Sunday, July 8, 2018

Where to Hike when New Mexico Forests are Closed?

The forests have been closed for the last 5 1/2 weeks due to extreme fire danger, though the Santa Fe National Forest plans to re-open tomorrow (July 9). The Carson National Forest and most of the Cibola National Forest districts have been closed as well. Where to hike and where to camp when all is shut down? Many hours were spent thinking through this problem and I reason it's a good tool for the next go around to share what I've found.

One of the premier underrated hiking trails in town is Canyon Road after sundown. No people, few cars, incredible back-lit windows framing rooms awash in color and artistry. Stop for a drink at the bar of your choosing before the return trip. Solitude, beauty, introspection - checks all the boxes. A more practical underrated trail for morning-folk is along the Santa Fe River from Delgado to Palace Ave. This route parallels Canyon a block to the north, is a true trail, and follows the river which often has at least some trace of water and murmuring current (present status: dry). At its mid-point the trail fords a rickety bridge-crossing to the new promenade along Alameda and a footpath will bring you back down along riverside. Stop at the Teahouse on Palace for coffee and pastry (available to go) then slow-walk back via trail or the morning gallery aesthetic on Canyon. We live in a nice town, it's a joy to take in this gem of a loop. Less creative alternatives are Arroyo Hondo and La Cieneguilla.

Where to camp? Those besides myself that were sifting available options surely realized this required deeper thinking, namely as to what land is managed by which public agency. Most state parks remained open through the closure, Hyde Park and Fenton Lake excepted. Cerrillos Hills and La Cieneguilla state parks are day-use only. Villanueva state park along the Pecos was on my tick list but availability was limited on weekends. All of the Caja del Rio was closed (National Forest). Chama river, closed (National Forest).

Mrs. Dirt, strolling riverside on the footpath
Bandelier backcountry and wilderness area were closed, though camping remained open at the Juniper and Ponderosa campgrounds. Much of the value of Ponderosa was limited in that the nearby Upper Crossing Trail was closed. BLM is federal land but managed by each state which meant that BLM remained open. Local BLM access includes Diablo Canyon where the camping at the few developed spots was open. Access to the nearby Rio Grande however was closed (National Forest). The Rio Grande Gorge and Rio Grande del Norte National Monument were the most extensive outdoor areas open during the closure (BLM). Wider afield, the wilderness areas west of Albuquerque remained open as did the Sabinoso wilderness east of Vegas. Pecos, San Pedro Parks, and Sandia wilderness areas were all shuttered for the reason that all three are within the boundaries of either the Santa Fe or Cibola National Forests.

My last note here really ought to reinforce the underlying point of all this: Don't use fire in the forests. Don't scavenge for wood, don't pack in logs, don't burn things when surrounded by thousands of acres of latent fuel. Campfires in the backcountry are unnecessary and harbor the potential for catastrophic damage to the forests and watersheds. Be a good steward, change your habits if you haven't already.

Related Posts:
 - The Borrego Fire: Nambe Creek - TR 160
 - Scouting New Mexico Running Trails by Plane
 - Santa Fe Forest Closed for Fire Season (c. 2013)
 - The Santa Fe River Trail

Monday, January 15, 2018

2018 New Mexico Outdoors Calendar

West Rim Trail
The calendar has flipped and the 2018 Event & Outdoors Calendar has now been brought up-to-date (see Tab at page top^). Most of the year's early season events have been pushed back in hopes of snow, we'll see if the storms are late to arrive or pass us by.

The U.S. Indoor Track & Field Championships is back for another go at the Abq Convention Center. Love this event so much. One season-changer finds the fledgling Outside Bike & Brew event here in Santa Fe jumping from May into early September.

Big additions to the calendar or events that have ceased operations? None that come directly to mind. Announcements or listings welcome at highdesertdirt at gmail dot com.

Related Posts:
 - 2018 Outdoors Calendar
 - 2017 Outdoors Calendar
 - 2016 Outdoors Calendar
 - 2015 Outdoors Calendar
 - 2013/2014 Outdoors Calendar

Wednesday, November 29, 2017

The Nascent Rio Grande Trail Project

In an effort to design and build-out a statewide recreation trail with the vision and function of similar trails in neighboring states - i.e. The Colorado Trail, The Arizona Trail, Continental Divide Trail - state lawmakers established a Rio Grande Trail commission during the 2015 legislative session. The broad outline here would be for a multi-purpose rec trail running north-south along the Rio from Colorado to Texas.

There's a lot of private holdings in this alignment as well as significant Pueblo land throughout the valley so the expectation I'm guessing is that this will be a decades long effort which will likely have several gaps among long sections of contiguous trail over public land. This would still be a very favorable outcome compared with current status. The project also adjoins state and county resources to the small volunteer groups that build trail (generally mtb riders and hikers).

Currently there's a block of federal funding directed toward gathering public opinion, rec-user preferences, and other ideas for how people envision use of such a trail system as well as stuff that would add or detract from the trail experience. A very cool website has been setup for this purpose, a Virtual Open House, where you can read more about the RGT big picture and contribute your own ideas and opinion toward what this thing ought to look like. The ending date is December 11th.

Go there and add your voice to this beauty of a project.
Rio Grande Trail - Virtual Open House (until Dec 11, 2017)

Related Posts:
 - West Rim Trail - Taos, NM
 - Acequia Trail Underpass Groundbreaking
 - Bandelier National Monument and Lummis Canyon

Monday, November 20, 2017

UNM Lobos Top the NCAA XC Podium for a 2nd Time

Lobos champion 7; Prouse, Kurgat, Kelati, Buck, Casey,
Negròn Texidor, Wright
The UNM Women rolled to both the National NCAA XC team and individual titles this past weekend. Ednah Kurgat claimed the individual crown, All-American honors to the team's first four runners. The team title is the Lobo's 2nd in 3 years, and 3rd podium finish in the last 4 years, and collectively totals 8 top-ten finishes over the last 10 years.

The team was ranked 2nd going into championship weekend behind Colorado. The title hinged on the effort of their fifth scoring runner, Alondra Negròn Texidor, who crossed the line in 85th place securing the winning margin.

UNM Women's Cross Country Wins 2017 NCAA Title

1. UNM Lobos (ranked 2nd nationally): 90 points
2. San Francisco (ranked 3rd nationally): 105 pts
3. Colorado Buffs (top ranked): 139 pts

Related Posts:
 - Lobo Cross Country Continues Elite Run at NCAAs (Nov. '16)
 - New Mexico's Newest Olympic Hopeful (Jun. '16)
 - UNM Lobos Crushing It (Mar. 13)

Friday, November 10, 2017

Trail Access Finally Comes to Glorieta

Long talked about and now finally in motion, the Glorieta Camps trails (formerly the Baptist Conference Center) will soon be available to public access via a newly constructed trail routing around the Campus to the southeast.

Working in tandem with Glorieta Camps, Santa Fe County, and IMBA, the Santa Fe Fat Tire Society has the lead on this project and is asking for trail work volunteers as well as contributions to fund the work, setting a goal of $2,500 (nearly half funded as of Nov 10). - Contribute Here -

Continuing work on the access trail is scheduled for this Sun Nov 12, 9am SHARP at the Glorieta Camps main gate.
..."We'll be working on building more of the Glorieta Access trail. We got over 1/2 of the initial section built 2 weeks ago and will be working on the rest. We'll work until around noon, have some lunch, and then ride the great trails at GC. Another sunny day, with a high forecast for mid-50's. SFFTS will provide all the tools needed for the trail work."

A map of the Glorieta system via Strava heatmap. Glorieta Camps at the center there with various trails branching out and up. The orange route tracing a north-south boundary to the east is the road up to the fire lookout and to access the descents.

UPDATE: The funding for this trail project came through in a big way: $3,045 in total which exceeds the goal amount by +25% and was the top funded project of the 68 proposed projects of this year's IMBA Dig In campaign. Very well done to the good folks at SFFTSociety.

Related Posts:
 - Drink Beer: Support Local Trails
 - Santa Fe Watershed Assoc's new Arroyo Project
 - Local Outdoor Charitable Organizations Need Your Support


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