Wednesday, April 26, 2017
Monday's hike was windy but not cold (at least after we got started). We enjoyed the beginnings of a Claret Cactus show and the splendid views in all directions.
This was along the tops of the cliffs southwest of the Hospital in Del Norte. If you have time, those cactus flowers will be in bloom for another couple of weeks--worth an uphill walk to the South-facing slopes up high. Several other floral shows may be getting ready to show off in the same area.
Thanks for Sherry's fotography and enthusiasm. My camera needed a dose of energy which I hadn't given it.
No hike on Wednesday this week. We will start Monday and Wednesday hikes at the Visitor Center in South Fork on May Day (May First and May 3rd). As usual we will try to have a different hike each of the two days. Normal starting time: 9 a.m.
Dennis is back and hiking. In June (or before) he will offer kids' hikes, probably with gathering and parking at the Chapel of the South Fork. Another adult or more help keep things happy and under control.
Due to my ineptitude in writing, several people have asked when tomorrow's hike will start.
We have changed the starting time for Monday to 9 a.m. at the Visitor Center.
They win. Meet at 9 a.m. at the visitor center.
We will start at 9 a.m. from now on through the summer and into the fall.
(If you don't read this in time and want to catch up with us, we will be parked at the trailhead lot
in Del Norte (at the place you turn off 160 to go to the hospital). You may find us up south of the hospital and out beyond that on the big range of hills to the south of the hospital. We will go up, wander around the hill tops, then come back the same way we went up.
Notice: 9 a.m. is our starting time for Monday and the rest of the summer. When May 1 and 3 come upon us, we will have two 9 AM starts-- Monday and Wednesday mornings. These hikes are almost always different. They are about the same distance most of the time, but they are to different places. We will announce ahead of time when one or the other is especially difficult or different in distance.
(However, a few times during the summer there will be announcements of earlier starts so we can get to some far away places. For example, several people want to climb some of the high peaks over near Lake City. We will announce those as we schedule them--probably in July and/or August.)
If someone or some paper still repeats a rating or difficulty "rule", please recognize that they probably haven't been hiking with us and don't have current information.
We haven't conducted hikes with rating systems for several summers. Of course, each hike is different. Sometimes in the summer we have recent arrivals on a hike and we have to adjust the distance and speed. If we have an unusually "easy" or "hard" hike, we will do our best to announce it a day or two before we start.
One hiking club asked us how many hikes/trails we have available. We made a quick count to 75.
Since then, we have followed 5 or 6 that we hadn't included. If you get bored with those, we may be able to find more.
Many of you have preference for different types of hikes. Please let us know ahead of time so we can
plan our hikes to suit you. The only limitations on this are:
1) We hike in the forest, on the dunes, across the taiga, or in the valleys;
We can't find many places for "flat" hikes.
2) We seldom take "asphalt" hikes.
3) We do cross some creeks, few of which have bridges; we recommend hiking boots.
4) We don't have the equipment or skills or insurance to lead rope-cable-piton hikes.
A reminder: we ask that you not bring pets with you no matter what their temperament or size. Some of our hikers are uncomfortable around other peoples' pets. Occasionally pets require special attention.
This beautiful Easter morning +1day offered a nice stroll along the Rio Grande. The moon set before we left, but the sky was deep blue and a few flowers were showing off for those who looked for them. The River was full and running fast. Lots of evidence of elk was helping fertilize the almost-green grasses. Our feet took us across from the Masonic Park, where we sat for a while while we hunted for refreshments in our packs. Then we moved away from the river, headed NW toward our vehicles on the SW side of the RR tracks.
This almost hike was requested by some starting hikers to help build up their breathing and muscles. They reported that it went well. Some said that they could now handle some steeper slopes. We'll help them ease into these hikes with another slightly slanted Monday hike next week (9 a.m.).
Then, on May 1 and May 3, we'll start our 9 a.m. hikes. These usually cover about 5 miles and go into the afternoon a little. Some may take us for a few more miles but we'll warn you.
We suggest that you hikers do some vigorous walking on hill near home at least 2-4 times per week between the group hikes. These short vigorous walks will make the group hikes easier and more fun.
Wayne and I will lead hikes, with Dennis Shepherd helping out and taking kids on Thursdays, meeting at the Chapel of the South Fork. (By the way, the Chapel now has a new minister who started yesterday with a fine and lively service. You are all welcome.)
Welcome back to several hikers who had taken trips to exchange cold and replace it with heavy rain. They got a sunny, lovely day for a hike, finding a few spring flowers and lots of sun on the SE side of our town's closest mountain (Sentinel). We tried a "new" steep descent on two trails through the cliffs, to the W of Ramon's restaurant. Two hikers were wiser and descended comfortably behind Doc's.
As the spring season progresses, we will continue our Monday 10 a.m. start times, until cool weather yields to warmth, probably until May 1, when we may shift to 9 a.m. and soon offer hikes on Monday and Wednesday.
I'll check out the snow cover on Sentinel Mountain--it looks like ascent to the top (10,000') may be pleasant in mid May or sooner. It is steep, although it is very close. Get ready to walk up steep inclines if you want to make it. We'll be going to other places that are less inclined on most days. Here in the mountains, however, we must be going up or down more often than on the level. But on average, we're balancing the up and down.
Mountain Candytuft 4-9 One of the earliest spring flowers
Ball Cactus 4-9
New flowers ready 4-10
Del Norte Peak from Sentinel Mtn. (We'll be up there in late June or early July)
Mtn Mahogany leafing out
Hikers moving up
An ancient Ute CMTree
Some of the 13 hikers
up to the ridge
Three truckloads of people drove to Bishop's Rock, on newly protected BLM land (Southwest of Monte Vista; about 5 miles North into the Rio Grande County Line). The gentle but somewhat jumbled rock complex gave us a winding trail to the top. We followed new bike trails along the top of the rocks, enjoying grassy places for camping or picnicking. Then we took the down escalator toward the north and went past the Bishop and said our farewells.
Some day, you may pass by the bishop and continue on the county road, where you can find two Forest Service campgrounds (summer and fall). A county park (XC skiing and picnicking and hiking) is just a few miles up the road, in the trees.
(Some summer day, I hope to take the 6-9 mile (one way) hike on Greenie Mountain, just to the South of our destination today. That's a near-trot most of the way, to get back in time.)
Next Monday we'll watch the weather and select another of the pleasant destinations in our county.
10 a.m. at Visitor Center.
A road hike took us into the country above and below Agua Ramon. We parked at the church and climbed to the cross. On early Easter morning, several dozen people will take the same route.
We saw snow squalls all around us, often covering Del Norte Peak and others, but none got to us until we got back to the visitor center. Later in the day, one of our better snowfalls gently covered the earth with a white blanket that continues to accumulate today (Tuesday).
We 're enjoying several new hikers and welcome more; no charge, no dogs, but happy good spirits, please.
Community Pot Luck dinner tonight (at least that's the plan).
Next Monday, we'll try another dry hike (unless rain or snow accompanies us). Meet at the visitor center before 10 a.m.
The target for the day
Hikers in front of Desi's house and church (our former sheriff).
Marilyn enjoys the smooth "trail"
near the cross in the "little tree" forest
twisted Pinyon pine
Everyone made it to the cross
Is this a holey tree?
Enough of this lunch stuff; let's get on the way
There was snow on the mountain (Del Norte Peak). We'll go there in late June.
and down we go.
English Valley was our destination. Blue skies, volcanic rocks in many forms, and easy walking made a pleasant, warm day. Our numbers got up to 11, suggesting that more healthy people are hiking or that more healthy people like the Spring-like weather.
We did see a group of 9 antelope. We also saw the effects of last week's controlled burns of some of the terrain.
Next Monday at 10 we'll go somewhere with snow or without. Snow is predicted for Thursday, but who knows whether it will be deep enough for snowshoes.
10 hikers, one Piñon pine, several big "towers," and not much green yet.
One of the Valley's dramatic volcanic rocks
Seating for one
Linda says: "No lunch table here"
So--Stand up or lean for lunch
And then there's Marilyn. But she made it back somehow.
We'll try to treat you better next week.