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 by Tom Miller)

Note:  I recently received an email from artist Tom Miller asking that I include a credit with his work (Baumann home etching, above). Miller - 'I did it (the etching) when I was living in Santa Fe for two years, in 2015/2016. It was completed at Argos studio in Santa Fe, a wonderful studio and gallery up by Dulce and Body. It's worth a visit'. 

I generally make it a point to include credits when possible with re-published images. Often I pull from Google Images which provides no source. Support our artists, credit their work, invest in their efforts.
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

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Santa Fe's New Ski Shuttle - 2015

courtesy of The Santa Fe Reporter
Although the season's first snow arrived in the mountains three weeks back, this year's much hyped El-Nino-fueled ski season is only now at our doorstep. Can't say I was the only one roaming REI this weekend looking to upgrade gear and compare lift pass deals.

Right, so this winter also marks the rollout of the city's first mountain ski shuttle. Often discussed through the years, never seriously planned or proposed due to the problem of funding. In a continuing effort to promote Santa Fe as more of an outdoor destination the funding problem has been overcome via a patchwork of dollars sourced from the city, county, RTD, and Ski Santa Fe itself. Planners are expecting 11,000 trips during the winter season and hoping demand for the shuttle can support it's viablity for future seasons.

So I ask myself, would I use the shuttle? I think so particularly if I wanted to ski a few more runs and Mrs. Dirt wanted to head home early. I could also see myself riding up with the nino who could appreciate the whole thing as an adventure. As a kid of the '80s we would have loved this shuttle. Many of us would be dropped off by our parents on lower Artist Rd on weekends where we'd hitch to the top. At the end of the day we'd often ski Big Tesuque down to the campground, throw snowballs at the fleets of Baptist Church group vans, then hitch down to Ft. Marcy where we'd lineup and call our parents on the pay phone. My guess is that this shuttle will be used heavily by those who can't drive (kids) and those visiting from out of town. I'm optimistic it will work.

The Mountain Trail Shuttle, as it is officially named, has planned stops in town and all along Hyde Park road including most trailheads (w/ the exception of Borrego and NORSKI), and including Ten Thousand Waves. The RTD website shows there's an app to track shuttle location, here, however I'm seeing that the 255 Mountain Shuttle hasn't yet been added (as of Nov 17) and I have no idea how well this might work. The ride schedule shows three planned weekday trips, and seven on weekends. Best parking options are Fort Marcy at Murales Rd (next to the Zozobra kick-stand), and Dale Ball at Sierra del Norte. Bikes won't be accommodated for the time being which people are griping about, but I mean it's winter - there's a lot of snow about, so if that's your thing than Winsor MTB ascents will remain part of the deal.

Cost looks to be $5 per trip (each way), with corresponding discounts provided by both Ski Santa Fe and Ten Thousand Waves. Meaning that lift passes for shuttle riders will be discounted $5 at the top with proof of ridership, and stops at the Waves on the way down appear to have the same benefit. Apres ski for the win (I'm looking at you Izanami).

Mountain Trail Shuttle stops_.pdf
Schedule and pickup map
Mountain Trail Shuttle Details
Shuttle Tracker app

Update (6.30.16):
Winter ridership in the mountain shuttle's pilot program totaled approx. 5,000. Considered 'very successful' per the SFCounty Economic Development Director. Funding and operation of the shuttle will continue in the 16-17 winter season, and bike racks will be installed for the summer season July 1 - Aug 31. SFNewMexican Article (6.30.16)

Related Posts:
 - Santa Fe's First Snow - 2015
 - Trading the Downhill Skis for Nordic
 - French Alps Freeskiing - Candide Thovex

Tuesday, November 3, 2015

Santa Fe's First Snow of the Season - 2015

First snow with the last of the Fall's aspens, Oct 21, 2015, courtesy Clyde Mueller for the SF New Mexican
A bit late with this but we've tracked the mountains' first snow fall each year back to 2010 so we're not going to let an out of state wedding and Halloween holiday break our streak. Snow fell in the high-country on Wed. and Thr. of our last big storm (Oct 21, 22). As much as 9" was reported by folks that made it up to play. More snow followed with accumulation last Friday (Oct 30). I happened to witness the year's first snow while driving through Flagstaff, AZ. Snow on Humphries towering north of town.

The timing this year lined up well with last weekend's Ski swap. As can be seen from the previous 1st-Snow dates below we're right about at the median date this year. Folks at every party and get together I've been at the last few weeks are all talking snow and skiing. There's a good snow vibe out there and hopefully it will carry through in the weeks preceding the Holidays.

Related Posts:
 - Santa Fe's First Snow 2014 - Oct. 21st
 SFe's First Snow 2013 - Oct. 12th
 - SFe's First Snow 2012 - Nov. 16th
 - SFe's First Snow 2011 - Sep. 10th
 - SFe's First Snow 2010 - Nov. 10th

Friday, October 30, 2015

Grizzly Ghouls From Every Tomb...

Halloween, monsters, ghouls, and all things that knock and rumble in the dark. This year's batch of chilling ghost stories are up at Best read in the shadows of night - with storms and wind unfettered in the darkness just beyond the curtained windows. Is something peering in? Lurking in the cold, with vacant eyes and maddened grin? Perhaps there is. For All Hallows Eve dawns once more.

Related Posts:
 - Something Wicked (2014)
 - Trick-or-Treat (2011)

...are closing in to seal your doom.

Sunday, October 18, 2015

Raven's Ridge - Pecos Wilderness Boundary

An interesting and insightful discussion took place this week in the mtb community regarding cycling on Raven's Ridge and areas above the radio towers to the south. The towers sit on Tesuque Peak, on bike or foot you can follow a faint (unsigned) trail north to Deception Peak, then descend west down Raven's Ridge to the wilderness gate on Winsor. Raven's is a steep and technical descent, hike-a-bike in places. The volume of bike traffic in such a difficult area is in dispute but may be a side discussion to the greater concerns of environmental impact and wilderness mandates.

Treeline on Deception Peak. Will Wissman photography and Mellow Velo graphic
Of note was the condition of the current trail, the fact that the trail actually wanders across the wilderness boundary in several places and is therefore not technically bike-appropriate, and references the illegal tree cut north of the ridge that has been in the paper recently. There were several vigorous defenses of mtb trail access, most notably by Brent Bonwell who has taken lead on most if not all of the new bridge crossings along the Winsor over the last couple years.

Several comments discussed the need for a national forest trail other than the service roads to the top (Aspen Vista, and Sunset), or Raven's which is quite technical and apparently off-limits to bikes in sections due to wilderness designation. Lack of signage was brought up, a constant and ubiquitous problem with area trails and access issues (see Deception Peak ridge trail above).

A fascinating and enlightened discussion by all. Recommended.

Google Groups - Fat Tire Society

Related Posts:
 - Trail Running Santa Fe Baldy and the Three Peaks
 - Ski Touring Deception Peak
 - Explorations in the Pecos - Nambe Creek Trail-160
 - The Columbine Hondo Wilderness Addition - Taos/Red River

Monday, September 7, 2015

Santa Fe Rail Trail Improvements - Updated

Kid is my co-pilot
The Rail Trail’s transformation from footpath to transportation infrastructure appears to be moving along. Phases two and three of the recent engineering improvements, a five mile section from the Spur Trail to Nine Mile Rd then on to Avenida Vista Grande in Eldorado, are just now nearing the end of nine months of work. The most notable addition is the new trailhead at Nine-Mile Rd including a built-out underpass of the tracks. Many of the previously straight sections along the trail now curl and meander through trees. I'm a fan.

The trail has been undergoing re-alignment, re-surfacing, and erosion protection over the last several years, all part of a long-term effort of the NM Dept of Transportation who manages the railroad easements in partnership with Santa Fe County and SFCounty Open Space who manage the trail. The first improvement phase from Rabbit Rd to the Spur Trail (~1.5mi) was completed in 2013. Parking and trailhead reconstruction went in the year before that. There's another three phases of trail work planned out to the junction with Highway 285. Phase four would complete improvements through Eldorado. The last two miles of the rail into Lamy are privately owned and no trail exists there. Funding for this long term trail work sources from county gross receipt taxes and federal highway administration grants.

The new alignment at Nine-Mile Rd, passes under the trestle
From Nine-Mile down to the trestle
New erosion armoring

Sunflowers and meanders
Realignment and clouds

Related Posts:

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

Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Acequia Trail Underpass Scheduled this Fall

Artist's rendering of the new underpass. Much larger than the Zia Rd crossing.
The final public meeting for the Acequia Trail Underpass was held last night. Groundbreaking for the project is expected in as soon as 6-8 weeks. Construction of the entire project is expected to take approx. 9 months, with a focus on completing the tunnel and disrupting traffic on St. Francis much quicker than this. Unlike many Santa Fe developments, this is a project that directly benefits those that live here. It bears remembering that the construction of St Francis Drive back in the 60's divided neighborhoods and projects of this sort begin to bind them together once again.

The meeting was an open house that drew the regular crew of cyclists, urban planners, and grumpy neighbors to discuss the project with the designer and city park and trails managers. Part of the project design was completed by local landscape architect Solange Serquis whom entertained my many questions. I was especially fond of her use of trees and rock work to lighten up what has always been a sad and dusty intersection. Unusually, several city councilors were in attendance (Bushee, Lindell, possibly Rivera) though I didn't get a minute to chat. Wasn't certain if they were there to be seen as part of such a large non-motorized infrastructure project or perhaps to get a feel for the public mood of such an undertaking.

Cross section view of traffic overhead, the underpass, and east/west entrances
This major piece of the city's urban trail network has been in planning for at least seven years if not longer. Dozens of public meetings led to this point. Big discussions three years back focused on whether the transportation link should be an overpass or underpass, with many elected officials advocating for a more visible, possibly iconic overpass at the city's busiest intersection. The majority of trail users backed the practicality and ease of use of an underpass (a no-brainer in my opinion). The two valid criticisms of the project at this time were user safety (minimized with several lighting and design elements), and the price tag. Cost estimates were large enough that the underpass was designated a non-priority project in the city's transportation plan with maybe an 8-12 year time horizon. This was until a $3.8m federal grant came through last fall and suddenly the largest and most visible non-motorized transportation project in the city's plans was green-lit. The incoming federal dollars equate to $7 in matching funds for each $1 of invested city funding for this project. Or when compared with the $15m in city voter approved trail bonds since 2008, this sum equals a direct return on public trails infrastructure investment of 25%. This is a straight up coup, and whomever wrote up that grant application deserves free drinks and several million hi-fives.

The overview drawings. Railyard Park at right. 
Well then, exciting times and lots to think about. Will the project be complete for next year's May Bike-and-Brew event? Unlikely I suppose. Will complaints from the pending construction traffic be loud and bellicose? Undoubtedly, but this would surely be the case for any road construction anywhere in town for any reason. In return for a few months of traffic cones the planned improvements will be of use for generations of Santa Feans. Will this project lead to more private investment and revitalization in nearby neighborhoods and/or along the nearby St. Francis and Cerrillos corridors? I'd assume yes. How soon until an underpass is feasible along the Santa Fe River Trail at Alameda? I'd guess it's a ways out unless another generous federal grant were to come along to grease the skids.

Update: Trail project delays run into Spring of '16

Related Posts:
 - Acequia Trail Underpass Funding (2014)
 - Arroyo Chamiso Underpass (2012)
 - Area Trail Improvements Page
 - Improvements to the Santa Fe Urban Trail System (2012)

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

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Greatest Dad Wins

Been developing some mad dad skillz of late. The kid and I bike the RailTrail out to Eldorado, practice beisbol in the yard, practice beisbol at the track, discuss the cool comic heros/villains, and watch the track World Champs on the computer. He knows who Leo Messi is, Clayton Kershaw, and Mike Trout.

Turns out there's a whole other level of dad-game I was unaware of. Credit to the Desert Babe for finding this montage of dads casually preventing tragedies while not toppling their drinks. Much to aspire to here. Napping back-handed infant-save dad is good but there's an argument to be made for out-of-nowhere almost bike crash into parked-car-save dad for the win. Carry on gentlemen.

Related Posts:
 - Family Addition (Aug 1, 2012)
 - French Alps Freeskiing - Candide Thovex
 - Cobra Kai Sensei was a Dick

Saturday, August 1, 2015

La Luz Trail Run - 2015

50th Annual race up La Luz tomorrow. Amazing. The list of entrants is up (restricted to 400 runners each year by the Forest Service), and Santa Fe is sending a strong contingent. Sixteen of us scheduled to be on the starting line - ten men, six women.

Interestingly, the Santa Fe crew has a chance to claim not one but possibly both titles this year. Colorado native Jon Severy (runner-up last year) is now calling Santa Fe home. The elite comp for Severy is going to come from Sal Perdomo of Abq, John Ruybalid of Cruces, and Andrew Rhodes of Morgantown WV. Previous champs Houghton and Gutierrez, winners of 12 of the last 13 races, aren't listed to run.

Upper La Luz through the rock fall sections
On the women's side four-time champ Erica Baron of Los Alamos is listed to go. Elite comp will
come from Alyssa Specht and Madeleine Carey of Santa Fe. Ooooh, it may just be a burner.

Santa Fe has not had a champion at La Luz since Danny Maas in 1992. No Santa Fean has stood on the top of the La Luz women's podium since Judy Amer in 1989. Gonna bring the business up on the trail this year.

Updated (8/2):
Albuquerque's Jeremiah Johnson brought the noise this morning, running 1hr 24min for his first La Luz title. Santa Fe's Jon Severy ran four minutes back for 2nd, Jesse Armijo eight minutes back for third.

Los Alamos' Erica Baron ran to her fifth La Luz title (9th in the overall) in 1hr 39min. Abq's Hattie Schunk ran eight minutes back in 2nd, Santa Fe's Madeleine Carey was twelve min back for third.

Santa Fe athletes:
Jon Severy 2nd, 1hr 28min 33s
Madeline Carey, 30th (W3), 1:51:36
Peter Vigneron, 31st, 1:51:58
Tomas Duran, 46th, 1:55:48
Kevin Brennan, 59th, 1:59:33
Benny Montoya, 81st, 2:07:15
Natalie Severy, 91st (W11), 2:09:05
Stephanie Latimer, 113 (W17), 2:14:21
Mark Baker, 114, 2:14:28
Adam Johnson, 121, 2:15:40
Stacy Brossy, 225 (W56), 2:36:46
Mateo Gomez, 270, 2:49:23
Dominic Mandel, 337, 3:35:30
Ranee Onstott, 341 (W117), 3:42:24

Full results here

Related Posts:
 - La Luz Resuls - 2014
 - La Luz Pre-Race - 2014
 - La Luz Recap - 2013

View La Luz Trail Run - Albuquerque, NM in a larger map

Saturday, July 25, 2015

New Mexico Trail Racing Season

Fall trails in Nuevo Mexico are the realist
La Luz is on the calendar next weekend and so it begins. Was chatting about all of this earlier in the week with friends and trail companions, always exciting to prognosticate and gauge fitness. August/September/October are the golden months to be charging up and about the hills. 

Right, so my own fitness could use a lot of work which is why I turned instead to updating the site's race calendar in a bid to distract. Found several event items in the calendar worth noting:

Big Tesuque Trail Run is just ten weeks away and online registration is now live. Race date is Saturday October 3rd and it's gonna be another big year. I know all this because I assist Pete Fant (race director) with some of the setup. 31st year for this Santa Fe classic. Dustin Martin seeks to defend his three year reign at the top.
Dustin Martin floating the Big Tesuque descent

Oh shit, La Luz is next week! Always a mix of elation and physical horror at this thought. It will be the 50th running of this grand old race. A run-down (run up?) of this year's Santa Fe contingent ought to be up shortly. Several local runners in the mix this year.

Pajarito Trail Fest is a jewel of the Los Alamos racing scene though long overshadowed by ultras and triathlons and generally inaccessible to most of the Santa Fe running community as it shares its race weekend with Big T. Not this year. The race moves back two weeks to October 17th. Stoked to see this change, planning to race myself into a swifter me by about that time.

This June's FIBArk White Water Fest in Salida had a trio of running events. A hill-climb, a trail run, and a road race. Awards were given out for the triple crown as well. Been needing an excuse to make this event for several years now and now it's a done deal. Believe they raced MTB too. An earlier start will set me up a bit stronger for next year's La Luz and help lever-off the gravity of middle age for just a bit longer.

Other Area Events:
- Buffalo Thunder Half Marathon
- Taos Up-and-Over
- SF Waldorf Trail Run - Arroyo Hondo Trails

Friday, May 29, 2015

When an Awesome Run gets Awesomer

Visiting and running in Boulder this last weekend. Memories from my days as a student are now more than a decade past and my internal map of the area trail system is incoherent. A wonderful side-effect of such haziness is to run unfamiliar trail sections then round a bend or exit a grove of trees to a marvelous and long forgotten viewpoint. Like greeting an old friend - over and over and over again. It's an enlightened experience, especially when you're also running with an old friend.

Our Sunday long run routed up and over and through until we made a quick change in direction and cut to a little known thru-trail in a residential area. At the bottom of the hill, setup right off the footpath, were two guys dolled up in red cocktail dresses and makeup, unloading three coolers of ice and Pabst beer from a truck. It was like the day couldn't have been a more perfect day, than this. Beaming, I laugh and call out through a maniac's grin, 'we've been looking everywhere for you!'

At this, the red-dress guys frown and look confused. They were expecting a group of runners in matching red dresses to come through, but we dropped in from the opposite direction, outfit in regular dirtbag attire plus mud-caked shoes and ankles. Little of this made sense to them at that moment. In contrast and in an apex of irony, their presence made clear and absolute sense to me along with my fading memories of life in Boulder in my 20's. The badassness of hitting an inadvertent beer stop during a long run ranks quite high. To be fair, it's most likely an act of God. I may have even said this out loud, in which one red-dress guy blinked slowly and indifferently in response. Then we remembered there was an incredible amount of beer sitting at our feet and we laughed and laughed. One celebratory PBR and several hi-fives later and we were clipping down the path again, stepping briefly to the side as an impressive fleet of on-coming runners feted in red dresses stormed right on by.

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Saturday, May 9, 2015

The Santa Fe Watershed Association's new Arroyo Project

The Santa Fe Watershed Association is partnering with Santa Fe Brewing for the launch of SFBrewing's new Hefeweizen River Brew. The beer label will incorporate the SFWA's logo design (at left), and if this launch is similar to last year's partnership with the Santa Fe Conservation Trust, something like $.25 from each pint or can will go toward support of SFWA and their mission. Aside from rehabilitating the Santa Fe River (which is slowly rising back to life) SFWA's newest project is to begin restoration and cleanup work on some of our major arroyos. A fundraising goal of $10,000 has been set for the work they're planning which ties-in to the new marketing campaign for River Brew.

As it happens, I spend a fair amount of my time hanging out in arroyos as well as wedging in a minute here and there to admire the occasional pint of beer. The Desert Babe doesn't find either of these interests to be much of a coincidence. Point being, this project and fundraising effort is a stroke of unholy genius which includes a Beer/Project launch party on June 10th. It's as if they sat around brainstorming how to come up with raddest invite list to their summer party, and someone was like: What if we invite mostly just the cool people rockin' out the arroyos, and those hiking and biking the drainages and creeks, and those that love snow and the rain, and maybe maintain other trails in their spare time, and really like beer? NAAAILED IT.
Incredible Santa Fe arroyo map

This guest list self-selects of course. So head over to the fundraising page to get your ticket to the event, or a shirt, or a hat, or a package with all the stuff. If you're too lazy to do this then make a point to show up at Del Charro on June 10th for the party and bring your checkbook. Too lazy to remember any of this or too poor to part with $10-$20?, then show up to lend a hand with the arroyo work when that begins. For added incentive I'm going, and I've got two extra tickets for the event (which includes a pint glass) that I'll give away via random drawing to folks who will share, post, tweet or re-tweet the current fundraising effort. Add your name in the comments below that you shared and want to be included in the drawing. Add something witty or complimentary to bend the odds in your favor. You can also send an email if you're internet averse but an anonymous comment is strongly suggested. Something about how beer is delicious or a quip about your favorite arroyo is fine.

And with that, time for a run.

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Thursday, May 7, 2015

New Mexico Snowpack Melts Six Weeks Early

Atalaya in storm clouds
Beautiful rainy week in northern New Mexico. I love it when it's like this. Ever run in the foothills when you're literally ascending/descending through cloud banks? Bad AF. One time I was up there with clouds and fresh spring snow but the snow was saturated and melting and all the ravines and drainages were running and cascading like a Japanese garden. Top 5 all-time run that one.

So I was checking out the area river gauge data to get a sense of how much rainfall arrived this week, and I saw something unexpected that made me kinda grumpy. Yeah there's enough rain in this week's storms to bring the Rio up 500 cfs. But when you look at the 60 day graph you can see that the 44 year average (the yellow triangles) are showing that we ought to be at peak snowpack runoff right now. The blue line however shows that our snowpack burned off the last two weeks of March. Not cool. Beautiful weather we're having but June/July could be rough when our water is chilling down in Elephant Butte.

Here's the Santa Fe River data. Same story. No average trend line to compare but the melt in March is clear as day with a longer tail than the flow in the Rio. No mames buey.  

Related Posts:
 - RAIN - NM River Flows Spike to 30 Times Avg Flows (2013)
 - Snowpack at Santa Fe & Taos Fall Short (2014)
 - Arroyo Washout (2014)

Thursday, April 23, 2015

City of Holy Faith to Chimayo Mountain Pilgrimage - Cold Beans & Dead Trees

Old and new - Chima 2015
Story and photos submitted by Joe Lewis: 

Rio en Medio to Frijoles Creek > Chimayo VillageDistance: ~21mi
Duration: ~8hrs

I don’t know why I decided I wanted to run from Santa Fe to Chimayo through the mountains this year. It was a combination of things but the main purpose was to challenge myself, test my faith, practice my moving meditation, improve my conscious contact with my higher power, have an adventure, do something no one had done, and see if it could be done. Obviously there is a precedent as Chimayo is one of the largest pilgrimage sites in the USA drawing upwards of 30,000 visitors every year on good Friday. Yet no one I spoke with on our local running team had heard about someone taking the mountain path, everyone goes on the main roads. I am sure the idea came to me while I was running. I have competed in Tough Mudders, Marathons, Backpack trips, and Ultra Marathons in the past so the idea immediately appealed to me. I could get a good training run it, scout some new territory, take my dog Tally Ho, avoid the roads and crowds, participate in a cultural event, and if successful do something no one had done before. But what route would I take? How long would it be?  What would I need to take? Would anyone go with me and did I want them to? Could and would I make it?

The morning of our run was clear and bright. A full moon was setting in the west when I awoke. My good friend Silas Peterson had decided to accompany me and arrived at 530am. I figured a partner would be good to have this first time around plus Silas and I had been through quite an ordeal when he survived a near death 150ft fall in the Grand Tetons this past July done an ice couloir which I witnessed. Our relationship since had been good but there was some kind of underlying dude tension between us (not wanting to admit weakness, fear of mortality, stubbornness...etc) that we never really talked about. We needed this challenge and the potential for healing.

After a quick stop to say a prayer and connect with a buddy who was going the 28 miles on the road we hopped back in the truck for a drive up to the trail head at Rio En Medio. It was chilly and dark when we arrived. I had a larger 2 day pack and Silas was only carrying a small water vest. We set off almost due east up the Rio En Medio on trail 163. It was slow going warming up the bodies and with the spring run off we had a few stream crossings but we managed to stay dry and made our way to trail 179. After about 1 mile this trial cuts northeast into the mountain over a ridge into the Rio Nambe canyon. This trail was obvious but had some rock slide areas that were almost impassable as well as some dead fall. Generally though it was pretty smooth going.

Tree and creekbed damage
Silas with the Sangres to the east
By the time we made it down into the canyon it was warming up and the sun was peaking through the trees. We had been going about 4.5 miles by this point. The canyon itself was a disaster zone. Literally it had been the site of a large forest fire two years ago and the trees still standing were charred and the stream itself roared through denuded banks clearly eroding and cutting new paths that would have been impossible with vegetation. A huge ponderosa pine lay across the stream with roots exposed gripping large river boulders like a fisted hand. It made a good bridge but the scene was surreal. As we made it a bit further up we got into some clearings which had some more life with new grass shoots and aspens budding. We had planned to cut north and then meet up with trail 234 going northwest onto the Nambe mesa but we somehow missed it. Instead we ended up on Borrego trail 150 headed due north. I figured that was the case looking at the topo map and the fact that there was no western trail taking us out of the mountains the way I had planned. I was a bit nervous at this point. This was the dark area that I had not scouted in advance and we had clearly missed the trail I was hoping to find. I joked and tried to downplay it but I was unsure and fear was creeping in.
While the unknown trail was difficult with endless deadfall and some icy snow patches we kept at it. After all this was some kind of pilgrimage and while Silas is a professed atheist and I am more of a spiritual leaning agnostic we had to trust the universe had our backs on this one. One foot in front of the other and we would make it out. Around mile 9 we crested a ridge and headed down. I guessed at this point we were in the frijoles and Santa Cruz lake water shed. A mile further on we arrived at a swollen stream which I guessed was the Rio Frijoles (frijoles is beans in spanish thus cold beans). I figured if we followed it down stream we would end up coming out on the roads where I had done my first scouting mission. That however was easier said than done. The canyon was steep and the trail crisscrossed the stream over 20 times. Just when our toes regained feeling it was another back and forth and a re-numbing with needles in our soles to follow. At 11:30 we stopped for a quick lunch and shed layers as we were dropping elevation at this point and the sun was getting high and warm overhead. At about 12.5 in we were making good time and steady progress.

I figured we were a little over half way there but that didn't make the navigating the canyon any easier. The fire hadn’t come down this far but there was still plenty of dead trees. Some we went over and others had enough clearance below to squeeze underneath. This was becoming a real obstacle course. We had a feeling of anticipation but with frozen feet a sprained ankle was a real possibility, we weren't out of the woods yet. At mile 13.5 some ATV and jeep tracks started showing up. This was a relief and then I saw the area I had run on my reverse scouting mission. Our legs were in good shape as most of the past few miles had been downhill with plenty of distractions but now it was up a ridge across country to intercept cnty rd 123 and south around Santa Cruz lake to the Santuario. I figured we had another 6 miles to go after having covered about 14.5 by this point (my Garmin died so these are approximations). We started getting into our food and electrolytes but we were out of the mountains, they had released us. That low grade anxiety of being so remote, blind and isolated vanished. We looked back up at the mountains and out over the washes and foothills we had yet to cover with a sense of purpose and levity.

Cundiyo overlook and a parade of Good Friday pilgrims
We made good time across the foothills. Following some cow tracks and jeep trails I saw my old prints in the dirt from my scouting run weeks before. We intercepted county rd 123 then crossed Hwy 503 to Cundiyo climbing up onto the mesa south of Santa Cruz Lake. One more drop into a wash then we were up on the western mesa above the Lake and the town of Portero and Chimayo. We started seeing the cars and walkers headed to the shrine as we were. We hugged a ridge and dropped down right above the church where hwy 98 and county rd 92 converged. Loud motorcycles rumbled by, trash littered the shoulders of the road, and portapotties stood sentinel. After 8 hours and about 21 miles on trail we had arrived. We joined the masses and headed down towards the river. As my dog Tally Ho drank and frolicked in the stream with the kids I thought about the water and how it was the same runoff, with a brief reservoir stay, from the high peaks which had been freezing our feet a couple hours previously. We walked around the gardens and then past the line to get into the church itself. The structure has become such a well known site as many miracles have been attributed to the place, injuries cured, and the dirt is believed to be holy. It was crowded and tourists mixed with serious devotees of Spanish ancestry with rosaries and screen printed Jesus shirts. It was quite a shock to be surrounded by all that humanity, cultural history, juxtapositions, and faith after being so quiet and alone in the woods.

Good Friday at the Santuario
Santuario de Chimayo
We met Silas’s girlfriend Abby on the road and got in the car for the drive back to Santa Fe and my truck at Rio En Medio. It was a very cool experience and I would certainly do it again. Maybe I was expecting too much though as I sat in the back seat of the car exhausted and slamming chia seed Kombucha. There was no white light experience, no deep immediate faith gained. Yet I think the real lesson is that this was a challenge. Something no one else had done and I scouted it over 2 months, mapped it, trusted I could do it, believed the universe would see me through and completed it. My faith is not some guilty conscience and penance of sin and repentance. My faith is a steady and persistent discipline much like the run itself with one foot in front of the other and when the trail is lost a belief in the universe that we will find our way. It is at times nerve wracking and painful but also allows me to run through cold mountain streams with my best friends jumping over logs and freezing my toes. I like to think Caballo Blanco would have approved.

A week after the run Silas told me that my friendship was very valuable to him, I had been of incredible service, and I had affected his life deeply. If that isn't cool and a good reason for a pilgrimage I don’t know what is...

Related Posts:
 - Easter Pilgrimage: As Interpreted by Endurance Athletes
 - Nambe Creek - TR 160
 - Scouting Forest Service Trails by Plane


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