November 8, 2011 at 5:15 PM

Hiking in the Fall: Take Advantage of the Cool Weather

"I love New Mexico partly because there are always trails to hike regardless of season..."

By Karen Denison

At Home Outdoors

Karen Denison is owner of Outspire Hiking and Snowshoeing guide service, a former biologist, and a shameless admirer of the outdoors.

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There's a weather change today, one of a series of fronts expected in the next ten days. Time to dig out the fuzzy clothes, find the gloves tossed aside last spring, and re-adjust schedules to reflect the frosty mornings.

This time of year is always a little sad -- another summer season has closed and the trips and trails I promised myself I would certainly take this year go back onto the "next year" list.

But I love New Mexico partly because there are always trails to hike regardless of season. When snow cover gets thick enough, it's possible to break out the snowshoes and be up in the mountains some more. But in the meantime we're spending more time enjoying basalt canyons or the sandstone of the Abiquiu area without suffering the heat. Petroglyphs are easier to appreciate when you're not baking and it's even more likely that you can be out and not see another soul on trail.

I feel badly for those folks who can't appreciate the diversity, who look at these "off season" areas and see barrenness.  The rough rocks and sand, sage and chamisa, jackrabbits and coyotes--even the big stinkbug beetles which leave their distinctive tracks in the wind-blown dust of the arroyos--are perhaps not as awe-inspiring as the green, high mountains.  But they are as much a part of New Mexico as the sexier peaks.  It simply takes some re-tuning of one's eye to see the subtlety and elegance of how these pieces fit together to make a beloved landscape.

Get out and celebrate the high desert this "in-between" season with a hike.

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