Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Magoffin Home State Historic Site

Historic marker photo HistoricalPlaque_zps05c6fe84.jpg
After my hike up Bishop's Cap and lunch I headed towards downtown El Paso and the Magoffin Home State Historic Site.
Magoffin Home photo MagoffinHome_zps9a0ecda3.jpg
I toured the interesting house and learned about the Magoffin family a bit. Coincidentally, the family has its American origins in Kentucky and indeed there is a Magoffin County, Kentucky. After my tour of the house and grounds
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Cornerstone photo CityHallCornerstone_zpsce4b9303.jpg
I decided to brave the wind and walk around downtown El Paso a bit, since I had never been there before. I was impressed by the interesting architecture, but sadly many of the buildings seemed empty. I ended my tour at San Jacinto Plaza which at one time housed alligators.
San Jacinto Plaza photo AlligatorsonPlaza_zps2160be8c.jpg
Today the alligators are memorialized with a fiberglass sculpture and there seems to be some talk about bringing the alligators back

Bishop's Cap Peak

I knew the forecast today was for high winds. I just didn't care. I figured I had driven all the way to El Paso to drop Noelle and Sierra off at the airport, I might as well do some hiking. Luckily it wasn't too windy this morning. Anyway, after a mediocre continental breakfast at the hotel, I headed north into New Mexico and exited the intestate south of Las Cruces near Mesquite. I headed east into the desert and  parked at a parking lot for the Sierra Vista Trail.

From the parking area I headed south into the desert on the Sierra Vista Trail.
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I followed the trail until I approached a nice ridge that I figured would give easy access to the summit of Bishop's Cap. Almost immediately after heading off-trail I found an unusual cache of water and energy bars.
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From the cache I followed a ridge higher and higher up Bishop's Cap until I reached a sheer cliff. Instead of climbing the cliff I skirted it to the west and soon picked up a faint user trail.

Hiking the trail made the going relatively easy, but the wind began to pick up as I ascended. Luckily the last section of ascent was on the sheltered east side of the peak. I rested a short time out of the wind before tackling the final 100 yards to the summit.
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There was a cairn at the summit and one just below that contained a geocache. There was also an aviation beacon near the summit.
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I admired the view from the summit for a bit and then looked through the geocache for a bit (I thought it was a register) before making my way back down to the car.
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Monday, January 28, 2013

Brewing Day

Brewmaster Eric photo brewmasterEric_zps54b4aadb.jpg
Today I brewed beer for the first time. I got a kit from Northern Brewer for what they call Caribou Slobber. It's a brown ale in the style of Moose Drool (imagine that). We'll have to wait about 5 weeks to see how it tastes. 
Brewing photo brewing_zpscb59a15b.jpg

Monday, January 21, 2013

San Lorenzo Canyon

After my hike up Chupadera Peak I headed back to the hotel. Noelle got herself and Sierra ready and we went out to lunch before heading up to San Lorenzo Canyon. The canyon is located on BLM lands north of Socorro. I learned about it by looking for information about interesting looking places on the BLM website. After lunch it was a short drive on the interstate before we exited at the Lemitar exit. We followed the frontage road for a while and then turned left and headed into the desert.

At first the terrain did not look too promising for a canyon. Eventually, we began to see some rock walls and the canyon came into view. We could have driven the car into the canyon, but I decided it would be more interesting to walk it. Noelle fed Sierra while Parker rested a bit and then we headed into the canyon for our walk.
Parker Getting Ready photo ParkerReadyforHike_zpsa175f793.jpg
The rock formations lining the sides of the canyon were interesting. We decided to make a side trip into the first side canyon we found. We walked back into it as far as we could comfortably go with a baby and dog and then turned around to head back to the main canyon.
At the End of Side Canyon photo NoelleandSierrainSideCanyon_zps2ed02a35.jpg

We continued up canyon past may more interesting rock formations.
Walking the Canyon photo WalkingtheCanyon2_zps60821a0e.jpg
Stone Pillar photo RockPillar_zps4ea54313.jpg
Noelle and Sierra in Canyon photo CanyonShot_zpse6bbb0eb.jpg
We walked into another side canyon,
Sandy Side Canyon photo SandySideCanyon_zpsb14f3e30.jpg
but were again turned around due to the baby and dog. We walked up the canyon as far as vehicles can drive and then turned around to head back towards the car. Along the way I noticed a cave high up on one of the canyon's walls and Noelle gave me permission to check it out.
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It turned out to be not all that exciting, but was worth exploring. I returned to the main canyon and quickly caught up to Noelle, Sierra and Parker.
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We walked the last short stretch of canyon back to the car together.

San Lorenzo Canyon turned out to be quite interesting. It would be interesting to return some day and check out some of the less accessible areas. Some of these beckoning areas were just too rugged to explore with Sierra and Parker.
Happy Girls in Canyon photo happyGirls_zpsbd7cfd46.jpg

Bosque del Apache National Wildlife Refuge: Chupadera Peak

I woke up early this morning for a solo adventure. I left Noelle, Sierra, and Parker in the hotel room and headed down to the wildlife refuge again for a 9.5 mile hike up Chupadera Peak. I was in the refuge early enough to see some cranes and geese hanging out by the two ponds near the north entrance.
Sunrise and Birds photo cranesgeesemountains_zps0649406a.jpg
After watching the pink rays of the sun illuminate the mountains to the west, I decided it was time to move on to the trailhead and start my hike.

The hike began with a stroll through the shrubby desert lowlands. If it weren't for the many cairns the trail would have been easy to lose amongst the creosote bush.
Cairn photo cairn_zpsa0bb82cf.jpg 
Slowly, but surely I started to gain some elevation and then crossed under I-25 in a tunnel.
I-25 Underpass photo inunderpass_zpsb3e99b38.jpg
On the other side of the interstate I entered the Chupadera Wilderness and the ascent got a bit steeper.
Entering the Wilderness photo wildenessthreshold_zps68fc399f.jpg
Approaching the Mountains photo deserttrail_zps11b019a2.jpg
Soon a canyon came into view and the trail turned in the canyon's direction.
Approaching the Canyon photo hikingtowardscanyon_zps47956690.jpg
The canyon turned out to be interesting and as the trail exited it, the climbing got a bit more difficult.
Canyon photo atcanyonmouth_zps941311bd.jpg
I steeply made my way up the mountain slopes, crossed a fence using a stile, and then stood on the mighty summit of Chupadera Peak.
Chupadera Peak Benchmark photo benchmark_zps145cb928.jpg

There was a cold wind, but I found a sheltered area just of the summit and ate a snack and drank some water.
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The views from the lofty perch was splendid. I admired it for a bit and then started to make my descent.
View From Summit photo viewfromsummit_zpscd2b4edb.jpg
The climb had taken just over an hour and a half, the descent would go even more quickly. before I knew it I was back to my car.

Sunday, January 20, 2013

Bosque del Apache National Wildlife Refuge: Canyon Trail

After our exploration of the Camino Real International Heritage Center it was still early in the day. We drove the roller-coaster like NM-1 past an interesting monument commemorating the Civil War Battle of Valverde into the refuge. The start of the trail didn't look too promising.
Hiking in Sand photo hikingthesandydesert_zps1dcd6bcb.jpg
It just looked like a broad, sandy wash. Almost immediately Parker started walking very slow (he hates walking in sand) and Sierra let us know she was hungry. We fixed Sierra a bottle right on the trail while Parker rested in the limited shade.
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Once the baby was content we moved on towards some sandstone walls.

Soon we discovered the first inklings of there being a real canyon.
Noelle Enters the Canyon photo enteringthecanyon_zps712d4a90.jpg
Then the walls of the canyon rose higher and we found a small natural arch.
Eric and the Small Arch photo Ericatanarch_zps2dfdca7a.jpg
From the arch, the walls of the canyon got higher still.
High Canyon Walls photo Noelleandhighwalls_zps7231e563.jpg
While the canyon never got too deep, it was still impressive.

Eventually we made our way out of the canyon and traversed the rim. There were great views down to the distant wetlands.
Noelle Hikes on Rim photo distantwetlands_zpsc35f4bbf.jpg
Next we made our way back down into the sandy bottom of the wash and back to the car. It was only a 2.2 mile hike, but with a tired baby and the dog it seemed a bit longer.
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Camino Real International Heritage Center

Today being Sunday, Noelle, Sierra and I took advantage of our status as New Mexicans to tour the Camino Real International Heritage Center for free.
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Camino de Suenos Sculpture
It was an interesting place, but it doesn't seem to attract many visitors. Perhaps the fact that it is so far off the beaten path contributes to the lack of visitation. Anyway, we enjoyed the museum quite a bit.
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Sierra Saddles Up photo SaddleUp_zps6d751129.jpg

Saturday, January 19, 2013

Sunset at Bosque del Apache National Wildlife Refuge

Today marked the start of a four-day weekend for me and so this morning we hit the road around 11 for some adventure. Of course when traveling with a baby everything takes longer, and so we arrived at Bosque del Apache after three feeding/diaper stops, just in time for sunset. As it happens sunset is one of the best times of the day for watching the light geese and sand-hill cranes. We were treated to a wonderful show of flight and honking noises.
Sierra and Noelle photo SierraandNoelle_zps4f3b117a.jpg
Crane Amongst Geese photo craneamongstgeese_zpse0e20c52.jpg
Cranes at Sunset photo cranesatsunset_zps45950ffd.jpg
Sunset at the Bosque photo sunsetatthebosque_zps0d2ed668.jpg

Monday, January 7, 2013

Guadalupe Mountains National Park: Nipple Hill

My 36th birthday. I spent the day with friends hiking in Guadalupe Mountains National Park. I was talking to a friend at work and he mentioned a rock art site in the park that I had never heard of before. The area in which this rock art site is located happens to be near Nipple Hill which is another part of the park I've been wanting to explore for some time. And so, this morning Robby, Lee and I set out in Robby's car for Guadalupe Mountains National Park and the Frijole Ranch trailhead.

We arrived to find the road to Frijole Ranch closed and so we parked at the horse corral and hiked the road to the Smith Spring Trail.
Lee and Eric
We made fast time up to the spring and shortly after left the trail to find the rock art.
Approaching Rock Shelter
It was a steep climb, but eventually we found some rock shelters and the location of the pictographs.
Eric at Rock Shelter
The rock art was faded but interesting.
After a short time at the site, we headed back down to the trail and on to Manzanita Spring.
At Manzanita Spring
From the springs we backtracked a bit on the trail and then headed cross-country towards Nipple Hill.
Approaching Nipple Hill

The hill was less imposing than it had originally seemed and we made a quick ascent of it.
On Nipple Hill Summit
We spent some time surveying our surroundings from the top and then headed down towards highway 62/180.
Lee and Robby on Nipple Hill
Once we arrived close to the modern highway we found the old, abandoned road-bed and followed it back to Robby's car at the Frijole Ranch road.
Old Highway 62/180
It was a great way to spend a birthday!