Saturday, October 26, 2013

Enough Fog and The Valles Caldera

It had been very foggy for a couple days before we went to New Mexico.  Turns out the fog stayed and it was still here when we got back.  Keswick (pictured above) prefers sun thank you very much.  He's been enjoying his craft paper tents.  Notice all the pinprick holes?  These are claw marks as he and his brother race about hiding toys under the paper.  Good times for all.  

Valle Grande and looking to the lip of the caldera
New Mexico is a great place to go to get some sun.  At this time of year it tends to be colder than Seattle in the morning but the sun is always out and it gets to a very pleasant 60-70 degrees.  On our last day in the Los Alamos area, we went for another sunrise trail run and then headed out to the Valles Caldera.  It's a National Preserve and just west of Los Alamos.  If you are in Los Alamos and look to the west, the highest hills are the edge of the caldera.  
Yes a volcano.  There is a supervolcano lurking in New Mexico.  Actually there are a couple other in the United States (Yellowstone for instance) and Valles Caldera is one of the smaller ones around.  Still it's impressive.  You drive over the rim of the caldera and all of a sudden there is this flat wide open expanse of grassland.  Off in the distance you can see the other rim of the caldera.  There are various lava domes which break up the floor of the caldera.  Access is limited into the area so without a guide or planned event, you can't go onto the grassland area of the floor of the caldera.  There are a couple ares where there is some free hiking and we headed there.  
Fire ravaged trees and understory coming back
The Coyote Loop is about 3 miles and pretty well signed with marks on trees.  This must be a cross country/snowshoeing loop in the winter.  There is an added out and back to the top of Rabbit Ridge which we didn't know about.  The trail (an old logging road) has a lot of blow downs and many washouts/trees so it's rather slow going.  We did not make it to the top because we just weren't sure how long the trail would be. There was also snow on the group which isn't much surprise as this is a north facing trail and we were at 9000 feet!  
This whole area was burned in a couple of large fires many years ago.  Many trees are dead but the forest is coming back. It was a beautiful area to visit. 

Elevation on upper left. GASP!

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