Thursday, December 31, 2015

Local Outdoor Charitable Organizations Need Your Support

Galisteo Basin Preserve
End of the year has arrived, a good time to take inventory of what has passed and what can be improved upon. I'm big on the many outdoor gems we have in and around town and the organizations that make them work. Toward year end (this year it happens to be the final day), I like to highlight these groups, what they do, and how to help them improve and do more.

All the below are northern New Mexico tax-exempt 501(c)(3) organizations, meaning they depend heavily on public interest, volunteers, and contributed dollars. They're also great places to find rad people with shared interests; writers, photographers, conservationists, cyclists, CPAs. The 501(c)(3) designation also means that a contribution made today is eligible for a current year tax deduction and can likewise be accepted tomorrow, monthly, or any random day throughout the year on behalf of general do-gooderness and a sense of building one's community.

The two organizations that (far and away) provide the most improvements and volunteer days on our trails are The Santa Fe Trails Alliance (the volunteer arm of The Santa Fe Conservation Trust), and The Santa Fe Fat Tire Society. Both terrific groups that could use a Saturday of your time as well as your financial support. In a joint effort over the last two summers, these two groups along with the Santa Fe National Forest Service have installed at least five new bridges recently along the Winsor Creek. If you've used a trail in the Santa Fe area over the last 20 years (Rail Trail, Dale Ball, Arroyo Hondo), The Conservation Trust is who you want to give thanks and appreciation. The Commonweal Conservancy manages the trail system out at Galisteo Basin Preserve, and has been fundraising this year for support of the ongoing work at GBP.
SFCT and the Trails Alliance - Since 1993

As far as the running community and support for running programs and events in and around Santa Fe, the most active organizations are the Santa Fe Striders, Girls on the Run, and WINGS of America. Most of the overflow revenue generated by the Striders is directed to the latter two organizations so you might consider just contributing to them directly.

The Santa Fe Watershed Association has taken an active role in beautifying the Santa Fe River and in turn the Santa Fe River Trail which now includes several miles of trail with more planned for next year.

SFFTS - Since 2011

All of these organizations are setup to accept funds electronically via the links below. I'm certain they accept checks by mail or in person too. Make it a resolution for the new year to be part of a trail build workday, attend a planning meeting, or take a minute now to give one of these organizations a boost and do your part to support the outdoors in Santa Fe and northern New Mexico:

  1. Santa Fe Girls on the Run
  2. Santa Fe Trails Alliance and The Santa Fe Conservation Trust
       (also supported by the Banff Film Festival; La Tierra Torture, XTERRA Glorieta, 2nd Street Brewery)
  3. Santa Fe Fat Tire Society (via membership)
  4. The Commonweal Conservancy
  5. WINGS of America
  6. Santa Fe Watershed Association (manages the SF River Greenway)
  7. The Santa Fe Striders (via the button below)

Related Posts:
 - Drink Beer - Support Local Trails (and the SFCT)
 - Local Trail Improvement Updates - New Tab!
 - Trail Improvements to Winsor and Galisteo Basin

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Snorkeling Adventures in Grasshopper Canyon

Colors at dawn - Grasshopper Canyon
As of Saturday morning we’d received no snow for several weeks so I went out running in the canyons along Rowe Mesa, figuring they’d soon be snowed in for the season. Been trying to piece together a trail loop(s) out there on-and-off during the year. Explored a nifty new route along the east canyon rim (h/t Georges Malley) then dropped back into Grasshopper Canyon on the return. Was feeling pretty good about myself and my orientation skills and the beauty of the morning, I was maybe even a little bit euphoric as I bounded down canyon splashing through the creek. The thought surfaced for a moment that this feeling is often a big bright red-flag of crushed expectation, on par with false-summits when in the mountains. Of further concern was a troubling observation - I’d parked at the mouth of the canyon where there was a well defined trail, but no sign of trail existed along the section I was navigating. Maybe people don’t hike up this far? Maybe there be dragons?

Pinon and the sunrise
The canyon narrows dramatically before long and I stop to take photos of a few serene waterfalls. Hasn’t become obvious to me just yet, but wait for it...waaait for it...aaand the canyon is blocked by a cascade into a large pool. There are no hike-arounds. Bare rock climbs to more than 200ft on both sides. The easiest route by far is to just down-climb into the pool and wade out the other side however I really didn’t want to do this. It’s 7:45am, cold but not freezing, I’m not certain how far I am from the truck but to retrace my steps would be six difficult miles and I really didn’t want to do that, not least because I don’t carry water with me on shorter outings. The idea then was to scramble down the rock chute and avoid getting hurt while jumping into the pool. Cellphone under my stocking cap at this point I slide/hop into the water and discover the pool not to be waist deep but neck deep. I actually choke on a bit of creek water but my system is in cold shock and my only reaction is to frantically wade to the exit. Now out of the water I remain in shock because I’m completely soaked, and completely freezing, and standing at the bottom of a canyon near Rowe Mesa on a December morning before the sun has lifted above ridgeline. This is a below average situation.

The upper cascades
It’s a good thing I’m out running and (maybe) a good thing I’m alone and not responsible for dragging someone else through this alarming misfortune. A few hundred meters down-trail there’s another less dramatic looking pool to wade through. Disappointment arrives as I soon find the depth is again more than chest-deep. I bark my shin on an awkwardly placed log as I kick to the exit. Alright then, I’m now soaked and freezing for a second time and slightly horrified that there may be more swimming before I’m done (mercifully not so).

I make it to the truck before compounding my problems with the embarrassment of being seen by other hikers. Getting wet isn’t a big deal, however being frozen without the certainty of knowing where you are invites a small amount of panic.

Side canyon falls and foreshadowing
These unplanned moments of panic are often fascinating. You’re zipping along in a security-bubble and in a ‘blink’ everything within view suddenly harbors potential existential challenges. The shadows shift, the smallest change in conditions at this moment may create serious vulnerability, (rolled ankle plus wet & freezing would be bad, slip and fall bad, encounter with wildlife really bad). It’s a fleeting and mostly-safe peek of what waits on the other side of the line between the beauty of nature and its steely indifference. Make it back to the truck and these types of interludes seem to always make the beer taste better. Cheers then, to always making it back to the truck.

Related Posts:

Friday, December 11, 2015

MacAskill's Cascadia

Another brilliant video out from Danny MacAskill. Rooftop descents, drone sequences, masterful artistry and creativity in the Canary Islands.

Related Posts:
 - MacAskill Cycling Zen - The Ridge ('14)
 - MacAskill - Way Back Home ('12)
 - Ski Commuting British Columbia (JP Auclair 1977-2014)
 - Urban MTB Downhill - Taxco, Mexico ('14)

Saturday, November 28, 2015

Living History - Homes of Los Cinco Pintores

Irregular doorway at the Shuster House
If like me, your running or cycling takes you on the occasional rip down Canyon Rd or ascent of Camino Monte Sol, these waypoints pass right through much of Santa Fe's modern history. The roads are intimate and trail-like, the lighting is good, and there are several miles of fine art and architectural design for review and reflection. Along Camino Monte Sol itself, there are the literal homes of some of the artists that brought modernism to Santa Fe and established our capitol as a serious creative hub, and for a time this year nearly all of the original homes of Los Cinco Pintores were on the market in tandem.

The five pintores were Jozef Bakos, Fremont Ellis, Walter Mruk, Willard Nash, and Will Shuster, and four of the five were young and unencumbered enough when new to town that they set about building their own homes from adobe brick, right alongside one another on what would become Camino Monte Sol. None were trained in carpentry or architecture and as the stories go, the 'mud huts' they put up were not easily confused with works of fine art. One story has it that one of the men left his wall-in-progress to lend a hand in the construction of his buddy's wall across the way. He returned to find his own shoddy wall collapsed upon the ground and set about re-building it. Mruk didn't bother with this foolishness and instead bought Frank Applegate's original place nearby (Applegate being an artist and trained architect). Shuster's home is the easiest of the four to spot because it's adorned with his signature and a Zozobra painted mailbox. Mruk/Applegate's is the most impressive. All homes have been heavily refurbished, added to, and upgraded since their dubious foundations were first laid down. Charles Poling collected a nice summary of the Pintores homes, originally published in New Mexico Magazine.

Applegate/Mruk House
Applegate eventually sold to Mruk then bought and refurbished the Francisco de la Pena house down the way on El Caminito. The Thursday night run with the local (Striders) running group zips right by this hidden piece of history before climbing Camino Rancheros. De la Pena was a retired Mexican army sergeant who fought at the Battle of the Alamo then relocated to Santa Fe in the mid 1800's. The most recent owner of this amazing compound was gallery owner Gerald Peters. The Applegate/De la Pena house is also on the market and may be the most magnificent property I've ever visited in Santa Fe (via Showhouse SF this Oct).

Applegate - De la Pena Compound c. 1930s
Gustave Baumann, a personal favorite of mine, built his non-descript place just off of Old Santa Fe Trail around the same time as the others. His place, which was also recently on the market, has a distinctive GB inscribed keystone above the threshold along with several other decorative additions from the artist.(L, Baumann woodblock holiday card, R, Baumann House etching)

Fremont Ellis House 586 Camino del Monte Sol (c. 1922)
Jozef Bakos House 576 Camino del Monte Sol, (c. 1923)
Willard Nash House 566-568 Camino del Monte Sol, (c. 1922-23(?), also known as the Goodacre House) Walter Mruk House 558 Camino del Monte Sol, (c. 1921, original Applegate home)
Will Shuster House 550 Camino del Monte Sol, (c. 1922-23(?))

Gustave Baumann House 409 Camino de las Animas (c. 1923)
Applegate Compound 831 El Caminito (c. 1700's; also known as the Francisco de la Pena Estate)

Related Posts:
 - Street Art and the Painted Desert Project
 - Shepard Fairey's Newest Artwork
 - Not Seen on Treadmills - Scholder's Orange Dog
 - Art Filled Sky

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Ski Season Gets an Early Start - Santa Fe, NM

Quad Chair and Tesuque Peak with a 40' base of early season snow
Most New Mexico ski areas will open for Thanksgiving thanks to last week's giant storm. I got up to check conditions last Saturday and found them to be rather good. Good not just for mid-November but for mid-season. I'd found a sweet deal on climbing skins to use with an old pair of tele-mark skis I've had stored in the garage, and I got it all working and stomped my way up Open Slope to try them out. Worked like a charm though descending (as always) was a bit more trying. Though the snow coverage was great the ski trails were un-groomed (packed but chunky) and I flailed all the way down. Very enjoyable flailing though, and I was happy to see how easy it is to skin up a trail. In past years I've used my beefy nordic skis to track up the catwalks then tele-mark down. Climbing time with skins was nearly identical, ~25min from the base to the top-of-the-quad. A helmet is recommended for either option. Free-heeled skis can result in some fairly violent and uncontrolled crashes.

Conditions at NORSKI were hard to beat
There was a fair number of folks like myself climbing to ski. As I was heading down the mountain around 830ish, I saw what looked like dozens more skiers on their way up. People are excited.

I brought along my nordic setup just in case I'd failed sizing my skins or some other overlooked gear problem, and ended up skiing a loop at NORSKI where the snow was fantastic. I found three downed trees that have since been removed by the More-ski NORSKI organization. Had never heard of these guys but sounds like they're on top of things up there.

Hoping for a bit more snow to come along and really establish a lasting base of snowpack. Sounds like the northern areas may get a bit this weekend so we'll see if any of it carries south to our end of the Sangres.

Related Posts:
 - Santa Fe's New Ski Shuttle
 - Cross Country Skiing NORSKI trail
 - Santa Fe's First Snow of the Season - 2015
 - Ski Touring Deception Peak

View Norski Trail - Santa Fe, NM in a larger map


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