Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Lincoln National Forest: Carrizo Peak

Early this morning I hit the road headed northwest through Roswell and into the Smokey Bear District of Lincoln National Forest for a hike of Carrizo Peak. I made it to the turn off for County Road A010, otherwise known as the Bar-O-Bar Ranch Road by 10 am. I passed the impressive ranch grounds and soon was into the National Forest. The road got considerably rougher as I crossed the forest boundary. Soon, I decided I could take the Subaru no further and so I parked at a grassy, pleasant campsite and continued on foot.

It wasn't much further on the road before I came to the trailhead for the Johnnie Canyon Trail.
I turned left and soon found myself in a maze of gullies and use trails. I was bit worried I might not be following the true path, but eventually the trail got more defined and headed into thicker woods. The trail definitely does not get much use. I would guess that, judging from the copious piles of bear scat, the trail gets more ursine use than human.
There were some flowers along the side of the trail and in one bunch flowers there were lots of reddish insects.
I'm not sure what they are, a fly or a bee of some type?

Soon I came to a small meadow and rock cairn. I guessed that this was the trail junction where I would leave the trail I'd been following for a while and take the Carrizo Peak Trail. There was no sign to mark the junction, but my instincts turned out to be right. The trail started to climb steeply and there were lots of downed trees across the trail. The going was pretty slow. I approached a meadow and followed the meadow up to the summit ridge. On the ridge I tagged the first of the two summits. This one was marked with a cairn inside which a summit register was hidden. I signed the register and posed for a photo and then went off to the second summit.

The second summit seems to me to be a bit lower than the first one I tagged. It, however, is marked with an official wooden sign.
I snapped a photo of it and then headed down to some shade to rest and eat a snack.
After about 45 minutes it was time to head down. The hike down went fast and before I knew it I was back to the car.

Monday, July 23, 2012

Lincoln National Forest: Sitting Bull Falls Cave

Surprisingly, I was able to get a permit for Sitting Bull Falls today, the day of our trip. Noelle, Robby and I headed into the national forest after lunch. We arrived at the parking lot and headed over to the falls.
It was the first time Noelle and I had been there in years. From near the base of the falls we walked through some shallow, flowing water to the base of the falls and a wall of travertine.
Then we started to make our way up the cliff wall.
There were some old steps that had been carved into the rock. Still, it was quite slippery.

We slowly made our way up the cliff to the cave and headed inside.
Water covered the entire floor.
In some places it was quite deep. We walked around the entire cave with some impressive formations and even some cave pearls.
After a while Robby and I decided to head into one of the deep areas.
The water was cold!
Then we carefully headed down out of the cavern.
We got back to the car and drove back into Carlsbad. Then we headed to Kaliedoscoops for some ice cream!

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Santa Fe's Railyard Park

I decided to head out of the mountains instead of going for a hike this morning. My decision turned out to be a good one as the daily, afternoon rains came early today. It was gray with lightning in the mountains by about 11. I headed into town to get some breakfast and run some other errands. I had some time to kill before the stores I needed to visit opened and so I finally got to check out the Railyard Park. It is a very interesting place, a combination playground, festival ground, botanical garden, community center, garden, and historical site. To me, it is what an urban park should be.
I left the park to head to the plaza downtown and passed this interesting church.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Santa Fe National Forest: Santa Fe Baldy Ascent

I woke up early this morning and drove up to the ski area to begin my ascent of Santa Fe Baldy. The first segment of my hike followed the Winsor Trail again. I passed many familiar landmarks as I made my way into the wilderness. Once I had entered into the Pecos Wilderness I continued on the Winsor Trail as the early morning sun painted the aspens a golden hue.
At the intersection with the Nambe Lake Trail,
I continued on the Winsor Trail and into some new territory.

Soon I got some great views of my objective: Santa Fe Baldy.
I also saw a lot of wildflowers in bloom.
As the Skyline Trail approached the top of a ridge my time on an official trail would end for a bit. I would be following an unofficial, social trail up to the summit and most of this trail would be above tree-line. There were lots of great views to Ravens Ridge and yesterday's hike.
Soon I crossed the first of two false summits
and then I could see the final ridge leading to the summit.
There were two climbers on the ridge.
They looked like ants marching up the rocky ridge. Before I knew it I could see the summit proper
and shortly thereafter I was standing on it.
From the summit there were great views over to the Truchas Peaks and down into Lake Katherine.

I relaxed up there for a while before starting my descent down.
The descent was going really well. I was down into the trees in no time at all.
I decided to hike back to the trailhead following a different route. I would head over to La Vega,
follow the Rio Nambe for a bit, and then ascend the steep section of trail known as the "Elevator Shaft".  My plan worked well for a while. The hiking down along the Rio Nambe was relatively easy.
Then, however, I entered a recently burned area.
It was difficult to follow the trail  and I soon came to a fence line in the burn where I found a charred trail sign. It was impossible to read the sign and the fence worried me. "Why would there be a fence within the wilderness?" I wondered. I decided that I must have passed the "Elevator Shaft" and missed it because it had burned. I decided to backtrack. This revised plan meant that I added considerable mileage to my hike and some difficult uphill miles at that. At least I wasn't lost though. In consolation, I saw this interesting looking fly as I stopped to rest.

Monday, July 16, 2012

Santa Fe National Forest: Deception, Lake, and Penitente Peaks

After my visit to La Cieneguilla Petroglyphs I stopped by the Public Lands Information Center to pick up a map for the Pecos Wilderness and some other information. Since it was still relatively early in the day I decided to head up into the mountains. It was a little bit after 11 am when I hit the trail.

I followed the Winsor Trail up to the wilderness boundary and then headed off the official trail, following a social trail along a fence up Ravens Ridge. I then followed the ridge line up to Deception Peak. From there it was an exposed, knife-edge hike over to Lake Peak.
There were some good views over to Santa Fe Baldy
and down to Nambe Lake which Noelle, Parker, and I had hiked to nearly 2 months ago.
When I reached the top I rested on the summit of Lake Peak for a while before moving on again to make my way over to my final summit for the day: Penitente Peak.
I rested on the summit for a while and even dozed off for a bit before I could hear the sound of thunder rumbling in the distance.
The thunder was a warning to start my descent. I had some rain and small hail to contend with on my way down, but things never got too bad. Along the course of my hike I was treated to some amazing views,
lots of wildflowers,

and even some wildlife.