Finding a Good Hike for a Good Old Pair of Boots

1Today I went for a mountain hike with my almost sixteen year old son, and our exuberant and lovely dog. We were alone on the trail, and we both spent time reminiscing about all the time we’ve spent on the beautiful Italianos Trail. It was delightful to listen to my son remember his stories — that when he crossed the creek as a child the stones seemed impossibly big and scary to reach across. He remembered feeling sure that he would tumble into the cold water. But today his legs are so much longer, and the stones felt so small. Today, the crossing was so easy. Oh yes, the perspective that age brings.

We also commented on how much he has changed in that last thirteen years, and how the trail has changed so little. The caves are all still intact, the special trees, swimming spots. Yes, so much changes, and so much stays the same. Life is so much that way, and the older we get the more we notice the little things, and the big things. And truly all of it is so much sweeter. If we let it be.

Italianos Trail is familiar. It is like home in the mountains for us. We used to come here when he and his cousin were toddlers. We would bring friends here. I helped him learn how to hike, how to maneuver through the rocks and identify plants, bugs, and learn how to be in the mountains safely on this trail. Noitalianos2w as a teenager, my son is my hiking partner, my equal, stronger than me, with more endurance and strength, but still innocent in so many ways. I so appreciate this transition. He remembers the spot where his cousin fell into the creek, and the place where our friends got stuck in the creek when they were attempting to be adventurous.

Along the way, I realize that while he’s changed, I’m still hiking in the same boots that carried him on my back when he was a baby. He changes at such a fast pace, and I’m slower, in so many ways. He still can kick my butt on the trail. But in terms of self awareness, and shifting perspectives and adapting the changing world, youthfulness simply takes the fast 2lane easier. It is beautiful to watch, and to remember when I was more nimble, my body more flexible, requiring less thought to more through the world.

So I wear the same worn out, comfortable boots that taught him to jump across the creeks. The boots have taken me from my college days, to my son’s birth to his teen years. They have helped me forge new paths, and stay on well beaten ones. They are like good friends.

And as life transitions, we certainly need things that we depend on, even if it is just good old hiking boots.



Snow in a mountain town

WProcessed with Moldivhen it snows, I mean really snows, our little town totally changes. The atmosphere completely shifts. Our town often has an air of depression surrounding it, but when it snows, that lifts immediately and those snowflakes bring in a feeling of celebration that is palpable. For the last week, the snow has heralded a beautiful celebration in our town. People arrive ready to ski. Children and teens take off to the valley, boards and skis in hand ready to catch new powder. My son brags about the runs he and his friends will do before any tourists even get up the lift. I remember what it was like when I first moved here, before the drought really hit hard. I remember what it is like to live in a ski town. The community that happens when it arrives. I remember that I love snow.  The stories that arrive with the headline “massive snowstorm blankets Taos Ski Valley.”

I also remember that I love making soup, warming up my house and snuggling up with a novel. I prefer to ski after the crowds have gone. I finished two novels this week, and to me that is almost heaven. It is worth celebrating the powder in the ski valley — I get to read! I do a bit of celebrating in the snow too — shovel the drive, chase the dog around and build the snow fort, but I also like to take advantage of town closing down. I can truly hibernate for a bit and let myself sneak away into a good book. And that is a change for me.

However we enjoy the weather, inside or out, it is good to recognize the good. The ease at which we move into and through more than a foot of snow (more the three feet in the mountains). It is more deliberate, and joyful. It is more hopeful even. That certainly makes me hope for more snow!


Rounding up the summer at Bobcat Pass

Bobcat Pass 3To celebrate summer and the beginning of autumn, my family and I ventured up to a special spot near Red River on the Enchanted Circle for an evening of good food and good entertainment. At 10,000 feet at Bobcat Pass, there’s the Moreno Valley’s Cowboy Evening. There they serve you up a ribeye hot off the grill, fresh made beans, corn on the cob, biscuits and baked potatoes. There are covered wagons and cowboys. Lots of ’em too, cowboys that is. There stories and fiddlers, and those ribeyes are delicious. Coffee and cinnamon rolls for dessert.

The evening finishes up with two hours of cowboy music with Syd Masters and the Swing Riders. They share the legends of cowboy music, and do some fine playing too. They sang an infamous song (around here at least), a song he wrote called ‘Fryin Bacon in the Nude’ and more seriously, the New Mexico State song. My favorite is his rendition of an old Dean Martin song from, John Wayne’s Rio Bravo ‘My Rifle, My Pony and Me’. So lovely.

Cowboy evenings happen all summer at Bobcat Pass.  We were lucky enough to catch the grand finale this season. So mark your calendar for next year if you want to experience a little cowboy music in the northern New Mexico mountains. It is worth remembering.

Bobcat Pass 5

Bobcat Pass 1

Bobcat Pass 4

Raining in Fall

Autumn 4Every year as school starts, there is one event that really tells me that autumn is finally here. That one big rain that clears out the summer air and brings with it the crisp sweet smell of autumn. It always happens after school starts, usually the second or third week of September. When it arrives, we know it. It is not the afternoon sprinkle or hour-long shower that brings on the early evening rainbows. It is a real long steady, northern England kind of rain. And from it springs the blue autumn skies that one can only experience in northern New Mexico.

The autumn skies become the backdrop to the gold aspens and the snow cap on the mountains. The chilly October mornings bring in the most gorgeous weather one could imagine. It is my favorite time of year. The rain this year has been steady for two days now, and right now looks like it will keep on for another. The zinnias are perked up and the flax are taller, but I know it’s the beginning. And as the rain moves, on the dirt roads are full with ruts and washes. It is the best time for the mountains, good hiking, biking and running. We plan to pack our weekends with a few adventures before the snow sets in.

The conversations change too.  From flowers to harvest, canning and chopping wood. I pulled out a scarf yesterday and a long sleeve for the day.  My husband scoffed. It is too early for scarves. I simply smiled and wrapped my neck, feeling warmed as I went into the cold rain.

Yep, transitions are good.  And a bit bittersweet too.

Autumn 1

Autumn 2

Sunday morning walk to Petaca Point

DSC3392-300x200A short drive over Taos Junction Bridge and up a steep dirt road with several switchbacks to the West Rim of the Rio Grande Gorge will take you to the trailhead of Petaca Point Trail. Petaca Canyon is an easy four miles, along the rim of the Rio Grande Gorge. Because the trail runs along the ridge, the mesa grasses and flowers are beautiful, and the 360 views are amazing. The wind and sun can also be amazing, so early morning is the best time of day to take this walk.

The best part of this walk is exploring for petroglyphs. There are many along the rocks. Petaca means “case used to carry belongings when travelling” mostly tobacco or cigarettes. And it has been said that there is treasure hidden in the canyons along the Rio Grande. So we like to think that the travelers stashed their bags in the nooks along the Rio here. It is a good reason to explore. I don’t know if it has been said from a credible source or not, but it is credible enough to keep my husband and son exploring the rocks and canyons for years, so either way the “legend” is worth something in my family.

Located in the Rio Grande Recreation Area just down the hill from Taos. The trail is off the road from Pilar and the Taos Junction Bridge. It is a great morning hike–and the mud is fun too.

Petaaca Canyon 3

Petaaca Canyon 1

Petaacca Canyon 2

Petaaca Canyon 4


Sunset Project at Daylight Savings

Over the weekend the time of the sunset shifted by an hour. I adjusted by alarm to remind me to take my photograph. But I laughed because “sunset photo!” is becoming a part of our family evening. . . a family activity as we think about our evening walk or run, or part of our walk to the mailbox.

While it is not quite spring yet, and we had a big snow over the weekend, and it is beginning to feel like spring, and the snow is melting almost as quickly as its coming in. The mud is arriving with the warmth. So it seems a good time, with the time change, and the warming days, to re-cap the first few months of the Sunset Project.

The compilation of photos is beautiful. It reminds me of how beautiful my days are everyday.  It is so lovely to encounter such grandiose beauty each day, and such simpleness. Lucky me.

Here’s a few below, and if you want to see them all, check them out at Sunset Project.

Sunsets over Taos
Sunsets over Taos