Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Lincoln National Forest: Salado Canyon Trail

Noelle and I decided to beat the heat by hitting the trail early. We drove down Fresnal Canyon Road to the Salado Canyon Trailhead.
Salado Canyon Sign
We parked, ate a banana, and then hit the trail. It was a nice easy, level walk on the old bed of the Alamogordo and Sacramento Mountains Railroad. Almost immediately we could see a little bit of water down in the bottom of Salado Canyon. We could also see the reconstructed Salado Canyon Trestle.
Salado Canyon Trestle
We continued on up-canyon, eventually passing through some private land,
Private Property
until we could hear the sound of rushing water. There were some desert willow trees around and we enjoyed their shade and beautiful flowers.
Desert Willow
Then we enjoyed the sight, sound and cool feel of Bridal Veil Falls.
Bridal Veil Falls
Parker waded right in as usual. Even Eric had to dip his toes in.
Eric at Bridal Veil falls
All three of us enjoyed the the cool moist air, and the spectacle of water in the desert.
Resting at the Falls

From the falls we backtracked towards the trailhead, but kept following the rail/trail to the Salado canyon Trestle that we had seen earlier from a distance.
Noelle Walks Salado Cyn Trestle
We rested again in the shade of the trestle and Parker waded into the water again. After our break it was a hot, though short hike back to the car.

We headed back to the campground, packed up our gear, and then hit the road. Since it was still early in the day, we decided to enjoy the cool mountain air for a little while longer we would be forced down to the heat of the desert. We opted to drive through the forest to Bluff Springs.
Bluff Springs
Bluff Springs
Bluff Springs Closeup
We got out of the car there and walked around the interesting site. I told Noelle that it reminded me of a mini Mammoth Hot Springs without the hot water. After enjoying the scene we went back into Cloudcroft, got some lunch, and then drove back to Carlsbad.             

Monday, May 28, 2012

Lincoln National Forest: Switchback Trail

This morning Noelle, Parker and I set out for the some relief from the hot desert air. We drove up into the mountains outside of Cloudcroft. We even caught a hitchhiker on our way.
The cicada that caught a ride with us.
Originally I had planned to hike to Bridal Veil Falls. Having never been there before I was a bit disappointed when we arrived at the trailhead to discover how low, hot and lacking shade the trail was. Parker would not enjoy such a hot hike, so instead we opted to hike the Switchback Trail since we had seen a sign for it on our way.
Switchbacks Trail

Switching hikes turned out to be a good thing. Parker would have died of heat stroke had we taken him on the Salado Canyon Trail. Even our hike at the much higher elevations of the Switchback Trail was a struggle for Parker with his thick, black fur. Still, we made the best of the situation by hiking slow and taking plenty of breaks in the shade. The Switchback Trail, like many of the other trails in the Cloudcroft area, follows abandoned railroad grades. It was a mostly level hike. Eventually, we made our way down and crossed highway US-82 on a neat little pedestrian bridge.
US 82 & Ped Bridge
Crossing on Pedestrian Bridge

After crossing the highway, our hike was mostly uphill. We stopped several times to rest in the shade.
Parker at Rest
Soon, we would again pass to the other side of US-82. This time we would follow a tunnel under the highway.
Eric hikes to Tunnel
Pregnant Noelle Silhouette
Shortly after passing through the tunnel we were back to the trailhead and our car in Bailey Canyon.
Switchback Trailhead
From there we drove through Cloudcroft and up to the Saddle Campground where we found a site for the night. We even had a nice little campfire, something we don't do too often.
Enjoying the Campfire

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Santa Fe National Forest: Big Tesuque & Bear Wallow Loop

After packing up the tent, Noelle and I ate some breakfast and then I headed out on the trail for a little solo hiking. Noelle and I had planned that we would meet back at the trailhead just north of Hyde Memorial State Park in an hour.

The hike started out very pleasant. The air was cool, the sky was blue and the vegetation was green. There was lots of aspen along the sides of the trail as I hiked through a small meadow.
Soon I entered into the woods.
Big Tesuque Trail
I found an odd trail marker along the side of the trail. It was marked "P1 1939".
Strange Trail Marker
Is it some kind of old grazing allotment marker?  I realized I was running a bit late and so I really hustled to meet Noelle and Parker at the trailhead at our allotted time. Unfortunately, I ended up getting there 15 minutes behind schedule.

While I was able to hike much faster by myself, it was nice to have my hiking partners back.
Hiking Bear Wallow Trail
We headed down the trail and were treated to lots of beautiful wildflowers in bloom.
White Flower Head
Wild Strawberry
Yellow Flower Cluster
It was a really pleasant hike and there were lots of other hikers out enjoying the beautiful day. We didn't see a whole lot of wildlife, probably due to so many people out and about. We did see a few butterflies though!

After crossing Tesuque Creek twice,
Crossing Big Tesuque Creek
we ascended back to the trailhead. After lunch in Santa Fe, we hit the road. It was a hot drive back to Carlsbad.          
Temperature!?!, Too hot!
Check the temperature!

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Santa Fe National Forest: Nambe Lake

Despite Parker's difficulties with the hike yesterday, Noelle and I felt confident that he would do better in the cooler, shadier mountain air today. Our proposed hike would be one listed as difficult in our hiking guide; a six mile round-trip hike to Nambe Lake.

We started our hike at the trailhead at the Santa Fe Ski Area parking lot.
Hiking Winsor Trail
We followed the Winsor Trail for a couple pleasant miles into the Pecos Wilderness before turning onto the Nambe Lake Trail.
Hiking in Spruces
Eric at Pecos Wilderness Sign
At the junction of the two trails was a wonderful panorama of Santa Fe Baldy, a 12,000 foot plus mountain that towers over the southwestern Pecos Wilderness.
Santa Fe Baldy
Once on the Nambe Lake Trail the hike got considerably more strenuous. We roughly paralleled the Rio Nambe as it cascaded down the mountains.
Rio Nambe Cascades
Small Waterfall
It was a steep trail, with lots of pockets of deep drifted snow in the dark, shady areas of the canyon.
Snow on the Trail
We crossed through two small meadows before making the final ascent to Nambe Lake.

Nambe Lake is a beautiful spot. There's the shallow lake surrounded by a ring of spruce trees and the surrounding peaks. We lingered for a while at the lake, took some photos and then felt forced to move on due to the serious insect hatch.
Noelle and Parker at Nambe Lake
Happy Family at Nambe Lake
I'm not sure what type of insects they were. They weren't biting, but there were just so many of them as to be annoying.

The hike back to the trailhead went much faster than the hike up. Still, the deep patches of snow slowed us down on places. Despite the difficulties, this turned out to be our favorite hike in quite some time.          

Monday, May 21, 2012

Santa Fe National Forest: Caja del Rio Canyon

Caja del Rio Canyon
Noelle, Parker and I awoke in Moriarty, ate breakfast, and then headed north to Santa Fe. Our destination was a canyon on an arroyo that drains into the Rio Grande called Caja del Rio or Diablo's Canyon. After a long drive on some dirt roads we arrived at the top of the canyon. Parker was excited to be hiking for the first time in a while and quickly hopped out of the car. Unfortunately his enthusiasm didn't last. It would be a hot, shadeless walk to the Rio Grande and back.

The hike started out with some great views of the impressive canyon.
Heading Towards the Caja del Rio Canyon
We soon entered the canyon where we were treated to a few areas of shade and a few wildflowers in bloom.
Yellow Flower
As we exited the canyon, shade would become difficult to find.
Looking Back at Canyon
Looking back after exiting the canyon.
Parker would plop down any time he could find the smallest sliver of respite from the hot sun.
Parker in the Shade
I was relieved to see a line of green cottonwoods on the horizon that I knew marked the location of the river.

As soon as we arrived at the Rio Grande, Parker waded in for a drink.
Parker Wades in the Rio Grande
Noelle and I took off our shoes and cooled our feet in the water and relaxed for a bit.
Noelle Cools Feet in Rio
Eric in the Rio Grande
After about 30 minutes we decided to make our way back to the car on a road that paralleled the arroyo. Storm clouds began to gather to the west, but we never got rained on.
Approaching Storm
Prickly Pear Cactus
We were all glad to be back to the car and I blasted the air conditioner as we headed up into the mountains and our campsite at Big Tesuque Campground.   
Resting at Big Tesuque