Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Lincoln National Forest: Shattuck Cemetery Hike

Hiking in Snow
I was really wanting to get out of the house today for a little adventure. Noelle was not feeling well and so this would be a solo adventure. I had recently read about an old, remote cemetery in the Lincoln National Forest outside of Queen and figured I would go and see if I could find it. I hit the road and got some gas in town before heading up Dark Canyon and into the Guadalupe Mountains. Soon there were patches of snow on the road. The snow and ice became more frequent when I turned onto New Mexico highway 137. By the time I got to the National Forest boundary the road was quite icy.

Hooper Canyon
I made my way through Queen and then turned onto Forest Highway 540. I followed the sometimes snowy, sometimes muddy road to Klondike Gap and then turned onto a rougher, steeper, muddier road. Soon I found myself at the intersection with the rough Forest Road 307 where I parked and then hit walked along the road. It was a bit slow going as there was more snow than I had anticipated. Where there wasn't snow there was plenty of mud. Hooper Canyon, which the road passes through is very interesting. There was a steep limestone wall there and  I scoured it looking for signs of pictographs. I found some graffiti and some very faded rock art.
Up-canyon there was an interesting rock shelter.
Looking out of Shelter

There were a lot of swallow nests attached to the ceiling of the shelter,
Swallow Nests
and a lot of dried animal dung cemented to the floor of the shelter. I suppose it was used as a corral at some time. There were also a few very faded pictographs inside the shelter.

Faded Ceiling Pictograph
After exploring for a bit I moved on. Soon I come to an unexpected for in the road. My map showed only one road. Had there not been snow on the ground I suppose it would have been easy to tell which road to follow, but I was unsure so I followed the road on the right. It took me up another canyon and to an interesting old rock wall.

Old Wall
Soon the road faded away with no trace and so I retraced my steps to the junction.

Three Graves
Once back at the fork, I followed the road to the left and soon found another road heading up a slope to my planned destination the Shattuck Cemetery. Inside the cemetery fence were buried Mariah H Lyon,
Mariah Lyon Grave
her sister Julia Shattuck,
Julia Shattuck Grave
And Julia's husband J.S. Shattuck.
Captain Shattuck grave
John Shattuck lived in California for some years, and when the Civil War broke out, left that state and going to Texas, became a Confederate soldier as a captain of calvary. John remained in Texas after the war, and subsequently came to New Mexico. Both Capt. John and his wife, Julia, taught school, and later Capt. John was elected the first County Superintendent of Schools for Eddy County after it was created out of Lincoln County 1890 in New Mexico. In the year of 1884  Capt Shattuck brought his family to settle near Dark Canyon, Eddy County, New Mexico

Monday, December 26, 2011

Hiking the Snowy Chihuahuan Desert

Desert Snow

Wanted to get out for a little hiking action today, but I was afraid that the roads leading into the mountains would still be treacherous and snow covered. As a result, Noelle, Parker and I stayed close to home and headed back to La Cueva Trails.
Trail Sign

We hiked a loop along a different section than we had hiked previously. For most of the loop we made first tracks in the snow. We saw some cows, some mule deer, and some birds. We also found this concrete foundation which left us wondering about the past.

By the time our hike was over quite a bit of snow had melted.
Dirt Trail in Snow

Hopefully this means we'll be able to get up into the Guadalupes tomorrow!

Saturday, December 24, 2011

White Christmas!

House in Snow

Believe it or not, it's going to be a white Christmas here in Carlsbad, New Mexico! About 7 inches of snow is decorating our house and the surrounding desert plants.
Snowy Car

Snowy Parker

Monday, December 19, 2011

Christmas on the Pecos


Tonight Noelle and I went out with some of our friends from the park to Christmas on the Pecos. It's a Carlsbad Christmas tradition for the last 20 years and we enjoyed the festive lights. It was cold out there though!
Eric with his Ticket for the Noelle

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Lincoln National Forest: Horse Canyon Hike

I woke up this morning. Ate some breakfast and walked Parker, before hitting the road in a dense fog. It had been a while since I had hit the trails and I desperately wanted to go for a hike. I drove up towards Queen, broke through the fog and parked at Red Lake ( which is neither red nor a lake). From there I hiked along the rough forest road down into Turkey Canyon.

From Turkey Canyon I made my way up onto a ridge before dropping down into yet another canyon. The vegetation was typical of the higher elevations of the Guadalupe Mountains with lots of agaves and pinyon pines.

The canyon bottoms were a bit different than those you would normally see in the Guads. They were of smooth, pavement-like limestone. In some areas the rock had been eroded to water-filled tinajas.
As I explored some of the canyon walls near water sources I began to find some rock art in the form of red pictographs.
Man Horse and Sun
I followed some forest roads to a trail marked on the map as T208. This trail led me up a steep slope before I crested a high ridge. Then I made my way back down through Horse Canyon. The trail was difficult to follow. It was marked mostly with cairns and flagging tape attached to trees along the way. Occasionally, the trail was marked with metal signs attached to tree trunks.
Hiking Trail Sign
Horse Canyon exhibited a lot of the smooth limestone that had been carved by water. There was lots of iron staining to be seen in the rock as well.
Iron Stained Rock

Eventually I made my way to the intersection of Horse Canyon with another unnamed canyon. Here I found a rock shelter with lots of interesting pictographs inside.
Eric and Rock Art

Line Pictographs

Abstract Pictographs
After I left the shelter I could see the fog starting to close in. The temperature dropped and I started to get cold.
Distant Fog
I started to worry about the fog and the impending darkness. I would have to hustle to get back to my car before it was pitch black.
Getting Worried
Luckily, I made it back to the car just in time. If I had taken even 15 minutes longer I would have had a difficult time finding my car. It was a foggy drive out of the mountains, but I had a great day hiking in the Guadalupes!

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Sledding, Skiing, and Christmas Treeing

After yesterday's snow, Noelle and I were excited to head up to the mountains and try some cross country skiing. We set the alarm for 6am this morning and had coffee brewing for an early trip up to Cloudcroft. I checked the New Mexico Department of Transportation's highway conditions website and found US 82 to be open but icy and snow-packed near Mayhill. The trip was a go!

Right from the start we hit icy roads and the driving was slow from Carlsbad to Artesia. Once on highway 82 the going got even slower. We were going 20 under the speed limit all the way to Mayhill. At Mayhill driving conditions improved a bit as the roads above that elevation had been salted. Finally we arrived at the cross country skiing trailhead. The parking lot had not yet been plowed, but I put the Subaru into first gear and we made it to an acceptable parking area.

I had a bit of trouble with the binding on my one ski, but after a bit of fiddling around with it we were skiing!
Noelle Skiing

Eric Skis

We skied the closed road that leads to several campgrounds. There we two trails that are officially open to skiing, but Noelle didn't feel comfortable with them and so we stayed on the roads. It was great to be on skis again. According to SkinnySki.com, the conditions in the mountains of southern New Mexico are better than in Duluth!

After our ski we went into Cloudcroft for lunch at Texas Pit barbeque. We had a delicious lunch and then hit the road again. We headed to NM Highway 310 and then took the Sunspot highway. We looked for possible areas to go Christmas Tree hunting. We stopped at a nice overlook of the Tularosa Basin at Haynes Canyon
Haynes Canyon Overlook

and then hiked a short trail to another overlook.
Noelle & Trail Overlook

Soon we found ourselves at the Upper Karr Canyon Recreation Area.
Frosty Aspens

Fence and Trees

We did a little sledding at the hill there

Snowy Trail in the Aspens

before we postholed into the woods on our Christmas Tree quest. Finally we found an acceptable specimen.
Eric & the Chosen Tree

Cutting Down our Tree

It's a Douglas Fir I believe. We cut her down and found a dead mouse wrapped around one of the branches.
Dead Mouse

Then we hiked her back to the car.
Our Christmas Tree

We opted to transport the tree in the car instead of tying it to the roof.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

La Cueva Trails

Today Noelle and wanted to gt out and do some hiking but wanted to stay close to home. Well, you can't go for a hike any closer to home than the La Cueva Trails which are located just down Standpipe Road from our house. We packed a pack with water and made the short drive to the rough road and parking lot before we hit the trail.
Noelle Hiking La Cueva

The La Cueva trails are, admittedly, not the most scenic around. Still it was nice to get out and go for a hike in the Chihuahuan desert
Fishhook Barrel

and we did find a few interesting things. We saw several cactus wren nests that had been built in cholla cacti.
Nest in Cholla

We also saw a pair of "wild" horses on the trail.
Wild Horse

We saw a black-tailed jackrabbit and a few birds like a mockingbird and some juncos. In addition, the interesting geology of the Guadalupe Mountains was on display. Lots of interesting pieces of limestone like this one filled with pisolites.

I had mountain biked these trails about 8 years ago when I had first gotten my Specialized Hardrock and if I had the money I would buy a new bike to ride these trails. For now though, I'll just have to settle for walking them.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Pine Tree Loop Trail

Got up to another beautiful Organ Mountains morning! We ate breakfast and drank hot beverages before taking a family photo with the beautiful mountains in the background.
Family Photo

Then it was time to do some hiking. We started the 4.5 mile Pine Tree Loop as the sun warmed the air.

Organs and Juniper

It was the third time I've hiked the Pine Tree Loop, although the last time was over 6 years ago. The views were just as spectacular as I remembered.
Rabbit Ears and Juniper

Eric and Parker Hike the Organs

Noelle Parker and Organ Mountains

Most of the beginning of the hike was an ascent. There were some burned areas and some area where the vegetation had been cut down, perhaps invasive species removal. Eventually we made our way up to a high ridge
Lone Pine

and then back down through some dry washes to our campsite.
Organ Mountains Campsite

We packed up camp and made our way back to the highway. Along the way we saw a large rattlesnake sunning itself on the road.
Rattler on the Road

It was a long drive back to Carlsbad. We stopped in Cloudcroft for a late lunch and to pick up a permit for a Christmas tree. We'll be headed back in a few weeks to cut it down.