Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Improvements to the Santa Fe Urban Trails System

The start (or ending point) of the Santa Fe Rail Trail at the Railyard Plaza
Santa Fe voters recently approved a second parks-and-trails bond measure to fund continued improvements to the city's growing urban trails system.

The system includes three main east-west alignments - the Santa Fe River Trail, the Acequia Trail, and the Arroyo Chamiso Trail - and the north-south alignment of the Santa Fe Rail Trail which intersects the other three.

The three east-west corridors will remain in progress for several years with planned extensions all the way out to NM 599 with connections north to the city soccer field complex in the Caja del Rio, and south to NM 14.

Trail descriptions and maps of these trail corridors are as follows:
      - Arroyo Chamisos Trail
      - Santa Fe Rail Trail
      - Santa Fe River Trail
      - The Acequia Trail, and

The new system is in addition to the area's hiking and biking recreation trails which include the Dale Ball Trails, the Winsor Trail System, La Tierra Trails, Arroyo Hondo, and the Galisteo Basin.

A total of $6 million from the most recent bond sale will be allocated for priority urban trail projects over the next few years. This new capital follows an initial $9 million in funding approved by voters in 2008, both specifically allocated to city trails and road-sharing projects.
arroyo chamisos trail sign
Arroyo Chamisos Trail

Funds were used to acquire the necessary easements and build out trail extensions for the Santa Fe River Trail and the new Acequia Trail west of St Francis Dr, as well as extend the Arroyo Chamisos Trail west to the Santa Fe Place Mall (via a new underpass at Rodeo Rd), and now east with access to the Gail Ryba Trail and Christus St. Vincent Hospital (via an underpass at St Francis Dr). The 2008 investment was nicely complemented by state and federal funding for the Santa Fe Rail Trail in conjunction with the construction of the New Mexico Rail Runner Commuter Train.

santa fe rail trail
Santa Fe County Rail Trail
The end result of this flurry of planning and investment is a new framework of paved multi-use trails within city limits. Beginning with the first few miles of the Arroyo Chamisos Trail in 1997, the system now includes four main trails anchored by the 17mi Rail Trail which connects them all. Really, really good stuff.

The Santa Fe Metropolitan Planning Organization (SFMPO) has mapped out priority lists for planned trail extensions, improvements, and bike-share corridors which include shoulder widening along some streets and lane striping. Of the new $6 million in funding, priority trail work will include the following:

  1. $2M for a planned underpass of the Santa Fe River Trail at Alameda and St Francis Drive. This is a key link along the River Trail that's really going to tie together the stretch of new trail to the west of St Francis (extending to Frenchy's Field at Osage and Agua Fria), to the older section that passes through downtown up as far as Delgado St. Updated Here: 
santa fe acequia trail
The Santa Fe Acequia Trail
  1. Completion of sections of the Rail Trail between St Francis Dr. and Alta Vista, along Pen Rd. and along the South Capitol Rail Runner Station.
  1. Extensions and improvements to the Acequia Trail which now stretches behind the New Mexico School for the Deaf (west of the Santa Fe Railyard) to Baca Rd and a trailhead island at Ashbaugh Park that currently goes nowhere. Planned improvements will extend the trail through Ashbaugh Park and Osage Ave. to Harrison Rd near the county boundary.
  1. Extension of the Gail Ryba Trail along St Francis Dr (which will soon be connected to the Rail Trail and Arroyo Chamisos Trail via underpass), east to Botulph Rd and East Zia Rd.
  1. Construction of another mile extension to the W. Arroyo Chamiso trail section as it slowly edges its way toward Cerrillos Rd and an eventual linkup with the larger E. Arroyo Chamisos Trail section.
    santa fe rail trail
    The Santa Fe Rail Trail
  1. Construction of a new multi-use trail along the Arroyo en Medio/Arroyo Chapparal in south Santa Fe, connecting Ragle Park to the New Mexico Rail Runner station at Zia Rd, as-well-as to the intersection of the Rail Trail, Arroyo Chamisos Trail, and Gail Ryba Trails. I don't know whether to be happy or sad about this one since the dirt footpath that runs through this open space now is where I begin most of my runs. I'll be just another victim of progress it seems, albeit super-rad progress.
  1. Construction of the proposed Sarah Williams Trail along the Canada Ancha and lower Hyde Park Rd, connecting the Dale Ball Trails at Sierra del Norte to Gonzales Rd, and a eventual connection to the planned (now completed) Gonzales Rd Pedestrian Trail stretching down to Alameda St. and the Santa Fe River Trail.
  1. Additional and improved bike lane striping on city streets, including the widening of shoulders in some locations. If you do a lot of commuting and getting around by bike - like myself and a growing group of other bikeys around town - this is important work that will get its fair share of use. 

santa fe botanical garden
 - Further details of the bond funded trail improvements can be found at the Trail Improvements Tab (above).
 - Additional info here at the City of Santa Fe website
 - A bit about the new St. Francis underpass and Gail Ryba Trail extension from  the Santa Fe New Mexican.
 - A bit about the new connector trail to Museum Hill and the Santa Fe Botanical Gardens from the Santa Fe New Mexican (left).

Related Posts:
 - Multi Use Trails Update (2014)
 - Arroyo Chamiso Underpass
 - Acequia Trail Underpass

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

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Banff Film Festival 2012 - Santa Fe

The Banff tour rocked a sold-out Lensic Theatre Wednesday night in support of the Santa Fe Conservation Trust. The 16th year the tour has come through Santa Fe. Pretty much all of the town's outdoor crowd were there to see the year's films, chatting it up and draining Pacificos before-hand and during intermission.

As always the short-films and photography were phenomenal. The evening's show started things off with a couple skiing shorts from Sherpa Cinema's feature length All.I.Can which I was familiar with. Lots of fun nonetheless.

Sometime mid-show there was a feature about the Canadian coastal wilderness in the path of a major proposed oil pipeline. The Great Bear Rainforest. Fantastic place, and a really impressive look at the effort of a team of photographers going to battle with big industry using the power of their images and public perception.

The evening closed with a fantastic short by Boulder's Peter Mortimer titled 'Sketchy Andy', featuring slack-line master-of-horror Andy Lewis doing ridiculous things on a tensioned slack-line. Think Dean Potter minus the zen, coupled with the deep ink-black insanity of the late Dan Osman. Cool stuff but the guy is clearly un-well.

Fun times. Motivated now to get out and get my own. The trails are calling.
Last year's best of Banff clips can be found here.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Santa Fe's Buffalo Thunder Half Marathon

Last fall was the inaugural running of the Buffalo ThunderHalf Marathon, the first large professionally sponsored road race to come to northern New Mexico in some time. The race is the brainchild of Santa Fe attorney Joseph Karnes, financial advisor Antonio Lopez, and educator Abraham Kosgei - all decorated runners and marathoners in their own right. The goal is to establish a destination running event in Santa Fe, possibly growing to the marathon distance race over the long term. Karnes has experience helping with the organization of the California International and Big Sur Marathons in California and he sees no reason why the same type of event can't be built here in Santa Fe with all the city has to offer as a vacation destination and sweet outdoor play-land.  

As might be expected, I'm fairly keyed-up about this new development. Just as Santa Fe's trails system is really coming together as a first-rate network it looks like we've suddenly landed a first-rate racing event on the roads. The timing is uncanny. Perhaps not coincidentally, IMBA has taken notice and will be hosting this year's Mountain BikeWorld Summit here in town. That sound you hear - is my face exploding.

So, we're psyched. But does the race show promise? I think it does. Last year's race drew a significant amount of interest and a sizable turnout of 700+ finishers. The organizing team hopes to double that number this year. Prize money and an active recruiting effort of local elites resulted in a stacked field up front. Champion Sam Kosgei ran to a wicked-fast time of 1:04:49 at 6500ft altitude. That is remarkably fast. It's no surprise that it is believed to be the fastest half marathon ever run in New Mexico. Meshak Kirwa ran second, and UNM All-American Rory Fraser finished two minutes back in third. The remaining top ten was rounded out by local road racing pros including Pat Kiptum, Bernard Langat, and three time Quad Cities Marathon champ Andrew Musava. Super-Mike Ehrmantraut held on for top trail-runner's honor in 12th. Hi-fives for my man Mike. 

Kosgei at the line - courtesy of Max Mujynya

Ashley Quintana out on the course - Max Mujynya

In the womens race, champ Atalelech Asfaw blazed to a 1:15:55 finish, over three minutes clear of the womens field and good enough for 11th overall. Former NCAA star Kay Ulrich of Los Alamos claimed runner-up honors in 1:19:23. San Francisco Marathon champ Emily Field of Nambe grabbed the final podium spot a minute back. Emily is coached by race founder Abraham Kosgei.

The fleet-footed Uffe Schwender lights up near the finish - Max Mujynya

Dr. Joe Vigil presenting an award to the indomitable Vin Kelley - Max Mujynya

What then can be expected in the event's sophomore year? A lot more awesomeness apparently. Early planning for the September 2012 race includes a Saturday Athletes Expo at the Convention Center, the involvement and corporate financial backing of Nike N7 and Whole Foods Market, appearances from VIP guest and 1964 Olympic 10,000m Champion Billy Mills as well as Nike-sponsored pro Alvina Begay of the Navajo Nation. I've been told to look for the half-page race advertisement in the upcoming May issue of Runners World Magazine. It will be exciting to watch this event get off the ground.

Related Posts:
  - 2012 Buffalo Thunder Half - A Brief Meeting with Billy Mills

View Santa Fe to Buffalo Thunder Half Marathon in a larger map

Overall Name
Finish Pace
1 Sam Kosgei 1hr 4m49s 4:57
2 Meshack Kirwa 1:06:10 5:03
3 Rory Fraser 1:06:45 5:06
4 Jonathan Ndambuki 1:08:01 5:12
5 Jacob Kirwa 1:08:47 5:15
6 Simon Sawe 1:08:49 5:15
7 Patrick Kiptum 1:11:08 5:26
8 Josphat Ndeti 1:11:49 5:29
9 Andrew Musava 1:15:35 5:46
10 Bernard Langat 1:15:51 5:47
11 Atalelech Asfaw 1:15:55 5:48
12 Michael Ehrmantraut 1:17:22 5:54
13 Eugene Hogue 1:17:30 5:55
14 Stuart Gillespie 1:17:46 5:56
15 Kay Ulrich 1:19:23 6:04
16 Scott Valdez 1:19:35 6:05
17 Nicholas Martinez 1:19:53 6:06
18 Emily Field 1:20:38 6:09
19 Aaron Padilla 1:21:12 6:12
20 Roy Collins 1:21:24 6:13 

Womens  Overall Name
Finish Pace
1 Atalelech Asfaw 1hr15m55s 5:48
2 Kay Ulrich 1:19:23 6:04
3 Emily Field 1:20:38 6:09
4 Tanya Collins 1:26:01 6:34
5 Sara Wagner 1:27:21 6:40
6 Linsey Sandoval 1:27:44 6:42
7 Liz Turner 1:27:50 6:42
8 Ashley Quintana 1:31:56 7:01
9 Jennifer Steketee 1:33:59 7:10
10 Shannon Zanelli 1:34:24 7:12

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Enchanted Forest Ski Trails - Red River, NM

The ski lodge at Enchanted Forest
The prognosticators are saying we will get at least one more pass of winter weather before Spring arrives for good, 4"-8" of fresh cold stuff predicted for the mountains this evening. So, before the skis are ceremoniously stowed away for next season I thought it would be appropriate to highlight a recent trip up to Enchanted Forest ski area with Todd and John. If you're looking for a last round of spring ski runs you'd be hard pressed to find a better place in northern New Mexico.

Owners Geoff and Ellen Goins have done an admirable job of building this nordic ski and snowshoeing destination a couple miles east of Red River, which sits about 12mi east of Questa, which sits about 30mi north of Taos. Such is the reason I hadn't visited before now, but the trip is well worth the drive. This is the best nordic skiing in northern New Mexico. Beginning from the full service ski lodge, 20mi of groomed and tracked trails fan out under cover of pine forest. Additional signed and mapped trails exist for snowshoeing and hiking with the dogs. It's a pretty well laid out place. 

Over and through miles of trail

The Captain cresting a hill
Intersection with the snowshoe system
The fellas and I had picked up complimentary ski passes at the Chama Chile Ski Classic in January, which provided all the incentive we needed to make this trip. I get a fair amount of flak from these two for bailing on group downhill days in favor of my early morning xc sessions, but on this day it was those two clumsily free-heeling along while I powered around on my skate-ski setup exploring all of the fantastic groomed track. We kept to the easy and moderate trails and saw several groups enjoying the favorable ski conditions we've had this year. Saw a few deer too, wondering what we were up to in their neck of the Carson forest.

One section of the trail system affords clear views of the upper Red River valley and the saddle between Wheeler Ridge and Gold Hill. I had stood up on that same ridge (in these same skis!) not three weeks before, looking down into this valley wondering what on earth was down here. Wouldn't you know it if it wasn't miles of heavenly ski tracks gliding through the woods. How's that for an unexpectedly cheers-worthy coincidence? I'll take more of that please.

The lower Wheeler Ridge from a distance
Dude and trail
A major benefit of the drive to Taos is the increasing number of micro-breweries in the area. We chose Eske's Pub for an apres-ski stop over the Taos Ale House and the Blue Heron Brewery in Embudo. Nothing quite completes a day on skis like stories with friends over a beer.

Eske's, a Taos establishment

Enchanted Forest Ski Area: Day passes $7-15, ski and snowshoe rentals available as well as waxing and tuning services. Seasonal events include the Low O2 Challenge NM Nordic Cup, national snowshoe race qualifier, ski and snowshoe clinics, and moonlight tours. There are even overnight yurt accommodations offered in a backcountry setting several miles up-trail (reservations required). 

See also:   
 - Area Nordic Trails Listing

View Larger Map

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Salida Colorado's Run Through Time Trail Marathon

Botas on the initial climb. Collegiate Peaks in tow.
Salida’s spring Trail Marathon was this last weekend. I know this because my Google Reader has been feeding me a steady flow of race reports. The peculiar timing of this run simply doesn’t fit with my work commitments but my man Boots has been lining up the last couple years, and now that the results are posted I can see he did so again this year. He’s a new father so I thought that life may have slowed him down some, but this doesn’t appear to be the case. A strong 12th place finish for one-half of Team Hobo, one placing back from last year but with a speedier time over a more winterized course. Defending champ Timmy Parr wasn’t too far up the trail it seems. Very well done sir. I guess I'm buying at the next get together.

More about the race then. Salida's a terrific early season trail-run that in the past has brought a lot of folks up from New Mexico. Steve and Deb Pero repped the northern NM crew this year. Steve had a big day, laying claim to an age-group title. Waltz, Crone, and Halladay were up last year. For a small out of the way race that has no awards budget it also brings out a fair number of pros. Defending Jemez 50 champ Nick Clark came down from Fort Collins to claim this year’s bragging rights. Nick was edged out by Parr for the win last year. Word had it that Nederland’s Geoff Roes was fueling with Pabst Blue Ribbon at the aid stations last year, getting his legs under him for the long racing season ahead. There’s not a lot about this race that I would find hard to like. 

At the front on the snowier sections - photo: N. Clark, Rocky Mtn Dirt Running (2010)

Finishing statistics for the Nuevo Mexico contingent

Overall Name Age Sex Home Time
14 Jacob Lawrence 30   M Albuquerque 3hrs43min
46 Mark Porter 35   M Los Alamos 04:34.2
65 Vlad Henzl 33   M Los Alamos 04:55.4
69 Steve Pero            60   M Jemez 04:58.4
91 Lynette Padilla-Orpinel       36   F Los Lunas 05:20.1
105 Kevin Zelechoski 35   M Jemez Springs 05:43.4
118 Deb Pero 57   F Jemez Springs 06:00.3
119 Nalisha Johnson 30   F Los Alamos 06:03.4
135 Susan Gardner 47   F Albuquerque 06:45.5

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Running Plus Snow Equals Awesome - Dorothy Stewart Trail

I looked out my window yesterday and saw snow, and that got me back into my running shoes. An easy three miles through the arroyos. I hadn’t run in so long the chronometer on my watch still reads my time from New York (Nov.). Both funny and sad. 

After some work at the office I saw that the foothills were still socked in with cloud, so I excitedly jumped back into the shoes and headed up for an evening loop of the Dorothy Stewart Trail. Nothing beats running in snow (and fog!). They ought to charge admission for this but I see only one other set of tracks on the trail, practically criminal. After steep climbing to gain the ridge, I catch my breath and take in this last bit of winter. Darkness falls and I push happily along my way, exchanging knowing high-fives with the many snowy pine-branches welcoming me back.

Distance: 5mi roundtrip

Starting Elevation: 7,200ft
Max Elevation: 7,900ft
68min car-to-car. Can be run in under 55min in decent conditions. Snow and darkness will add significant minutes but pay you back with brilliant fun and adventure.

Ponderosa overpass

A solitary friend in space-time

The ridge trail

Dorothy Stewart's six-and-a-half switchback hill (Talaya Hill) in silhouette
Snow at switchback seven

City lights

Man with headlamp

Trailhead and snow with city beyond

View Dorothy Stewart Ridgeline Trail in a larger map

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Skiing the Valles Caldera

There's some winter trekking to be had up at the Valles Caldera National Preserve but until now I hadn't had much luck capitalizing on it. The Valles quietly offers a large selection of groomed nordic trails and snowshoeing throughout the western end of the vast Valle Grande (weather permitting). The Desert Babe and I made it up this last weekend for the moonlight-ski. Surprised to see how many people were up there although most were snowshoeing, for shame. The snow was in good shape and it was a clear cold windless magnificent evening, stars ablaze in a moonlit valley of snow.

A large bonfire was burning outside the Staging Area Cabin for folks who were returning or just setting out. Skiers were asked to check-in inside and log what route we were taking in the case we didn't return! Yessir, I think I could grow to like this kind of skiing. In reality, it would have been mighty hard to get yourself lost out there. The trails were flagged and groomed for classic skiing. Some skating was possible but the track was chewed up and uneven from multi-use. We followed a two mile loop around Cerro Jara, with side trails leading out to Missing Cabin as well as anywhere-you-might-care-to-venture seeing as there were few immediate features or trees to contend with. Maps show 37mi of trail mostly limited to day-access of which 'almost 80%' are groomed for skiing and snowshoeing.

At the staging area

winter ghosts

The Desert Babe with stars

Desert Babe in light
Apres-ski warming hut

Our time was spent mostly star-gazing. Another skier told us that five planets were visible in the sky that night. One great big snow park, hemmed in by mountains and the heavens above. Looking west we could make out crispy treelines on the hills above Conchas where last summer's historic fire burned south toward Cochiti and Los Alamos. It all seemed very temporal from the caldera of an ancient volcano staring up at balls of gas and fire tracking slow orbits through our universe.

Los Alamos area Nordic Trails:
Valles Caldera - Valle Grande Staging Area:  Four miles of groomed trails in the Preserve. Fri-Sun 9am-5pm and special events. Fees are $10, $8 for children or seniors. Maps available at sign-in. 37 miles of trails track throughout the Valle, although snow conditions are best on the west side. The Staging Area is two miles north of the Main Gate at Highway 4 mile marker 39. (Caldera Map .pdf)

Coyote Call Trail:  Four miles of non-groomed skiing overlooking Valle Grande from the south. Trailhead and parking on the east side of Highway 4 at mile marker 41 (~1.5mi east of the Main Gate). No fees.

Canada Bonita Trail at Pajarito:  Six miles of classis and freestyle ski track adjacent to the Pajarito Ski Area, feverishly maintained by the Southwest Nordic Ski Club. Also known as SWNSKI trails and Guaje Canyon Trail, these trails are specially permitted by the National Forest during the winter for nordic skiing. Nearby track accommodates miles of snowshoeing and multi-use activity. Donations or club membership suggested (at the trailhead).

See also:   
 - Area Nordic Trails Listing

Friday, March 2, 2012

Jared Campbell trail-running/climbing/skiing Mt Olympus, UT

I haven't been out on the trails much lately, but when my mind wanders I see visions of grandeur that look something like this. La Sportiva runner Jared Campbell crushes the west slabs of Salt Lake's Mt Olympus. Running like this makes laps on Atalaya Mountain seem like a recovery run.

Rob Zombie assists on the sweet ski-glissade descent.


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