Sunday, September 21, 2014

Mount Cabezon

A few weeks ago we decided to head out to Mount Cabezon...we look at this peak every day and wanted an up close view of it. We delayed going there for a while because it was "monsoon" season and every hike we did ended up with hail and lightening...not good if you are on top of a peak that shoots 1000 feet up from the valley floor. As the crow flies this peak is only 30 miles away but driving took about 45 minutes and a lot of it was on what they call a "two track" dirt road, meaning a dirt road through BLM land. As we drove we caught a glimpse of something chasing us. I had Jeff stop the car and as I popped out to take a look a really big donkey/burro (is there s difference?) came barreling up. Jeff told me to get in the car since it looked like it was on a mission and after I got in it went to the driver's side and stuck its head in the window - nothing menacing about that! Turned out to be the highlight of the day!

After a long time on the two track, and seemingly driving into nothing-land, we did arrive on the back side of Cabezon. There was a place to park and a small placard/trail map. We headed up the very steep trail around the "head." We must have missed the not-very-obvious route up to the top. The book said it was not a clear route but we honestly could not find any thing that looked even possible. Everything was crumbly and steep steep steep. So we continued around looking at very healthy cholla (cactus) and some neat lichen. The lichen was almost fluorescent and formed neat patterns on the rocks. We followed directions in our hiking book in order to make our way on what appeared to be cattle paths to circumvent the peak. There were large boulder patches that made this interesting and no real trails.

We got through all the boulders and kept following things around making it up as we went. We could see for miles. There were very healthy cacti and still fruit on most of it. Very healthy cactus plants and still a lot of wildflowers blooming. We came to a spot where we could over look the parking area we parked in which now had a couple cars in it.

We picked our way down and then continued on the two track toward another peak. The road kind of got worse and the arroyos deeper. The fields did quiver in a nice breeze with seed heads and blossoms swaying in the wind. We looked at some more neat rock formations before heading home. New Mexico is definitely the place to have a camper. With all the BLM two track land it is a cool place to be if you really want to be away from it all. The landscape is terrific and camping is allowed for up to seven days. Everything here is free or if you go to a developed park or camp area usually $3 or something. Many nice destinations are a few hours away so it is nice to be able to camp and wake up somewhere to photograph at sunrise or be there at sunset. So far we just do day trips but a pop up camper or something may be in our future.

Monday, September 8, 2014

Petroglyphs at Piedras Marcadas Canyon, Albuquerque NM

Every week I try to go out photographing with a photographer friend. Sometimes I pick the spot and sometimes he does and often times he picks places I probably wouldn't go on my own. This trip was one of those times...we went to the zoo and then stopped on the way home at the Piedras Marcadas Canyon in Albuquerque. A couple other folks joined us for the zoo part of the day and it was very interesting to see what everyone came up with. I only took a couple animal photos there, and the rest were part of my working project...Shadows- Photographs of Nothing. Enough of that. Petroglyphs are always interesting to see and think about but really don't make great photos. What am I going to do with them? That aside, we walked on the sandy trail through acres of wildflowers. There always seem to be wildflowers around. Yes, we did get distracted and spent a bunch of time in the fields a little off trail while we headed to the volcanic cliffs. Petroglyph National Monument has on of the largest concentrations of petroglyphs in North America. There are approximately 25,000 images in the West Mesa escarpment. The park itself is actually in three different locations. It is a 17 mile long cliff of basalt formed by eruptions around 200,000 years ago. Boca Negra Canyon is a super short walk with signs pointing to specific petroglyphs. Only 5% of the petroglyphs are at that site but it is the most visited because there are facilities and it is a short walk. You have to drive through neighborhoods to get to it and houses are literally only an acre or so away.

Another of the sites is the Rinconada Canyon which has been closed due to washed out trails. I haven't been there yet. We rambled over to the Piedras Marcadas Canyon, drove past houses in a neighborhood, parked in the neighborhood and walked out on the sandy trail to two of three main clumps or outcroppings. It was smack in the middle of the day so the light was pretty harsh and most of the datura flowers near the rocks were closed but we did scope it out for a different morning trip. Since we were there though we hiked and climbed around and took a few shots. It amazes me that you can just go right up to these historic bits of art. It amazes me that a neighborhood is right there - what a cool thing to be able to wander in every day or night. It is also great that there wasn't any trash or vandalism. Very nice to have this wonderful stuff 40 minutes away. I plan to go back at dusk or dawn and definitely in the winter when there is a dusting or snow or frost!