Monday, October 31, 2011

Hiking Lincoln National Forest Near Cloudcroft

This morning Noelle, Parker and I packed up the Subaru and headed up into the mountains near Cloudcroft to do some hiking. our first stop was the Trestle Recreation Area where Noelle and I had hiked several years ago. We headed past the replica train station and into the cool, pine-scented forest.
Hiking Cloudcroft

As we hiked we got into some snow!
Hiking in the Snow
It sure is quite a contrast up here compared to down in the Chihuahuan Desert of Carlsbad! Eventually we made it to Mexican Trestle where we turned around.
Mexican Trestle
It was kind of hilly back there. Parker really seemed to enjoy the cool mountain air though. Soon we found ourselves at the ruins of the "S Trestle". We took a photo there that was similar to one we took several years ago.
Eric at  "S Trestle"
We also visited the Devil's Elbow overlook before we headed back to the parking lot.
Devil's Elbow Overlook

Our hiking near Cloudcroft was not yet complete for the day though. We headed a little ways down the mountain to the Osha Trail.
Osha Trailhead
The Osha Trail was an enjoyable hike through the forest. Most of the deciduous trees' leaves were down, but there was a little bit of color left in the forest. There were a few big trees in the forest there.
It was a great day of hiking in the mountains! As we left Cloudcroft we headed steeply down the mountain and made our way to Oliver Lee Memorial State Park where we camped for the night.
Noelle at Campsite

Parker the Desert Dog
There are some great views of Dog Canyon from the campground.
Dog Canyon
Noelle and I hiked Dog Canyon several years ago. It is a very interesting place with some interesting history.
Our evening ended with a beautiful sunset!
Sunset at Oliver Lee State Park

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Eric and Noelle's New Mexico Home

Front of House
The Front of the House

The Entryway

Bats on House Number
House Number with Bats

Living Room
Living Room



Bedroom view 1

Bedroom  2
Bedroom view 2

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Exploring Carlsbad

This morning Noelle and I had an enjoyable breakfast. We lounged around and drank coffee and relaxed on the porch. Eventually we decided to go for a walk and so we headed out to the Riverwalk for a nice stroll along the Pecos River.

The temperature was perfect. We headed downstream to the southern end of the trail and then crossed the river on the dam there before heading back upstream.

Once back home we ate lunch and then I headed out on bicycle to explore the bike trail that follows the irrigation ditch.
Eric on Bicycle

It is not the most scenic trail I've ever been on, but it was nice to get outside and get some exercise.
Bike Path

It was the first time I had been on a bicycle in a while! I ended up riding to the flume and the Pecos River Springs from which the town of Eddy was renamed Carlsbad.
Carlsbad Springs

I then headed back home, most of the way I rode on the rough dirt road on the opposite side of the ditch.

Monday, October 24, 2011

The Jose Maria Polancio Grave Expedition: Part II

Jose Maria Polancio Grave

After our hike in McKittrick Canyon, I convinced Noelle that we should go try and find the Polancio grave which I had unsuccessfully tried to find in September. We drove away from the canyon and headed to the Guadalupe Mountains National Park visitor center to use the restroom. From there we headed past the tall peaks of the Guadalupes to the small, unmarked Guadalupe Canyon Trailhead. We parked and quickly crossed modern US 62/180. On the other side we found the old roadway which had been abandoned in I believe the 1960s. We followed the road for a bit, crossed an old flattened wire fence and then followed the fence line for a bit, thrashing through catclaw, yuccas and cactus.

Once we hit the crest of a small hill, I looked down into a shallow wash and saw the object of our travels, an upright slab of tan stone that had been thrust into the ground. I waited for Noelle to catch up and then we dropped down into the drainage before ascending a little hill to the grave. It was in an impressive location with a nice backdrop of the Guadalupe Mountains.
Polancio Grave and Guads

The headstone itself was engraved with the inscription "Jose Maria Polancio, Guide, Killed Feb. 1855 by Indians".
Grave Inscription

I've recently taken a strong interest in the Butterfield Overland Mail and found a firsthand account of a traveler along the mail route. The traveler's name was Waterman L. Ormsby and he wrote a series of articles on the Butterfield Mail for the New York Herald in 1858. In his correspondence Ormsby writes of finding the Polancio grave. " Just before the bottom of (Guadalupe) Canyon is reached there stands the grave of a Mexican guide, who had ventured in advance of his party and was murdered by the Indians -a thrilling reminder of of another of the dangers of this dreadful pass." I find it incredible that the rough headstone has fared so well over the years. 

Guadalupe Mountains National Park: McKittrick Canyon

This morning, Noelle and I had a leisurely breakfast outside on our patio before heading south into Texas and Guadalupe Mountains National Park to check out the fall colors in McKittrick Canyon. After using the restroom and checking in at the contact station, we hit the trail. The cool of the morning was already starting to fade by the time we made our first crossing of McKittrick Creek.
Crossing McKittrick Creek

As we strolled along the wide trail we conversed a bit and admired the trees like this Texas madrone.
Eric & Texas Madrone

I wasn't really paying attention when I nearly stepped on a black-tailed rattlesnake!
Black-Tailed Rattlesnake

After watching our reptilian friend slither away we moved further up canyon and soon we started to see some of the canyon's famous maple trees. The further up canyon we traveled the more color the maples showed off. Before we knew it we were at Pratt Cabin, a stone cabin built by oil tycoon Wallace Pratt in the 1930s.
Pratt Gate

As we sat in the shade near the cabin we reminisced about our first hike to the cabin about 9 years ago. We decided that we needed to take a photo of me in a pose I had made on our first trip to this spot.
Eric at Pratt Cabin

We also had a friendly couple of hikers take our photo near the entrance to the cabin.
Eric and Noelle at Pratt Cabin

As we were getting ready to move on to the Grotto a NPS employee offered to let us see the inside of the cabin!

After exploring the inside of Pratt Cabin we moved further upstream through some really vibrant fall color to the Grotto.
Noelle in Maples

Hiking McKittrick Canyon

I took a photo of Noelle similar to one that I had taken of her 9 years earlier.
The Grotto

From the Grotto we moved just a bit further upstream to the Hunter Line Cabin and the stone shack there.
Hunter Ranch Shack

Mountain and  Hunter Shack

Then we turned around and started to make our way back to the car. There were still plenty of colorful leaves on the trees
Fall Color on the Trail

and we also stopped to admire a deep pool of water with some trout in it.
Noelle Creek

The hike back seemed a bit longer than the hike to the Grotto, and as the sun was now quite hot, we were glad to be finished with our hike. We had a great time though.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

The Lowest Point in New Mexico

A bit over a month ago I ascended to the highest point in New Mexico, Wheeler Peak. Today I decided to go on an adventure to the lowest point in New Mexico which just happens to be just south of Carlsbad on the border with Texas. This adventure got me thinking about state low points and I realized that I've been to several of them without thinking much about it. One that comes to mind immediately is the low point of New Jersey. The lowest point of land in new Jersey being the Atlantic Coast, I visited the lowest point in the Garden State every summer for our family vacation. Upon investigation on a special low points website I realized that I've been to the lowest point in not just New Jersey but Louisiana (New Orleans), Rhode Island (Atlantic Coast), Virginia (Atlantic Coast), and Maine (Atlantic Coast again). These are just the one's that I can readily think of right now. There are probably others I've been to as well. I think one of these days I might make and official list of the low points I've visited.

The lowest point in New Mexico is the only state low point that I've actually made an effort to go visit. Really the only reason why I decided to go do this was because I was itching for some adventure and I did not want to drive too far away. Anyway, I set off this morning and headed south on US285 to the New Mexico/Texas boundary. Here I made a left onto a dirt road and made my way to the northern edge of the Red Bluff Reservoir.  I parked in a dusty patch of land at the end of the road and hiked along the river/reservoir to where a fence led right down to the water's edge.
New Mexico's Lowest  Point

I assumed this to be the state border and thus the lowest point in New Mexico.

From the lowest point I made my way back upstream past the skeletons of numerous dead fish
Fish Skeleton

and shells of a few turtles.

Eventually I made my way to some small cascades on the Pecos River.

Pecos Cascade

It was a pretty little spot that I'm guessing few people appreciate. I walked a bit past the small cascades but, because I had brought no water, was forced to make my way back to the car shortly thereafter.
Wide Pecos

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Return to Alamo Mountain, Otero Mesa


Several years ago Noelle and I visited Alamo Mountain to check out the abundant rock art found on her slopes. Today I returned to Alamo Mountain, not only to look for petroglyphs,

Wind God Site

Rabbit Ears

Interesting Panel

New Mexico Petroglyph

but also to ascend to the summit. I camped last night near the base of the mountain and this morning as soon as I felt I had enough light to safely start my ascent I started to make my way up the mountain's southwestern flank.

As I made my way up about 1/4 of the way up I started to see some rock art. First I saw a petroglyph of a naked man, perhaps a shaman performing some type of spiritual ritual.
Naked man Petroglyph

This is one of the more interesting petroglyphs I've thus seen on the mountain. Soon I would find another really interesting example of rock art, a panel adorned with a shield bearing warrior.
Shielded Warrior

The warrior seemed to be guarding the route to the summit of Alamo Mountain. Could this be a bad sign for the climb ahead?

After the two interesting rock art finds, the climbing got much more difficult. The ascent reminded me of yesterday's ascent of Wind Mountain with lots of vegetation blocking the path, and boulders to scale. Finally, I arrived on a relatively flat, sloping mesa.
Summit Area Grassland

From there it seemed that there were two possible summits. I headed first for western one and when I arrived there i found a cairn and a register inside a glass jar.
Summit Register Container

I signed the register and had a look around the summit area.

In a juniper tree I found someone had tied some prayer flags.
Prayer Flags

From the western summit I headed over to the eastern one. There was no cairn or register there, but I rested there and ate a snack. I also admired the view of the surrounding Cornudas Mountains and the distant Guadalupes before making my way down off the mountain.
View from Alamo