Taos | Hiking to Lake Williams

by Melanie and Jim

If you’ve been following our posts for the last few days, you know we’ve been vacationing in the Taos, New Mexico area. On our way here, we stopped at the Capulin Volcano. Once in Taos, our sunset hike along the Rio Grande River Gorge helped us acclimate to the elevation. We’ve hiked the Devisadero Peak Loop. And we’ve enjoyed our casita accommodations, some amazing food, and the San Francisco de Asis Catholic Church.

Sunday broke with a forecast for more mixed weather, including the possibility of rain. We wanted to take in one more significant trail before heading east into Oklahoma again. The trail we chose was the Lake Williams trail. As with the Devisadero trail from last week, the Lake Williams trail resides within the vast Carson National Forest.

The trailhead elevation is at approximately 10,200 feet in the Taos Ski Valley, north of the city of Taos. It is an out and back trail of 1.9 miles each direction, or a total of just under 4 miles. The highest elevation is just before the lake itself, at 11,142 feet. The footing was difficult in some places with jagged rocks and exposed roots. In other areas it was reasonably smooth. The elevation was the most difficult aspect, and we didn’t have much trouble with that. Taking breaks as needed, going at our own pace, got us to the lake very comfortably.
Click on any individual picture in the gallery to see them larger. Then, below each is a view full-size button.

There are more pictures and video below.

Taos | Spanish Influence

by Jim and Melanie

The influence of the Spanish on the Native American and Mexican families of the southwest is strong. One can see it in the culture and the architecture. An example is the mission church in Ranchos de Taos a few miles south of Taos, New Mexico. It is called San Francisco de Asis. The sign by the road tells part of the story.

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We arrived late morning intending to view the interior. A funeral service was in progress. So, we didn’t tour inside. The exterior is one of the most photographed and painted churches in the Americas.

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Front gate.

Taos | Hiking Devisadero Peak Loop

by Jim and Melanie

For months, we have hiked ever increasing distances and terrain to prepare for hiking in the mountains near Taos. This day, we chose to hike the Devisadero Peak Loop trail just to the east of Taos. We look out the windows of our casita to see these mountains as the sun rises over them in the morning. We arrived soon after 8 am. It was still about 48˚F. The climb was from 7200 ft up to 8300 ft. The trail continued after the peak. It looped around and followed the contours of the mountains back down.

We reached an early vantage point early in the climb which looked out over the town of Taos and the valley beyond.

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A lot of prickly pear cactus grew along the trail. Care needed to be take not to bump your ankles onto it.

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We were pretty well acclimated by now to the elevation. It was a reasonably strenuous climb. But, we made frequent stops for shade and water.

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There were a lot of switchbacks in the trail. We ascended on the left trail and continued on the right. Footing was sometimes smooth and easy. Other times it was loose and rugged. Parts of the trail had larger steps of rock ledges. Closer to the top we got into an area with a lot of round granite rock. We needed to be more careful not to twist an ankle.

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Step back just a little bit farther…farther…one more step. Oooooops!

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It was a challenging climb to the top for two flat-landers from Iowa. We don’t encounter elevation above 800 ft in our neighborhoods. We were proud of how strong we felt. It was a good feeling to be fit and able to make the climb without feeling exhausted.

The climb down was not as easy as we hoped. Melanie felt a fair amount of pain in her knees. She wore a brace which helped. It took a lot longer that we expected to descend. We got all the way down with no falls or stumbles and no permanent injury. Today we feel fine. We may get one more big hike in before we have to go.

Taos | Town and Our Casita Home

by Melanie and Jim

Adobe and blue sky are two features of the Taos, New Mexico area. We walked around the central part of town, stopping in small shops, speaking with the owners about their work. Each tiny side street has surprises.

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It seems the sky is just the right color every day.

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Shadows cast by the morning sun were just right.

Our ‘home’ for the week is this one bedroom casita about a mile from downtown. The owners lived in it while their larger home was being built. Now it serves as a rental. It is clean, quiet, and rests at the base of the mountains just to the east.

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Living room and kitchen at left. Bedroom at right.

Near sunset recently, we drove a short distance to the bridge over the Gorge of the Rio Grande. We hiked two miles along the west rim as the sun set. No one else was on the trail.

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The bridge is 565 ft above the river…7th highest in the U.S.

Mom

Originally posted on Catbird Quilt Studio:

This is a portrait of my mom, done in pastels when she was a young mother of five children. Today is Mom’s birthday. She died a few years ago. After my step-dad died, I ended up with the portrait. It hangs now in my quilt studio.

When I am working on projects, I have very little awareness of my surroundings. Unlike some people, who cherish special mementos around them, I don’t see anything except the work in front of me. But now and then I pause. When I look up and see Mom behind my long-arm, I’m surprised every time.

She could make anything. Sewing, tatting, needlepoint, crochet. Our community theatres enjoyed her talents as a costumer for many years. She created emperors and beggars, seven foot tall chickens and a cow, Tony and Maria and Officer Krupke. She remodeled bathrooms and kitchens and refinished furniture.

She didn’t leave a…

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Volcano | Panoramic Vistas

Originally posted on JAR Blog...:

“Great place to practice panorama shots” commented fellow blogger Mrs. P after viewing the post yesterday about Walking the Rim. “I will share a couple of those” I told her. They are linked to much larger views. Click to embig for a much more satisfying view.

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Looking east from the rim. Oklahoma and Texas are somewhere in the distance. The 8500 ft volcano at the right is ancient and extinct. | Click to embig.

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Looking west from the rim into the crater floor. It took five separate images to make this panorama. | Click to embig.

This brief video looks south and pans to the west from the rim. We later drove through the mountains to arrive  in Taos, NM.

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Volcano | Walking the Rim

Originally posted on JAR Blog...:

On our way to Taos, NM, we approached the cinder cone of Capulin Volcano. It is managed by the National Park Service as a national monument. It takes about 10 minutes to drive the 2 miles up the road that circles the cone. Most of the road had no guard rails. At the rim was a parking lot. We hiked the 1 mile trail around the rim which involved over 300 ft of elevation change. Then, we hiked down into the bottom of the crater about 1/4 mile. At 8000 ft elevation, we were out of breath several times. We flat landers from Iowa aren’t used to getting above 700 ft elevation.

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On a clear day, you can see CO, NM, OK, TX, and maybe KS.

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Click to embig.

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