Alamosa NWR

Alamosa NWR
Alamosa NWR

Sunday, October 28, 2018

Capitol Reef: My Favorite Hike

September 22, 2018

I wanted to do the Hickman Bridge Hike in the early morning after the trail was sunlit, but before it got too hot to want to be out o rocks in the sun.   I was slow to get out of camp, so it was about eight before I got going. 

The trail starts between the Freemont River, east of where I was camping, and a rock mountain. Almost immediately it switchbacks up a mountain with a view into a side canyon. Volcanic rock has been rounded into black balls by floods and tumble down the mountain from the black band of volcanic rock. The Civilian Conservation Corp built the trail  so it has a lot of steps, making it easier to climb..  After you get to the top, you soon have to climb down again before gradually climbing to the loop part of the trail.  You get to walk through the natural bridge before heading back. 

The trail gives long view from the loop past the bridge and  goes through sandy areas with lots of fairly close views of  of the formations. 

The trailhead for this hike is just past the petroglyphs and just after the Freemont River  crosses the road. 

View of the Freemont River at the trailhead

View as trail turns and climbs up and behind the parking lot

There are volcanic "balls" dotting the landscape  made by action of floods over millennium 

A sharp turn in the trail

This formation reminded me of a building

There was a lot of different diversity in the views

The beautiful work of the CCC

I was interested to see the range of the cochineal beetle  - this scale insect lives on prickly pear and 
is used to make carmine dye

Could only find three fingers of this "hand"

The landscape ranges from close to further

This was a mini bridge about half way along the trail

More cliff detail

This area was very sandy

Struggle to survive

The next pictures are from the part of the trail that loops through the bridge

The trail turns right and goes through another canyon

I never got tired of looking closer at the formations

These people are going under the bridge

Here is a longer view of it

And a view from the far side looking back at the rock formations

Another visitor and I traded pictures

One last look back

The trail continued

I got longer and longer views as I looped  back to the straight part of the trail 

All this beauty happened in less than two miles on a trail described as moderate. If you like to hike longer, you can connect to the Rim Overlook and Bald Knob trails for a total of 9.5 miles and reportedly stupendous views looking down on the orchards. Those trails range from moderate to strenuous.

This is the last blog on the adventures I had over the last month as I migrated to Texas. I'm finally in Galveston for about a week.  Today I voted, took my bike to be fixed, and started to get my car legal for next year. I'll try to remember to take my camera on a paddle this week. Otherwise, it may be a while before I'm blogging again. 

Wednesday, October 24, 2018

Rock Art at Capital Reef

September 22, 2018

Petroglyphs made by the ancient Native Americans of the Fremont culture are visible in several parts of Capitol Reef National Park. The easiest ones to see are are right along the road, just east of the historic Fruita School. Their meaning is still unknown. Hopefully they will not be destroyed until we learn their secrets.

They are just off the road, accessible to all,  and protected by keeping the visitors on a walkway. A huge piece of rock containing other petroglyphs split off the main rock and broke up in the 1950's , destroying other petroglyphs here.

I had the hardest time locating ANY of the petroglyphs until someone helped me discover a few of them. I finally got my petroglyph eyes and started seeing them. The camera could see them better. I came back twice, because the sun was too bright to see all the details the first time I visited.

There are many quite tiny figures, some fading away more than others

The cliffs there are stunningly beautiful - but falling down

Apparently they had most of the animals we have today


There were also people

More people, surrounded by animals - these are less than a foot high

This was my favorite group of people

This may be a big horn sheep - just not sure

Big horn and wolf?

More modern graffitti

When this comes up, I'll be playing in Corpus Christi. Then I'll be going to Galveston/Houston to vote.  play and also get my car inspected.

Sunday, October 21, 2018

Preview of My Next Summer Home

September 28 - Oct 17

I already knew I was going to have a very hard working and enthusiastic boss for next year, just by  our emails and phone conversations. I had  to make reservations at Capitol Reef and Grand Canyon National Parks in the early spring, in order to visit them on the way home. I guessed on the dates that the weather would be nice.  I could have left a little later. So I asked my next summer's  boss if she would like me to volunteer for a few weeks. She was enthusiastic  about it so I drove on down there from the Grand Canyon.
I got settled in my house by a summer tech and the tractor guy.  I had to wait until the following Monday to meet my boss.  I spent Saturday driving up to find fall aspens in the San Juan Mountains. Great Sandhills National Park is very near so I visited there on Sunday. My boss picked me up Monday morning just as I was leaving to go meet her, and we went to a three refuge staff meeting where I got to meet most of the staff.  All of them seem to be fantastic team players and fun people.

Sunrise out my front door

I had a different but still glorious sunrise almost every day 

Morning light on the San Juan Mountains to the west of my house

I went up into the San Juan mountains looking for fall aspens and was not disappointe

My little house

The big push for the first few days was to get ready for the Kids Crane Festival. I helped print stuff out, did cleaning, and learned two refuges as I put out hunting brochures and cleaned the toilets.  I was invited to a going away party for one of the staff who had gotten a job at another refuge. On my second Saturday, I helped set up and tear down the festival and then served as the festival photographer. I assured my boss that I knew how to take kids having fun from the back.

The blue goose showed up to the delight of the kids

The volunteers and staff eating just before the festival started 

My boss assigned me to take some sandhill crane pictures to put on Facebook to remind followers of the festival, but the cranes were AOL until the following Sunday.  Then I got about 28 good pictures of about 200 cranes.

Sandhill cranes near the visitor viewing area

Groups of sandhills were flying in and out while I watched them 

A view on the Alamosa Refuge
Got to have a rainbow without the rain

There are very few birds around - blackbirds, starlings, sparrows, magpies, and ravens plus some ducks and grebes
Another job on my list was to gather up all the retired metal refuge signs and paint over the words so we could recycle them.  I worked on that project parts of two days.  I loaded them into the car to haul to the recyclers when I was in the Alamosa refuge.  On one of the days I couldn't spray, I hauled all three hundred thirty-eight of them to recycling and earned the refuge sixty-three dollars.

My favorite job was going to be getting to spray weeds from a UTV. My boss took me shopping for a helmet- they didn't have any for pinheads -  and the summer tech hauled my UTV over to Alamosa where he showed me where to spray.  But when we went to mix up the spray, we didn't have the Milestone at Alamosa and had to go back to Monte Vista, forty-five minutes away. By the time I got back, the winds were howling and no spraying could happen.

So I changed to vacuuming the Visitor Center at Alamosa and printing two hundred wildlife brochures. Then I again started getting ready to spray the following day but the winds were still a gale so I only added water to my tank.  I was late leaving to go home so I ate supper in Alamosa before I saw that the gas light was on in my vehicle. I bought a little gas in Alamosa but the light came back on just before I got home.

We had a lot of gorgeous clouds while I was there - this was on the way home from recycling

It snowed several times on the mountains  - this is the San Juans

The next morning was going to be a beautiful day to spray so I left to go the the Monte Vista maintenance shop for gas before dawn.  But alas, I couldn't make the gas tank work. I figured that they had the electricity turned off but couldn't find the switch.  I finally decided to walk home and get my personal car. I came back and got everything I needed for the day - my helmet, gloves, and  jacket. I drove over to Alamosa - by this time it was mid morning, only to realize the Milestone was STILL in the van and the wind was starting to pick up. At that point, I just gave up spraying until next summer. I went into town to the resale shop and found a huge crock pot.  While I was testing it, I ran into Zach, the summer tech who had just morphed into a volunteer so he could continue to live on the refuge until he started back to school. I asked him if he liked using a crock pot.  When he said yes, I offered it to him for the winter. He was delighted to supervise my pot until I return next April.

I caught this coyote while driving between refuges - put had another one hunting on my walking route to my house

This mule deer was very interested in me

My boss texted me the location of the gas pump switch, so I was able to spend Saturday cleaning out the van, and gassing it up before using it to haul trash, recyclables, and a broken dresser from my house. Then I spent the rest of the day packing me back up and cleaning the house and shutting it down.

I left early Sunday morning in an attempt to beat the incoming winter weather but caught freesing fog as I moved through the Sangre de Cristo mountains. I saw a little rain and snow the rest of the day but Amarillo, my planned evening camping spot was also under a winter weather watch. I decided to drive straight down to  daughter Kris's house, finally reaching it at ll:00 PM, just ahead of that front. In Texas it became a flooding rain with eighteen counties declared disasters. I spent my time with Kris waiting for the next storm, or trying to take the the dogs for a walk between rains.

We visited Pedernales Falls State Park to check out the flooded river

Me and two of the granddogs

My boss manages two refuges, Monte Vista and Alamosa.  There is a third refuge, Baca, that has a different manager but all are part of the San Luis Valley Refuge Complex and I hope to also get to work at Baca some of the time.