August 1, 2011 at 3:46 PM

Rain, Glorious Rain!

"But oh, how great to be back in the mountains!"

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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The U.S. Forest Service and coordinating agencies like the Valles Caldera, state parks, city of Santa Fe and others gave us great news Friday with the announcement that mountain areas were re-opening.

So as of 7 o'clock Saturday morning, I was on the road to one of my favorite trails off the Ski Basin Road.  With a fine companion for the morning, I wandered out through the leafy woods.  It was cool and quiet on our chosen trail.  But there were signs that it's still not a typical summer: despite the clear evidence of the heavy deluge and sleet up there yesterday, we saw nary an acorn on the oaks and very few wildflowers.  Likewise, fewer animal tracks through that area than usual.

I suspect this may be a year when more critters find their ways downhill and into town.  Those who live in the foothills with fruit trees and hummingbird feeders will probably need to be more careful in their housekeeping to discourage repeat visitors.

But the crisp air was rejuvenating to both me and my companion, an older gent at least as starved as me for the leafy greenness.  We startled a red-tailed hawk at one point which flew a short way from its perch to land again in the top of a nearby ponderosa.  It looked at us over its shoulder, shook itself vigorously enough to dislodge several feathers--almost as if in disbelief of our presence--then took off for a more solitary retreat.  It wouldn't have been troubled like that for a month.

The sky was crowded with gray clouds by the time we returned to our trailhead.  Several spatters of welcome rain hit the windshield as we pulled away.

As we passed trailhead after trailhead on the way downhill, it was really clear that many others had entertained the same pent-up desire to be on the mountain.  On the busiest days, I've never seen so many cars parked along the road at the Borrego-Bear Wallow trailhead!

My personal thanks to every one of the beleaguered agency personnel who must help protect us from ourselves during these times of denial.  An acquaintance said it well: we could deny ourselves now for a month, or take a bigger risk of losing the woods as they are for our lifetimes.  But oh, how great to be back in the mountains!

Photo caption: Leafy Sangre de Cristo Mountain trails
Photo credit: Outspire Hiking and Snowshoeing

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