Hiking Cerrillos Hills

November 22, 2009 at 3:28 pm

The gang is ready and waiting

On our second and last day of Santa Fe goodness, we headed south for a bit of a desert hike. The Cerrillos Hills rise up out of a wide desert plain just south of the mountains surrounding Santa Fe. From the various hilltops along the hike, we could see into the wide basins on either sides of the hills, and south towards the mountains around Madrid.

Dead cholla and mountain views

Our hike was a little less than 5 miles long, and we wandered and mosey’d our way through the desert. Dylan and Ann were wonderfully patient with Mark and I, as we went slowly, stopped for photos in yoga poses, threw rocks into old mines and generally did not hike very quickly.

Partner Yoga in the Desert

It was another lovely day. No wind, no clouds. Just long views, and quiet desert.

Mark and Liv relaxing while the girls do yoga

In the evening, we had dinner at Body Cafe, a local yoga studio/spa/boutique/restaurant that specializes in creative use of raw foods. Ann’s raw curry soup threw both Mark and I for a loop. And their raw, vegan Cheesecake really topped off a great weekend.

Mark, Ann and Dylan hiking out in the evening

I really wanted to stay in the happy bubble of Santa Fe. I think the fight Mark and I had that evening over whether or not we should crash the tango dance party at the restaurant was less about dancing and more about how sad I was to leave. But life moves on, and the real world beckons most of us home from vacation eventually. Dylan and Ann, however, do get to stay…

Climbing Potrillo Cliffs

November 21, 2009 at 4:58 pm

As I mentioned in my previous post, our first day in Santa Fe, New Mexio, was an amazing desert adventure. After our trip to the Farmer’s Market, we headed out for a day of climbing at the Potrillo Cliffs.

El Portillo

This line of short, but sunny and bomber basalt cliffs sits above the Rio Grand river canyon, just south of Los Alamos. In fact, inorder to get to the cliffs, you have to walk past a very interesting, specific, sign that outlines all of the possible bombs that we might run across, and who to call if we find some. The area sits on the edge of the Los Alamos munitions testing range, and we all learned a lot about what bombs look like from checking out this sign. I hoped to find a purple grenade!

Mark reads the sign carefully, and hopes to find a purple grenade

At the end of November, this area had perfect climbing weather. There were clouds occasionally obscuring the sun, and a chilly breeze that came and went, but plenty of warmth and light. We hung topropes on several climbs and worked some beautiful cracks.

Ann starts with a clean ascent of the wide chimney on Chuckawalla (5.8)

Mark stems the beautiful diherdral in the afternoon sun

Dylan has a nice write up and good pictures from the day on his blog as well. I loved the thin hands cracks on Upper Kor’s Crack (5.9), the chimney start on Chuckawalla (5.8) was awesome, and the overhanging fingers start on Lower Kor’s Crack was tough but very, very fun.

Mark belaying above the canyon

We climbed until our shoulders started to give out and the sun had dipped near to the rim of the canyon. Then we packed up, hiked back through the deserted, and headed into a cold, quiet starry night. Ann and I spent two glorious hours at Ten Thousand Waves, and Mark and Dylan had beers and a hike home from the Second Street Brewery. It was, as I have said so many times before, and awesome day.

Climbing Desert Basalt

Thank God for Santa Fe

November 21, 2009 at 10:30 am

By the end of November, Mark and I were feeling pretty run down. Winter was rolling in fast and we wanted a climbing trip to the desert. Mark managed to wrangle the whole week of Thanksgiving as vacation, so we left Friday night (the weekend before) and drove straight through to visit Dylan and Ann in Santa Fe, New Mexico.

Dylan and Ann walk the market

Dylan and Ann have been living in the desert hippy mecca for about a year and a half, and they have built a fantastic life for themselves. They have explored the mountains and cliffs, paths and arroyos all over town. Dylan is vegan and becoming an incredible cook, so their kitchen seems to be always full of interesting, organic, fresh, gourmet food. Ann, who lived in Santa Fe long before we ever met, returns faithfully each week to an amazing Japanese-style spa and bathhouse for cleansing and meditation.

It’s a simple, quiet, healthy lifestyle, and it felt so very good to be a part of it for one weekend last month. I have found myself constantly craving the peacefulness that I felt that weekend ever since I left.

Chili Pepper Christmas Wreaths

Saturday morning we headed to the Santa Fe farmer’s market for snacks, meal fixings, organic car deodorizers, and desert culture tourism. I’m a huge fan of farmer’s markets, and I got a kick out of the different items on sale at this one. Bound sage bundles were very popular – when burnt, they have healing effects. Dried chili pepper wreathes seemed to cover every other table – they are the official symbol of Santa Fe. Then there were mushroom CSA shares, yak meat from Taos, locally made breads, vegan breakfast burritos, spicy hot jellies and chutneys, and piles of fresh produce, even at the end of November.

Bound Sage

Our wandering around the Santa Fe market was the start of the best desert day I have ever had. We went on to climb sunny basalt cracks overlooking the Rio Grand. Then finished it with Ann and I alternating hot sauna and cold mineral baths at the most amazing, quiet, moon-filled Japanese bath house. It was incredible. I miss it all: our friends, the desert nights, the meditative quiet, and the great food! I miss it so much, it actually hurts to write about it.

Winter Hiking

November 14, 2009 at 10:12 pm

It’s been a hard start to the darkest season here in Colorado.

A record snowy October plummeted into a frigid November and December. And while the skiers all seem to be rejoicing over the snow quality this year, Mark and I have found ourselves retreating into rock gyms, yoga studios, and CrossFit Workouts with an unparalleled masochistic glee.

I think this little introduction was supposed to be some kind of excuse for why our most recent photogenic “adventure” was just a 5 mile hike in a local state park that happened about a month ago. But, hey, it’s a lovely park, and not a bad way to spend a Saturday afternoon.

Snowy Pine Trees

Looking down on Horsetooth Reservoir and Fort Collins

We are very lucky to live in a small town along the Front Range in Colorado. The foothills just to our west loom over our town, and top out at near 8,000ft. They can’t be called real mountains, by a Rockies standard, but the forested slopes, red sandstone hogbacks, and lovely views of the plains spreading out below make for a great escape.

View from the summit of our unnamed foothill

Summit Shot

Our hike up was around 2.5 miles long, and gained about 1200 feet. We headed up the Well Gulch Trail and the Timber Trail until we hit the shoulder of the ridge. Then we broke off right and tagged the summit of one of the pointer foothills just north of Arthur’s Rock. I stare at this little peak from my office every day, and it was nice to finally sit on top of it that day.

We cruised down the side of the ridge, feeling good and racing incoming snow back to the car. We followed the Timber trail all the way down to a new trail that descents the most exposed and sunburnt part of the hillside. It seems the park service has built a few new, fantastic-looking, mountain bike trails up here, and I can’t wait to get back and try this one out next spring.

First Snow