, Gila National Forest!

Our new truck in it’s happy place, Gila National Forest!

I’m working at the house as much as possible this week. We are experiencing an early cold front in southern New Mexico and my studio is not yet insulated. Luckily, I have a wood burning stove, but it takes hours to warm up the whole space. At least the sun is out today, it’s supposed to be back in the 60s by the weekend.

One of my favorite wild flowers, purple Asters

One of my favorite wild flowers, purple Asters

I’m so grateful for everything in my life! If someone had told me I’d be here at the end of my forties, I would not have believed it. Thank you so very much for your interest in my art and my blog! I appreciate each and every one of you! Life is good. ❤️

Birth Month

“Intense Energy”, 20×20″ oil on canvas, part of my 2018 Fall portfolio, release date October 25th

October is the month of my birth. Last year I started celebrating the entire month, because, why not?! This birthday is the turning of the calendar to the last year of my 40s!!!!! I’m not ashamed to share my age, I’m proud to be where I am now. There were times in my life where I didn’t think I would make it this far. Just a couple of days ago my husband and I lost yet another friend barely 50. It makes me sad to think of friends who will never be 50. I’ve lost quite a few over the years. It never gets easier. I’m going to do what I can to honor those lives lost by living the rest of my life to it’s absolute fullest! I’m going to proudly share my real age. Why not? I’ve learned so much in my 49 years. I wouldn’t change a thing, but I also wouldn’t want to relive most of it. I’m grateful for it all. It made me the person I am today.

“Feminine Energy”, 12×12″ oil on canvas, original SOLD! Prints will be part of 2018 Fall portfolio

Aaron and I took the day off on Monday, after hearing about the passing of our friend, and took the truck out 4 wheeling and then went on a hike. It hit us both pretty hard. Needless to say, I’m a bit behind on my work this week, but who cares! Life is more important sometimes.

Friday I am taking a couple of paintings to Silver City for the Silver City Art Association’s Indy Artist show. The show runs Oct 6th-8th. I wish I could say I will be there with my art, but I’m leaving on Saturday to go to Denver, CO for an Artist mastermind conference. I’m really excited about it! I’ve wanted to take a workshop with Alyson Stanfield for about a decade. I finally decided this was the year. No more putting things off for this or that reason. No more excuses!

“Balanced”, 12×12″ oil on canvas, part of my 2018 Fall portfolio, release date Oct. 25th

I’ve finished all 23 paintings I was working on! Hoping to have them up on the website by October 25th(my birthday). I am giving one of these paintings away to one of my email subscribers on the 25th! I still haven’t decided which one. To enter, go to MY WEBSITE, sign up on my email list when the box pops up, and wait for the email announcing the winner! It’s that easy.

I will be out of the studio all next week, so I most likely won’t post a blog. I will be back to the blog the week of the 15th. Stay tuned!

Rain, Rain, go away!

12x12

12×12″ oil on canvas, finished yesterday, untitled for now

The title of this blog is a bit misleading! I’m really not complaining about all the rain we’ve received in southern New Mexico these past couple of months! That said, I just want to go hiking! I guess I will post another blog about the paintings I’ve been working on instead of the hiking blog I was planning on. Our doggies really want the rain to stop! They are dying to go out for a hike! Not to mention, my little Bernie Bern is very afraid of the thunder and lightning.

Our new truck! 2018 Nissan Frontier

Our new truck! 2018 Nissan Frontier

We just took delivery of our brand new 4×4 Nissan truck. Even more reason we are itching to get out for a hike, this time we are going deep into the woods! We can now go places even our Subaru AWD can’t reach. Stay tuned, once this uncharacteristic rainy season is over, we will be doing lots of exploring in the Gila.

One of 3, 12x12

12×12″ oil painting on canvas, that I finished yesterday.

Another issue with the rain? The supposed “new” 30 year roof on my studio has sprouted several leaks. One is right over my computer desk. This is the reason I’m leasing this building and not buying it, for now. It will help to know what’s really up with the building.

12x12

12×12″ oil painting on canvas, finished yesterday, untitled for now

I’ve been super busy in the studio this week. A whole lotta painting going on! I finished another 3 paintings since Tuesday’s blog. I now have 3 more to finish before I can buy some new LARGE canvases. I cannot wait to paint LARGE again! Another plus of the new truck? I can transport my large paintings! I have two stored at my mom’s house in Albuquerque because we couldn’t fit them in our car.

Though these paintings are finished, I haven’t found titles for them just yet. Leave a comment if you have any suggestions? Thanks!

Seven to go!

Finished yesterday, 12x12" oil on canvas, still untitled.

Finished yesterday, 12×12″ oil on canvas, still untitled.

I’ve been busy, busy, busy in the studio this week already! I’ve finished a couple more 12×12″ paintings and I’m currently working on another. That leaves 7 more to finish up from this Summer.

In the past, I’ve released paintings as soon as I finish them. This year that changes. From now on I will release my new work when I have a group of paintings done. They will be released as a collection. The next release will be my Fall 2018 Collection. I’m working towards an October release date, but I have to finish up the last 7 first! I’m not sure how many collection releases I will do in a year, I’m thinking a collection for every season, but it will depend on what I get painted!

Finished and untitled, 12x12

Finished and untitled, 12×12″ oil painting on canvas.

When I do release the new works, they will be released to my email list first. This gives my collectors and people who follow me the first chance to buy my new work. Then I will release them to the general public on my website. Go to my website and subscribe to be one of the first to get a chance to buy my new paintings!

My current work in progress, another 12x12

My current work in progress, another 12×12″ oil on canvas.

It’s been a few weeks since I’ve posted a “Hiking the Gila” blog. We have been pretty busy, and though we have gone on a couple of hikes, I have either forgotten the camera, or we’ve hiked a trail I already blogged about. This Thursday I’m planning on another hiking blog. Stay tuned!