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!
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
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!
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!
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.
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!
Posted in artists, blogging, creativity, Gila National Forest, gratitude, healing, heart, hiking, hiking the Gila, inspiration, Living in the Land of Enchantment, love, mountains, my story, New Mexico, New Mexico true, Paula Manning-Lewis, peace, photo, photography, photos
Tagged Alligator Juniper, artist's life, artists, blogging, creativity, fire, Gila National Forest, Gila wilderness, gratitude, healing, heart, hiking, hiking the Gila, inspiration, life, lifestyle, Living in the Land of Enchantment, love, mountains, my story, New Mexico, New Mexico landscape, New Mexico true, Paula Manning-Lewis, peace, photo, photography, photos, Ponderosa Pine, Rocky Canyon, trees, wilderness, writing
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
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
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!
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.
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!
This rock wall looked painted, but it is actually the colors left from water streaming down the Canyon walls.
Posted in abstract, art story, artists, blogging, creativity, exercise, Gila National Forest, goals, gratitude, healing, health care, heart, hiking, hiking the Gila, inspiration, Living in the Land of Enchantment, love, mountains, my story, New Mexico, New Mexico true, Paula Manning-Lewis, photo, photography, photos, random things about me, Silver City, Traveling New Mexico
Tagged abstract, Aldo Leopold, art, art story, artist's life, artists, blogging, canyons, creativity, exercise, Gila National Forest, Gila wilderness, goals, gratitude, healing, health, health care, heart, hiking, hiking the Gila, hiking trails, inspiration, life, lifestyle, Living in the Land of Enchantment, love, mountain stream, mountains, my story, National Parks, nature, nature photography, New Mexico, New Mexico true, Paula Manning-Lewis, photo, photography, photos, random things about me, rocks, Rocky Canyon, silver city, southwestern New Mexico, travel, Traveling New Mexico, trees, wilderness, writing