Tag Archives: New Mexico landscape

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!

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!

Step two, Facebook Detox

My religion is nature. That’s what arouses those feelings of wonder and mysticism and gratitude in me.
~Oliver Sacks

The logical next step in my quest for ending my addiction to Facebook is detox. I need to get it completely OUT of my system. The best way I know of to stay off the internet and specifically, Facebook, is to get away from any and all wifi networks or modems. This is not an easy thing to do! Thankfully I live in a state with LOTS of empty space and very little LTE signal! My favorite way to get grounded and get away from it all is to go camping!

aaronpaulabernie

Aaron and I with little Bernie while hiking

We headed out Monday around noon and drove a couple hours south and west of Albuquerque to a lovely secluded campsite in the Cibola National Forest. There was a slight signal (3G), but it wasn’t enough to get online. Trust me, I TRIED! (I told you I am addicted!) Just enough signal to get a text message, but not quite enough for facebook, thank goodness!

thewholegang

The whole gang on the hiking trail, Left to right, my brother, Travis, his wife, Charlene, me and Aaron with little Bernie down on the trail

I won’t lie to you and say I haven’t been on facebook since our return to civilization, but  once you break that cycle of obsession, it’s much easier to stay off.

There is nothing better for the soul than a trip to the wilderness and a nice 6 mile hike to detox all of that nasty technology out of your system. Yummy ribs cooked over a campfire, time with loved ones, talking face to face, roasting a few marshmallows, sleeping on the ground. It will cure whatever ails you! Now, if I can keep going with my recovery and STAY off Facebook! I think I can, I think I can! 😉

viewshot

That VIEW was spectacular!

The Experiment is Over

photo of a New Mexico mountain meadow

New Mexico mountain meadow, who says NM isn’t green?!

We spent 13 months without a car. It was a great experiment! I really enjoyed riding our city buses and walking everywhere. There were only two things we knew we would miss about not having a car, 1. day trips to the mountains to go hiking and, 2. having a way to haul things. Number 2 was taken care of by the generosity of our parents letting us borrow their cars once or twice a month. I believe we were able to get a hike in only 2 or 3 times during the year, and that was what made us finally break down and buy our truck. We still plan to use the public transit and walk as much as possible, but it sure is nice to be able to hop in our truck and take a trip to the mountains.

Sun shining through the Aspens

Sun through the Aspens

We bought our “new” truck last week and spent the next few days fixing up a few things on it so we could go out on Tuesday to HIKE! I’m so happy that we did! We bought a 1987 Ford Bronco II, 4×4. On Tuesday, we took off north of Albuquerque to the San Pedro wilderness in the Santa Fe National Forest. We hiked a portion of the Continental Divide Trail, something we have been fantasizing about for months as we saved to buy our truck. The truck gets the same gas mileage as our old van, but the bonus is, we can go much further into the wilderness with 4 wheel drive!

photo of large aspen grove

We hiked at least a mile through a large Aspen grove, some of the trees were at least 80 years old, judging by the carvings on them from 1934!

On the way up the mountain, I was looking out at the forest and enjoying the scenery, trying not to pay much attention to the CRAZY 4 wheel drive road we were on, high up in the mountains with no guardrails! Luckily, my husband has lots of experience driving those types of roads. Still, it was better if I didn’t look ahead of us! Anyway, while I was watching the forest roll by, I could SWEAR I saw what could have possibly been a BIGFOOT! I so wish I would have had my camera out! What I saw, clear as day, was an upright, tall creature, yellowish brown colored, run through the trees to our right. By the time I asked my husband if he saw what I saw, it was gone. We were DEEP in the forest, on a 4 wheel drive road that had obviously not been traveled in a LONG time. We didn’t run into any people on our hike or anywhere on the 3 separate forest roads we drove on that day. If you have never been to the northern New Mexico wilderness, this is REMOTE country. FREAKED me out! To say the least!

photo of our pooped puppies

Juju and Raven at the end of the hike, Raven was pooped, but Osa was nowhere to be seen, she was having way too much fun chasing squirrels!

By the time we got to the trail head though, I had forgotten all about it. We were going HIKING! The dogs were THRILLED! We ended up going on a 4 hour hike through some of the most beautiful forests I have seen yet. There was at least a mile long Aspen grove with trees that had been carved by people (I hate it when people do that!) as far back as 1934! I love imagining the first people who walked through the forest, perhaps they marked the trees so they could find their way back the way they came.

photo of aaron and his truck

Aaron and his new “baby”, he even got to splash through some mud!

My husband was in heaven, driving his new 4×4 that switched very smoothly into 4 wheel drive and then back out again once we got off the mountain. What a wonderful day! Just the first of many to come!

photo of me with Juju at the end of the hike

Me with Juju at the end of the hike! I was standing on a tree stump, but Aaron cut off my feet in the photo!

This week’s art auction, etc.

original pencil acrylic painting on canvas board daily journal painting

"Believe in Yourself", 8 x 8" pencil and acrylic on canvas board

This week’s art auction is for a painting I did yesterday. Usually, I auction off older pieces, but this week I decided to put this one up. It’s a new idea that I was inspired to create and I’m excited about how it turned out. Albuquerque artist, Rachel Harris, inspired me after seeing one of her paintings in a local art show last Friday. I love the way she used pencil drawings in the under layer, then painted over, leaving the pencil showing through. I once, long, long ago made landscape paintings with pencil and watercolor and I have always loved the way pencil and color look together. Below is an example of one of my old landscapes.

original watercolor pencil painting landscape

"La Cueva", 18 x 24" watercolor and pencil, 1996

As a matter of fact, I still have prints of this painting available that I don’t think I’ve listed anywhere! The rocks are all done in pencil with the top and bottom in watercolor. I did a whole series of this style of paintings.

ETC., I am feeling much better after venting my feelings here on the blog yesterday. I have made a vow to myself to be more real and stop putting my persona out as an ONLY a happy go lucky, everything’s always perfect person. I mean, for the most part, I AM that person, but like everyone, I have my dark side too. I have decided that it’s time to take off my mask and be real, no matter how it may appear to people on the outside. This is ME, warts and all! 🙂