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The wisps of snow we got a few days ago are gone, save for in the mountain tops and in the shadows.
Everyone here is grateful for the moisture. It’ll take a lot more to end our drought but every little bit helps.
The flowers are clearly enjoying the precipitation, and the bees are enjoying the flowers:
Spring, spring, spring. It can seem so far away when you’re surrounded by snow and ice.
But it’s not far away. It’s right around the corner.
Even the birds know it. All day, big flocks of Sandhill Cranes have been starting their journey home (they spend their winters at a wildlife refuge about an hour and a half south of Albuquerque). They make a riot of noise when they fly overhead.
The green stalks in these photos are not signs of spring. They’re more like signs of winter – they’re onions and garlic that have been growing the last few months. But their harvest will be coming up fast, too.
Yeah, the signs are here.
Spring is near.
New Mexico is beautiful.
On Tuesdays on this blog, I’ve been featuring beautiful outdoor spaces. Today I want you to come along with me to a very pretty place with a sinister name, Diablo Canyon.
The backstory is that my friend Amy, the one I’ve known since high school, is moving back to the Midwest. Before she goes, she told me she wanted to check out this canyon she’d read about – she found a passage about it from the Sierra Club’s Guide to Day Hikes in Santa Fe. I’d never been either.
That passage turned out to be very helpful. Exact directions to get to the canyon (take a left at the first fork in the road, travel 4 miles on the dirt road past the green windmill frame, etc), tips about the conditions (don’t go if it’s been raining), it had a little history, pointed out some birds to look for, mentioned that it’s a better winter hike because it’s about 10 degrees warmer in the canyon than in Santa Fe. It was a handy guide that promised a short but spectacular hike.
We set out on a perfect fall day.
The path was along a sandy arroyo (an arroyo is a water ditch), between the towering cliffs where there were lots of people rock climbing:
The reason you don’t want to hike this after the rain is because it’s no fun to walk through wet sand.
There are some rocks to hop over at the beginning of the hike, but then the rest of the hike, it’s like walking through a dry river bed. Passing formations like this one:
I didn’t look up the history of why it’s named Diablo Canyon, but it’s probably more than one reason. For one, it’s remote. Two, there’s definitely a big danger of flash floods during the monsoon season. The rock formations are imposing. The river can be dangerous even when it’s not monsoon season.
But as far as a day hike in October goes, Diablo Canyon is totally misnamed. It was not a difficult hike, certainly not dangerous in any way.
The guide book said it would take an hour and a half to reach the river, which was spot on. So it was a three hour hike round trip.
Look who we found along the way:
It’s a tarantula, they are migrating through northern New Mexico right now. Well, migrating isn’t quite the right description. It’s mating season, so the males are out and about looking for females. They live here all year, but residents usually only see them twice a year – spring and fall – so it appears that they are migrating.
They are very gentle spiders. This guy froze when we walked up with our cameras, which was awesome, like he was posing. In reality, we probably scared the crap out of him. He may be a big spider, but we are still much, much bigger than he is.
We let him get back to his business of finding a mate, and continued on:
See those yellow trees? We knew that’s where the river was.
Cottonwoods love to grow along the Rio Grande.
Aaaahhhh, the Rio Grande. The perfect place to stop and have a snack, and enjoy the views.
This is what it looked like downriver:
We had snacks and drank water while sitting along the riverside. It was so nice. Eventually, we turned around.
We could see the Santa Fe ski basin off in the distance:
The trees out here are nuts. They will grow anywhere (well, try to grow):
Crazy trees growing out of rocks.
You have to admire their enthusiasm for life.
More pretty formations on the way back to the car:
I highly recommend this hike in the fall and winter. It was flat the whole way. Dry sand is not difficult to walk on. The views are amazing. Chilling by the river was lovely.
If you decide to go, it’s important to be prepared – Amy and I had plenty of water and food for a day hike. The New Mexico sun is intense, even in October, no one should go anywhere without water. We also had sunscreen – there is not much shade until you get to the river.
Also be prepared for it to be a little crowded. We saw lots of jeeps and four-wheel drive vehicles, and there a couple of dozen rock climbers, we passed maybe ten or so other people hiking back to the river. We even had a funky looking helicopter fly right over us. So it’s not terribly secluded.
But it was still awesome.
The rock climbers were still at it when we got back to the trailhead:
I hope you enjoyed this tour of a Northern New Mexico hike. If you have any questions about how to get there, let me know.
Thanks Amy, for the suggestion. I’ll miss you, girl!
I’ll be back tomorrow, hope to see you here.
I’m trying to move away from my obsession with outdoor kitchens…by moving toward my obsession with porches.
This photo had been on tumblr, I think, but the original account seems to have been deleted so I can’t tell you where this is or who took the photo. I can tell you that it sure looks like a comfy porch to me.
I can remember as a kid at the farmhouse in Indiana, we would spent countless hours on the porch, watching storms roll in from the west. My house here in New Mexico lacks a porch, which is a missed opportunity, as we have magnificent storms here. C’est la vie.
I’ll be back tomorrow, hope to see you back here.
Awwwww! They’re so cute!
I hardly ever get to see prairie dogs (because I live downtown), so they’re not a nuisance to me – they’re adorable! The other day I was driving over by Tramway and saw a bunch of them playing next to the freeway.
How many can you spot? I counted four, but there could be more – there were a couple of dozen in the area.
I’ll be back on Monday, hope to see you here.
There’s something so romantic about the tall, elegant Hollyhocks (Alcea). Especially when they’re next to an adobe wall.
I’ve been photographing them around town to see if I could capture my feelings about them.
I started with a wall in Old Town Albuquerque that had been catching my eye for weeks. Then I continued downtown and in the South Valley. Here are some of my favorites:
Sweet, right? I’m going to keep adding to that list.
What do you think about Hollyhocks?
I’ll be back manana, hope to see you here.
We’ll be talking Friday the 13th mayhem during an all-new Ask the Experts panel manana, so that promises good times!
We’ll also be back with an answer to last week’s plant puzzler, submitted by mr_subjunctive over at Plants Are the Strangest People, in which he asked if this plant was real or fake:
If you haven’t already submitted your best guess, you still have time to do so in the comments section or on my facebook wall. The deadline is tonight at midnight MST (that’s 2am EST). We’ll have a brand new puzzler for you, too. Imaginary prizes will abound. Hope to see you back here.