Sunday, December 13, 2015

Cieneguilla Recreation Area

Jeff and I wanted to get out of the house and do a little hike. It was cold on our mesa and we figured it could be windy everywhere or maybe we could find a small protected pocket somewhere. Jeff had a hike in mind but we had to find it first. We drove up toward Santa Fe (about 45 minutes north) and were following directions in his book but still couldn't find a real trail or parking pullout so we opted to do something else. This something else turned out to be a very nice surprise! Not only was the weather really really nice but the spot was spectacular! We ended up at the Cieneguilla Recreation Area on a trail you might as well call THE petroglyph trail. Albuquerque has amazing petroglyphs at 3 locations that are considered one park. There are thousands at those sites and just like here you can walk right up to them. This spot though has really spectacular ones and lots of them.

We started up the trail to the top of the bluff. It was a typical trail for here. We got to the top not having seen any obvious petroglyphs. We went atop the mesa and peered over the edge at a farm and saw a few pecked into the rocks so we opted to climb down to take a look. There were petroglyphs all over in the densest concentrations we have seen. They don't appear to be as worn as the Albuquerque ones. Just like Albuquerque though these are pecked into basalt. The view from on top of the bluff was of a couple mountain ranges and Santa Fe way in the distance. Snow capped the peaks and it was really pretty in the bright sun.




 At some point I will have to research the meaning of the things. For now though it is enough to have seen them.

Monday, December 7, 2015

Deadman Peaks: Continental Divide Trail

Yesterday it looked like the wind was minimal and as always that sun was out. Perfect day for a hike! The most difficult thing about hiking here is deciding where to go. We have a couple books, there are meet-up hikes and so many places everywhere that the decision-making is what takes time. We settled on a hike with "minimal shade" since it is winter...something around 5-7 miles (that's long enough for me) and something under 2 hours from home. The Continental Divide Trail is out near Cabezone on the road toward Cuba. It involves driving around a bunch on two track dirt about 35 miles from the nearest food/gas. The trail itself is over 3,000 miles long.

We got directions from the book Albuquerque 60 Hikes within 60 miles by Ausherman. We have done quite a few hikes in this book to lesser known sites like yesterday's...we didn't see a single person on the hike and only saw two trucks out there miles away. According to the book the unusual red rocks we saw were called "red dog" and are the result of  low-grade metamorphic changes in mudstone due to coal seam fires. There were lichens all over the rocks and hoodoos and layered rocks and mounds of very thorny cacti. The only way you would know there was a trail was if you noticed the cairn piles. This trail is out there!

Jeff is the teeny tiny orange dot on the top of the "Deadman Peak."

Hiking is always interesting here. The geology makes things very interesting but mainly it is the light....boy is there light and it changes how everything looks hour by hour!

Bingham NM - Blanchard Mine Trip

A couple months ago we joined the Albuquerque Gem and Mineral Club. I am not a club fan and I really dislike "meetings" but this group has some nice presentations and they have a once a month field trip to hunt/collect rocks and minerals. We took a trip to the Blanchard Mine where one of the members has a claim specifically to remove minerals. He has had the claim since 1987 and has pulled a lot of nice specimens out of it. Once a year he leads a trip and lets club members collect. We hear it is the most popular trip of the year. This is probably for a couple reasons - nice specimens AND you can get four wheel drive vehicles right up to the mine (rocks are heavy) AND it is only 1 1/2 hours from Albuquerque. All plusses.

We left the house at an ok hour (not too early) so we could get there by 9:30. When we arrived there were already 15 or so cars lined up. By 9:30 36 cars were there all signed in and we headed further up the two track dirt where we hopped into 4 wheel drive vehicles. Up we went. Around 20 people were allowed into the mine for about 1 1/2 hours. We were in the first batch. Mines are a lot more interesting than I originally thought they would be. This was our second mine (Galena King was the first)). The outside of mines usually have mounds of interesting rocks and minerals. Inside there are usually lots of minerals all over the ground and big chunks or streaks of stuff in the ceiling and walls. We were told not to hammer anything out over shoulder height. It was overwhelming to pick through what was on the ground...we really don't know what we are looking at at this point.

Jeff went to the end of the shaft (not far) and I plopped down just inside the mine not knowing where to look or what to do. I sat in a pocket and just started to look at things. I am glad I stayed near the made it easier to move my couple big "yard rocks" out. Things are heavy. Then I started to chip away at some streaks and gather up smaller pieces.


The cold temperature mellowed into a nice sunny windless afternoon when we exited the mine. We spent a couple more hours banging on rocks outside the mine and digging through piles in search of more treasures and waiting for a ride down. On the ride out someone pointed out a really long rock wall from ancient times. We would not have seen it.

We did a slight detour on the way home to check out the Apache Wetland area but it was the Crane Festival and I was grumpy and didn't want to deal with all the photographers and people heading out to wait for sunset when the whooping cranes fly in. I want to see it, but next year we may go ahead of the festival when no one is there. We drove home and admired our treasures!

Minerals found in this mine include: angle site, barite, bronchantite (green), cerussite, fluorite (lots), galena (gray cubes and heavy), gypsum, linarite (royal blue that we didn't find...maybe a couple dots of it), calcite and a bunch of other stuff. Originally it was mined to process galena ore then barite and fluorite. It was not a successful mine. It is in the Oscura Mountains on the eastern margin of the Rio Grande rift in fault block mountains. It is really neat to get to visit spots like this that we would not be able to go to on our own. It is way out in the middle of nowhere with nothing near it!