Category Archives: snow in New Mexico

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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Open Studio Time!

My blog post was bumped yesterday for a Valentine’s Day trip to the Peak of the Sandia mountains. It was cold, cloudy and snowy up there, but it was beautiful! If you’ve never been to Albuquerque, the Sandias are the mountains directly to the east of the city. It takes about 30 minutes to drive up to the peak. One of the biggest reasons we love Albuquerque! Usually, you can see the city from the peak, but yesterday everything was covered with clouds.

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My Valentine! ❤

This week I’m getting ready for my monthly open studio event. Every month, I open my studio to the public, along with some of the other artists here at Chroma Studios. It’s a great time to get a behind the scenes look at the where I work and what I do everyday. You might even get a great deal on one of my paintings! I have prints available too.

Looking into my studio from the Reception area

The address is 1606 Central Ave SE, ste. 201, Albuquerque, NM. We occupy the whole upstairs of the building. It’s a really cool space with the high windows in the front. I have recently moved back into studio #1, the room I started in 9 years ago when we first opened Chroma Studios. It truly is the prime studio space. I sometimes feel guilty about taking it back, but I think after 8 years, it’s my turn again! 😉

Looking up at my studio window from the front sidewalk

Looking up at my studio window from the front sidewalk

The high windows are on either side of my studio, with one looking out onto Central Ave. and the other one looking into the reception area.

My studio windows

My studio windows

Just a little tease of the artwork I have available for sale! Come by the Open Studios this Saturday to see more! See you there! 🙂

The reception area outside my studio

The reception area outside my studio

 

 

Living in the Land of Enchantment: Salinas Pueblo Missions

Abo Mission ruins

Abo Mission ruins

One of my favorite places to visit in New Mexico is actually split into 3 separate sites. The Salinas Pueblo Missions has three missions, Quarai, Abo and Gran Quivira. They are all located around Mountainair, NM. The Abo ruins are 9 miles west, Quarai ruins are 8 miles north and the Gran Quivira ruins are 25 miles south of Mountainair. I love visiting these sites and imagining a time when they were bustling villages. I wonder how they lived and what they did everyday to survive in this desert environment.

Quarai Mission ruins

Quarai Mission ruins, the largest of the 3 missions

Because of their remote location, there is rarely more than a couple of people wandering the ruins of any location. The Abo Mission is most visited as it sits near the highway to Mountainair. The Abo and Quarai Missions were built using red sandstone and the Gran Quivira Mission and pueblo was built with white/grey limestone. The red sandstone is especially beautiful when covered in snow.

Gran Quivira Pueblo ruins

Gran Quivira Pueblo ruins

All three were built during the 17th century during Spanish occupation. Although all sites were built as Spanish Missions, they also included Kivas in their buildings which could have been a concession to the beliefs of the Native Americans who lived there alongside the Spanish settlers. Nobody knows why all three sites were abandoned by the 1670s. My personal guess is they may have been abandoned after the pueblo revolt in 1680, when the pueblo indians from all over New Mexico chased the Spanish settlers out of the area. They would not return for 12 years. I would imagine, like other abandoned sites, water could have had something to do with it as well.

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If you are looking for a day trip from Albuquerque, the Salinas ruins are a great choice. Make sure you fill up your gas tank and maybe even take a picnic lunch, as there isn’t much in the way of gas stations and food in the area. Mountainair does have a cafe or two, but gas can get expensive in those remote, rural areas of New Mexico. Pets are welcome, but must be kept on leash and cleaned up after.

Ruins of the Gran Quivira Mission

Ruins of the Gran Quivira Mission

All three sites are partially handicapped accessible and have handicap restrooms. All sites also have visitors centers with Rangers on hand to answer questions. All sites are open daily, 9 to 5 in winter months and 9-6 in the summer months. Of all the ruins I’ve personally visited across New Mexico, these three are most interesting to me. I highly recommend a visit next time you are in the area!

 

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

Living in the “Land of Enchantment”(NM): Carlsbad Caverns

Aaron and Paula standing at the entrance of Carlsbad Caverns

Aaron and I at the Cave entrance, about to descend 750 feet into the ground!

In 2014, Aaron and I took a trip down to visit Carlsbad Caverns in the SE part of the state. It’s a 4 1/2 hour drive down to Carlsbad, NM from Albuquerque. We had both been there several times as kids but never as adults.

Rather than stay in Carlsbad, we stopped off in Cloudcroft for the night. We love that little town in the middle of southern New Mexico at the top of the mountains. It’s name is very fitting as the clouds often get stuck at the 8,600′ elevation. Carlsbad is another 2 hour drive past, but it’s well worth the stop over. Especially in the summer, as the temps up in Cloudcroft are usually 20 degrees cooler than down in the scalding high desert sun!

Aaron’s family has a close connection to the small New Mexico town with a population of 674 (2010). His grandfather and uncles built a cabin there in the 1960s and the cabin has stayed in the family ever since. We have visited the cabin regularly for 20 years. We’ve always enjoyed hiking in the warm months and snow tubing in the winter. There are several nice campgrounds and a historic Lodge too. Even if you don’t spend the night, I highly recommend stopping in a Mad Jack’s BBQ for some of THE best BBQ you will ever have!

descending into the entrance of Carlsbad Caverns National Park

Descending into the main entrance of the cave. Though it looks scary, there is a paved, somewhat flat path leading into the cave.

The next day we headed out for Carlsbad. It’s funny when you go back to a place you haven’t been since you were a kid. You know how everything seems smaller? That didn’t happen at Carlsbad Caverns! I cannot imagine what I must have thought of this place as a little kid. The big room, is BIG!

cave formation in the big room at Carlsbad Caverns National Park

One of the many large scale formations in the big room.

It’s quite a downhill walk into the caverns, the good news is, there is an elevator at the bottom if you don’t feel ambitious enough to walk up and out. According to the website, the elevator is currently not working, but should be working again by May 31st.

We spent several hours walking around and exploring all the alien landscapes of the tremendous Caverns. I took well over 200 hundred photos, that I still haven’t edited! The few I’ve shared here are my favorite picks.

underground pool of water in Carlsbad Caverns

underground pool, there is water deep in the ground, even when the surface is a dry desert.

It’s impossible to get across the majesty of this place in words or photos. You simply have to see it for yourself. It’s like seeing the Grand Canyon in a photo, a camera flattens the image. I wish I could have captured it, but it’s nature’s beauty, it cannot be captured.

Giant stalagmites in the Big Room at Carlsbad Caverns National Park

Giant stalagmites in the Big room

It is well worth the trip into the desert of eastern New Mexico! Any time of the year is good too, as the temperature in the Caverns stays in the high 50s year round. Follow one of the links I’ve provided for more information on Carlsbad Caverns National Park, Carlsbad, NM and Cloudroft, NM.

One of the muddy textures in Carlsbad Caverns National Park

One of the muddy textures in the Caverns

 

 

 

Let it snow, let it snow, let it snow!!

It has already been quite the winter here in Albuquerque! On the 19th we had about 3 inches and then yesterday it started snowing in the late morning and didn’t stop until this morning, so we woke up to 10 inches this morning!!!

Aaron and I took a walk over to the park and then down to the river and got some great shots of the snow! The first shot is of two of my sons and their friend on the 19th during the first snow, the second shot was taken last night and the rest are from this morning. Happy New Year!

This is the most snow we’ve seen since we lived in Colorado, and I guess they are getting even more snow up there! According to the local news this is a record amount of snow for Albuquerque. Other parts of the city have more than a foot.

Update: It started snowing again, it may not stop until tomorrow morning. I talked with my mom who lives on the east side, closer to the mountains and she said they got around 18 inches!

Our front yard last night, before all the snow fell
Looking east on Glendale Rd.

Looking down at the park from the top of the hill

Rio Grande with ice!

Bosque trees in the snow