MOUNTAINS OF THE DEEP WEST

The Sandia Mountains by MW 2021

The Sandia Mountains by MW 2021

Shirtpocket Notes —- Monday April 26, 2021 Sandia Mountains

The mountains didn’t start out as mountains. All that granite was under a vast sea, deep underground, overlaid by thousands of feet of other types of rock colluvium. Tectonic shifts pulled apart in rifts and as one plate fell into the rift it forced another plate up like a hinge, gradual on one side but cracked open on the side that faces the city. This granite came from six miles down, it was once magma but with heat and pressure and time crystalized into pink feldspar and quartz. But, before that uplift several inland seas came and went, each striation of sandstone or limestone that sits on top represent a different sea, a different time. Wheels within wheels. These mountains are only ten million years old, so, hold on to your hats, things are still shifting, fault lines still grinding against each other, the Earth’s molten core is a witch’s cauldron of “Boil, boil, toil and trouble.” It will erupt again, those volcanoes surrounded by lava fields on the west side of town guarantee that. No Deposit No Return —- Remember when bottles used to say that? (We keep one of those 1960s beer bottles over our stove in the kitchen, there was a magical time when you could redeem empty pop & beer bottles for 5 cents!)

Hard to believe it will all turn over and change, that the mountains will erode into the sea, the Rio Grande disappear, my hiking shoes lose their tread, but change is the thing. The Sun will not fizzle out for another ten billion years and until then the coagulated cosmic dust that is Earth will churn and turn and change. When the Sun goes it will get very cold. I hope you have central heating.

9:20
Trailhead parking at Embudo Canyon —- a dozen other vehicles —- elevation 6,170 feet

9:35
Grasshopper! Spring is here —-
I’m searching for construction date on this modern dam (most bridges in the U.S. have these dates) The city Water & Flood Control Dept never responded to my query, so, I’ll have to snoop around without their help, Grasshopper

10:02
I skirted along chaparral foothills south to find that stony chasm of a wash I came down Saturday ten days ago —- There is a post declaring this is Horse Bypass Trail (a trail by any other name is just . . . a figment of your imagination, but I swear I usually come to Horse Bypass down around and over there yonder . . . a rose is a rose is a rose) This being an alternate route up —- I am just below the Wilderness Boundary fence sitting in sandy arroyo —- Took 2 aspirin this morning before leaving so I must have intentions to make tracks today —- Photo’d a flower that looks something like an opium poppy, red with black stripes, I’ll come back and harvest the bulb when it matures to make opium tea! Who needs aspirin when opium is popping all over? [Commonly known as Longpod Poppies, yes, Papaver! Native to Europe, traveled this way via livestock feed —- blooms in April & May in the foothills and all over the city] ALSO, you can see the Banana Yucca fluorescence down in the swords they call leaves days away from their sudden shoot, also the Beargrass yucca about to send up its flowering stalk —- I pull up my knee straps and re-tie my shoes, I’m going for that fork I balked at last time, having sapped all my energy that day crawling up the other way, to the trail I suspect goes to Sad-Eyed Lady —- Slight breeze, flannel weather, sunny —- This lower wash and savanna a field of those blooming poppies, luminescent in the morning sunlight —- [Years ago an artist painted a giant eye on a boulder way up here, with two tear drops, crying for the encroachment and safety of the mountains wellbeing —- aka The Sandia Eye]

10:15
Hawk soaring, searching, figures he’ll pick my bones later

11:05 elevation 7,083 feet
Tea break on Purple Flower Ridge in a patch of sun amongst a grove of Pinyon —- Actually, I see that Pinyon dominates the trail up ahead —- 20 minutes ago I took that fork, and for ten minutes it was brutal 45-degree straight up (Forest Service surveyed trails are more amiable and would cut switchbacks with a more gentle ascent) I’m actually right above Embudo Canyon Narrows, this trail wends around from one side of ridge to the other, still climbing, still curious where it goes? Wind picking up —- Over the next month everything from cactus to flowers to weeds will be in bloom —- Earl Grey still warm from when I brewed it, I’ll have one of those homemade burritos in an hour, once I get further up

11:25
Button Cactus Ridge, these little guys you see only now and again are quite ubiquitous for this stretch —- I change lens, put on 8mm to shoot this frontal view of South Peak with Embudo Canyon in foreground

11:35
Deer hoof and foreleg —- cougar kill —- right in center of trail, like a sign? Look over my shoulder —- Better him than me! I search around for the rest of carcass but it’s been carried off by the various night creatures: weasels, ringtail, fox, even badger, but curiously I have not seen a coyote on the western slopes in years, don’t know why, altho, I have seen what could be their scat —- Of course, the cougar carried off most of it, usually, nothing is left (a few months back I came upon a fresh cougar kill that I must have spooked the cat, and returned a few days later just to see, and it was gone, poof, not a trace)

12:10 Lunch —- elevation 7,597 feet
I just passed another fork! One to the east I suspect goes down into Embudo —- I took the southbound, see where it goes —- I don’t have much of an appetite being in midst of so much death —- Carnage of pine bark beetle devastation and drought of the 2000s, a bad decade for pine —- there are hundreds upon hundreds of dead pinyon here, but also, new yearling pinyon! But this coming summer is going to be a tough one, we didn’t have enough rain or snow this past year, nor did it get below minus 30F to freeze kill the beetles [when there’s a dearth of precip, then the pine do not produce enough sap that repels beetles that bore in and clog up the arteries and choke them to death] —- Maybe it’s time to finally read Mary Austin’s 1903 book THE LAND OF LITTLE RAIN that I have slept on, lo, these many years [“slept on” = jazzspeak = overlooked]

12:25
I still have habit of looking over my shoulder while eating —- Let it not be known that Big Web was et by a mountain lion!

12:35
Break camp, put on my shoes, still plenty of day for exploration —- Really great view of Whitewash Ridge Trail to my north, I can see where I got to last Tuesday, I’ll someday make it to South Peak terminus, but I might have to pack a sleeping bag! It’s just at the upper limits of my physical abilities these days to make it in one day’s Herculean pop —– West is Mt Taylor sixty miles on the horizon, sere blues skies, long swatch of white cirrus clouds, chilly wind, the earth very warm and welcome

12:50 7,624
Another summit of sorts —- Still no idea where this trail goes?

12:55 7,635
And yet another summit, highest point for this trail, it now goes over the other side —- Good view of Interstate-40 down in Tijeras Pass —- Have seen no Ponderosa today (the “Ponderosa Zone” in the Sandias begins at 7200 feet)

1:20
Descending steeply down to saddle that continues up the other side even more steeply up a pointy rocky peak —- Somewhere in that direction has to be Sandia Eye, but I’m not climbing that eagle’s nest of a trail, that’s for younger folk —- East of the saddle is Echo Canyon and no trail goes that way that I can see from up here —- Westwards down from saddle is a wash that leads to the U-Mound, that’ll be my go —- Then, long walk up foothills trail to my truck at Embudo

1:29
Like every good saddle there’s always a Signal Oak —- this one is an old olde grandfather Juniper (One-Seed) that has seen many wayfarers over the passage of time and space —- And like every saddle & pass since time began the winds barrel through the funnel —- There’s probably a ravine nearby full of windblown sombreros —- Should I take a siesta before final descent? I’ll sit a while and think about it —- The red blooms of Indian Paint Brush beside me

1:37
Son of a biscuit! Grasshopper, Jesucristo, and Buddha, too! That fuckin’ hurts, yow, banged both my elbows taking a fall on this slippery granite trail —- Bound to happen, I suppose —- I had been thinking how my circumspection over cougars is somewhat founded in the climate change that is over-taking the Earth, when out from under me my feet lost their footing —- Climate change effects changes of all sorts, behaviors & attitudes & dining habits —- Great White Sharks are now found along the California coast from Monterey to San Clemente —- Well, nothing seems to be broke, a little blood to consecrate this hike, I haul myself up and try that again

2:15
Gawd damnit, I thought my climbing was over for today! About 30 minutes back at a Y in the trail I took the northward one that would steer me away from U-Mound and take me closer to my truck, and I figured correctly I’m sure, but this damn trail has gone up another steep trail to yet another boulder-strewn saddle on which I am now resting —- purple, white, red, yellow flowers all day —- in a few weeks will be a profusion. Earlier, I had been thinking that I’ll hike these mountains so much that it’ll turn into an impressionistic blur and I’ll be able to distill it all into a few pages! Or, even a Haiku!

3:30
Old Faithful Truck and road home ——– I follow a car down Lomas with two bumper stickers: COEXIST and MEAN PEOPLE SUCK

Wilderness boundary into Sandia Mountains reserve

Wilderness boundary into Sandia Mountains reserve

View down into upper Embudo Canyon and South Sandia Crest (9,782) and to the left, along that ridge and the saddle I made it to last Tuesday on Whitewash Ridge Trail

View down into upper Embudo Canyon and South Sandia Crest (9,782) and to the left, along that ridge and the saddle I made it to last Tuesday on Whitewash Ridge Trail

The Embudo Canyon Flood Control Dam ---- morning of April 26, 2021

The Embudo Canyon Flood Control Dam —- morning of April 26, 2021

Hokku: Leisure takes tea / in two cups ---- Paleontology

Hokku: Leisure takes tea / in two cups —- Paleontology

Generically known as Sandia granite

Generically known as Sandia granite

"Sandia granite is an igneous rock that crystallized about 6 miles deep in the crust from magma at a temperature of 1300F . . . potassium feldspar crystals grew . . . quartz veins and pegmatite cross-cut the granite . . .metamorphosed . . ." ibid.

“Sandia granite is an igneous rock that crystallized about 6 miles deep in the crust from magma at a temperature of 1300F . . . potassium feldspar crystals grew . . . quartz veins and pegmatite cross-cut the granite . . .metamorphosed . . .” ibid.

Hard to squint and smile at same time (I removed my sunglasses in this glare) I love these mountains, such a scramble and crawl. Hokku: Leisure takes tea / in two cups ---- Refulgent, shining, radiant

Hard to squint and smile at same time (I removed my sunglasses in this glare) I love these mountains, such a scramble and crawl. Hokku: Leisure takes tea / in two cups —- Refulgent, shining, radiant

South Sandia Crest and in foreground that round rock stuck in the granite is "intruded older rocks, formally lava, sandstone or shale, that has metamorphosed into the granite" ----Adam Read & Sean Connell (2010) GEOLOGY OF NORTHERN NEW MEXICO

South Sandia Crest and in foreground that round rock stuck in the granite is “intruded older rocks, formally lava, sandstone or shale, that has metamorphosed into the granite” —-Adam Read & Sean Connell (2010) GEOLOGY OF NORTHERN NEW MEXICO

Trail going up arroyo trail ---- 10:26 a.m. April 26, 2021 photo by MW

Trail going up arroyo trail —- 10:26 a.m. April 26, 2021 photo by MW

Lunch with view of Monzano Mountains to the south ---- 12:49 Noon elevation around 7500 feet

Lunch with view of Monzano Mountains to the south —- 12:49 Noon elevation around 7500 feet

Ravaged by Pinebark Beetle ---- death everywhere just before High Noon

Ravaged by Pinebark Beetle —- death everywhere just before High Noon

Cougars are ambush hunters ---- This one has had his fill, so you're good, for now

Cougars are ambush hunters —- This one has had his fill, so you’re good, for now

Looking down into Embudo Canyon with Albuquerque beyond ---- 10:59 a.m. April 26, 2021 ---- photos by MW

Looking down into Embudo Canyon with Albuquerque beyond —- 10:59 a.m. April 26, 2021 —- photos by MW

Trail going up ---- somewhere around 7100 feet

Trail going up —- somewhere around 7100 feet

Highest point of this trail ---- 7,635 feet ---- old Pinyon pine and granite

Highest point of this trail —- 7,635 feet —- old Pinyon pine and granite

Purple Flower Ridge

Purple Flower Ridge

The land of little rain

The land of little rain

Boxelder (a cousin to Maple) just coming into Spring bloom, a common tree in the arroyos in these parts

Boxelder (a cousin to Maple) just coming into Spring bloom, a common tree in the arroyos in these parts

Banana Yucca coming into bloom and in the background: Beargrass yucca, and Albuquerque in the distance ---- April 26, 2021 -- photo by MW

Banana Yucca coming into bloom and in the background: Beargrass yucca, and Albuquerque in the distance —- April 26, 2021 — photo by MW

Papaver rhoeas

Papaver rhoeas

Heading down looking back up to saddle I just came from ---- You can see the Signal Tree in the saddle

Heading down looking back up to saddle I just came from —- You can see the Signal Tree in the saddle

That pointy peak that I refused to climb ---- My elevation gain today at this juncture has been 1,565 feet and that's fucking enough, my age catches up with me ---- Dig, the Empire State Bldg is 1,454 feet ---- Eiffel Tower is 1,063 feet ---- Big Web is 5 foot 9 inches (I shrunk an inch a year or two ago)! Topo map gives it no name, but calls it at 7,657 which isn't that much higher than where I've been today but it sure looks higher ---- Anyway, leave that for the billygoats, I'm heading down to that saddle ---- I call it Eagle's Eyrie, and that road is Interstate-40 in Tijeras Pass

That pointy peak that I refused to climb —- My elevation gain today at this juncture has been 1,565 feet and that’s fucking enough, my age catches up with me —- Dig, the Empire State Bldg is 1,454 feet —- Eiffel Tower is 1,063 feet —- Big Web is 5 foot 9 inches (I shrunk an inch a year or two ago)! Topo map gives it no name, but calls it at 7,657 which isn’t that much higher than where I’ve been today but it sure looks higher —- Anyway, leave that for the billygoats, I’m heading down to that saddle —- I call it Eagle’s Eyrie, and that road is Interstate-40 in Tijeras Pass

5 Comments

  1. Greg Cohen

    Another great photo story! Love the little geologic tutorial too! Thank you Mark! Greets from Berlin

  2. Scott Virtue

    Beautiful drawing, thanks Mark

  3. Mark A Weber

    Funny story:
    A couple days ago I had my annual medical check-up and now that I’m on Medicare the MA (Medical Assistant to my doctor) had to ask some required Medicare questions. One was
    “Do you have to walk around furniture in your house?” which gave me pause —- I’m not sure that question is correctly constructed or directed —- SO, I just said, “Yes!” thinking to myself Do they think I’m Superman? (Remember how Superman used to walk through walls using mind control)
    The other fun question was > “Do you fall down very often, have you fell recently?”
    and I said, “ALL THE TIME!”
    Her eyes bugged out, “Really?”
    and I said those mountains I hike in are slippery unforgiving trails.
    Om Namah Shivayah!

  4. Mark Weber

    From the other side
    And having been up the front
    It’s becoming apparent the idea
    I held for so long is maybe
    not true —- The maps aren’t
    that useful, sure, there’s ridges
    and crests and ravines
    and unnamed canyons, but
    there’s a saddle one sees to the west
    from the canyon known as Tres Pistolas
    that I have long thought
    was the top of Embudo, a saddle
    I have been at many times
    And then two weeks ago, inadvertently,
    trailing a completely different idea
    (looking for a back way to Sandia Eye)
    I find myself on this saddle between
    two peaks that looks to be the saddle
    I see from Tres Pistolas, which is not
    the top of Embudo but the top of an unnamed canyon —-
    So, where is
    Embudo Saddle?
    It’s almost like I need one of those little flying drones
    (that they now use to find lost and dead hikers
    up here) to sort this mystery out —-
    I’ve even stared long moments from high on
    Whitewash Ridge and couldn’t figure it out —-
    So, I’ve seen it from several angles, the
    only thing left is to take the junction
    at top of Tres Pistolas that follows a ridge
    over to Embudo (there’s a post up there with an arrow
    that promises that very thing) —- Wouldn’t that be
    funny if that doesn’t answer all my questions?
    Avalokiteshvara, bodhisattva of compassion, watch
    over me

    Shirtpocket Notes —- Sunday May 9, 2021 Sandia Mountains
    9:38
    Parking at top of Menaul —- Trailhead to Whitewash Ridge Trail
    65-degrees
    Re: the recent spate of dog attacks/bites in these mountains lately one blogger
    suggested hiking on “technical trails” that “greenos” (greenhorns?) would never
    be found and with their crazy dogs ————- Well, no sane
    person goes up Whitewash Ridge from this vantage, it’s brutal for the first
    hour & half, just straight up at 45-degree incline, does that make it “technical”?

    9:40
    Just getting going and I see one of the greenos has added their spray paint graffiti to
    a sacred boulder —- It won’t be long before the foothills will look like my beloved San
    Antonio Canyon (in the San Gabriel Mts of SoCal), I revisited in 2015 and looks nothing like it did, now the graffiti in the
    lower elevations is multi-layer’d, looks like the NYC subway cars of the 1990s

    10:05
    Rock squirrel!
    My objective today curious to see if Claret Cup are around
    among the daisies, Apache Plume plumage, all holding to this ridiculous slope

    10:22 first bluff
    Hazy view of Mt Taylor
    No clouds south
    Many clouds to the north, slight breeze, sunny

    10:40
    Part-way up 3rd bluff —-
    WTF! Looking behind me, two bikers, humans never fail to surprise me:
    their ingrown all-encompassing unequivocal self-centeredness —- I’d go back
    and tell them this is protected Wilderness and that they’re out of their zone (not
    to mention out of their depth: this trail will break them) but, 20-somethings of a
    certain type refuse to believe that the world does not revolve around them, that
    giant sign at beginning of trail NO BIKES doesn’t pertain to them, of course —-
    What would Ed Abbey do? I’m too far away and can only sit here and feel my
    anger

    10:50 —- 3rd bluff — 6,774 feet
    an elevation gain of more than 700 feet (TH is 6,040) and more to go!
    This ridge trail follows a wide (18″) dike like a the spine of an iguana
    (“dikes” are those sedimentary lines you see in the granite, or if you’re in Utah
    that’s what the Waterpocket Fold looks like, one-hundred miles of moncline
    obstructing any passage —- You have to drive around it!)
    Tea break —-
    I need remove sweat-soaked flannel and have an apple
    and put on sunscreen (SBF Sun Block Factor 55) I never use this unguent
    but need reform this bad habit —- I’ve had skin cancer before —- Janet made
    me pack it this morning, she says I’m getting too dark —- I’ll continue bareback
    for a while —- Whoa! open’d that tube and the atmospheric pressure had it spurting
    all over the place! Not sure how thick or how much to apply?
    Junkos flitting in the bush, among all the other little gray birdies this morning —-
    I passed spot where I sat with that poor girl last year, that messenger from another
    world, bewilder’d and out of sorts (I reported in my chapbook THE GALILEO TREE)

    11:05
    Chilly breeze, I need to get humping —- Plenty of Indian Paint Brush but no Claret Cup —-
    Always as usual, Mountain Mahogany, juniper, cholla (not in bloom, yet), grass, Prickly
    Pear (not in bloom, yet), sporadic Pinon pine, yucca . . . .

    11:25 [photo] I wonder how a geologist would explain this dike (stripe) through a granite boulder
    that also cuts through an intruded rock in the conglomerate? very weird, it’s like the additional
    stone had cracked at one time, but, that doesn’t explain it, either . . . .

    11:30
    Still climbing up & further crazy up
    First Claret Cup! It’s not possible to miss blooming Claret Cup as they announce themselves
    loudly from hundreds of feet away —- This one is down the side of this ridge

    11:46
    High point for today’s jaunt —- 7,226 feet
    I can see over other side the Piedra Lisa Canyon saddle and the old pinon —- Maybe I’ll
    stop there, have a little snack and a rest, my usual spot, then take trail down that goes
    to Embudo Canyon City Water Tank —- Can’t stop long, I’m expected for Brunch back at
    the ranch

    12noon
    Roar of warplanes huge filling up the valley like the bowling balls heard by Rip Van Winkle
    in Sleepy Hollow —-
    Under my old friend ancient honorable pinyon —- I inspect her for Pine Bark Beetle attack
    and she’s fine, for now —- I wish I could take off my shoes but probably need get going —-
    Top of this cut-down trail is where I found that Stone Age handaxe a couple years ago, basalt,
    which doesn’t grow around here, so it had to have been carried, but then, I hardly believe
    Clovis People of 10,000 years ago were hearabouts, or the Anasazi, I just don’t see any
    logical reason (deer?) they would be up this far on this ridiculous ridge, unless they were
    just curious, which is possible, as what am I doing here? Well, that handaxe resides on my
    coffee table along with rocks from Southampton Long Island shore, a golfball-size round
    chunk of lava from the very tip of Iceland I brought home, and my fossilized dinosaur bone,
    and a Douglas Fir pinecone —-
    I’ll lighten my load and drink this can of V8, have a few pulls of jerky

    12:26
    Gravity Check! (I took a slight tumble) Halfway down trail almost to where trail crosses
    arroyo I call Meditation Arroyo, where I have often sat in the past —- All though here,
    after I got about quarter mile down trail,is Claret Cup all over

    12:32 —- elevation 6,726
    I’m recording elevation everytime I come across this rare vein of Greenstone one sees now &
    again in the southern Sandias —- Greenstone, a metamorphosed basalt, very soft —- Claret
    Cup is thinning out, they obviously live in communities and spread by association

    1:02
    With all the dog attacks lately some enterprising individual should set up a table at the TH and
    sell pepper spray! I’m in the flatlands now, at an Open Space cabana at the mouth of
    No-Name Canyon just north of Embudo parking —- Overcast, cooler than when I started
    today —- I need don my flannel —- I pick up a few beer cans but only for the aluminum
    recycle, I make no habit of picking up after slobs, this is the Chupadero Zone, they are
    used to squalor: plastic bottles in the Apache Plume, condoms, bottle caps, cigarette butts,
    dog turds, masks, crack pipes (just joking), napkins, a shoe(?), Big Gulps, lottery ticket stubs,
    all the hopeless desiderata of dissolute life, broken glass, a MAGA hat, a plastic fork with
    the two middle tines broke out . . .

    1:32
    Old Faithful Truck —- and twenty minute drive home and much-desired brunch with Janet

  5. Mark Weber

    Shirtpocket Notes —- Tuesday May 11, 2021 North Sandias

    Following an SUV up Montgomery that has custom painted on back window:
    Nicholas 1997-2012
    Forever In My Heart
    PLEASE STOP TEXTING & DRIVING

    (I think they meant to write “texting while driving”? But, we get the message)

    9:25
    Parking at Elena Gallegos Open Space Picnic recreation area

    9:40 TH > Pino Canyon Trail
    Wilderness Boundary —- I’m feeling strong
    Maybe those 2 aspirin I took before leaving home?

    9:58
    Blooming red Claret Cup cactus! [the only one I’ll see today]

    10:10
    I’m in the pine forest canopy for which this canyon is named —- Gambel Oak have
    already sprouted new leaves (this is a deciduous variety of oak) They’re so fresh-looking
    (leaves of years past on the surrounding ground)

    10:24
    First Ponderosa, atho, this one no doubt sprouted from watershed seeds as it’s somewhat
    lower in plant zone than one normally sees Ponderosa in the Sandias (7200-9000 feet)
    This one is an orphan standing alone in a forest of tall Pinyon Pine —- elevation 6,852 feet —-
    One doesn’t need an altimeter if you know which trees are where (and I never
    use “smart phone” or GPS —- I’m an ancient Chinese hermit mountain poet and we don’t
    what those things are or need them)

    10:30
    Now I see quite a few Ponderosa in the canyon depths, so, they show up early
    in Pino Canyon ——— Huge tall pinyon mostly, a dense forest

    10:33
    In that glade, a wide-open sunny spot where I slipped on ice a few months back and
    tumbled helter skelter all ridiculous asunder ———
    Elliot Porter -type shots of sun-infused oak leaves [He’s famous for his Poplar trees in
    the Sangre de Cristos]

    11:05
    Ponderosa now the dominant tree —- I’ve slowed down as I’m looking for bear: three sets
    of people (one single and two pairs) had come scurrying down trail, the first was a girl
    so fluster’d she couldn’t say whether it was big or little bear, “I don’t know, it was sitting
    down, across in there!” pointing down into canyon, she continued down trail —–
    Sit very still and listen —–
    She had alerted the others as they were going up and then had decided to turn around,
    one guy told me, “Be careful, they’re just coming out of hibernation and they’re hungry”
    There’s always one crazy guy who’s not scared of bears, continuing up trail, call me the
    Bear Hunter, I’ve been searching all up ravines and side-draws, squatting and listening —-
    Jays squawking, caw-caw-caw of crows overhead, and weirdly what sounds like the
    crooning of a Mourning Dove? (I have yet to see a Mourning Dove in the Sandias)
    Capulin (chokecherries) and other berries are not in fruit, yet —- I put my apple in
    front pocket as a possible decoy, I hope Mr Bear likes Granny Smith?
    One of the others said, “We don’t have bear spray so we’re going back! Be careful!”
    Wish me luck —- I don’t know whether to make noise or be quiet? That pediatric nurse/artist
    I ran into last week on Three Gun Springs Trail told me she always sings when she
    suspects bears are about, I kind of wish I had asked what song she sings? “The Teddy
    Bears Picnic”? I still have my 7-inch record of that from when I was 3!

    11:37
    I’m probably past the bear, dammit —- I have the worst luck, been hiking these mountains
    thirty years and never seen a bear, and then a greeno on her first hike into the wilderness
    sees one? What justice is there in that?
    Mahonia trailside in bloom [photo]
    Uta aka “Prairie Lizard” quite prevalent
    Squirrel, very skittish

    11:40
    Poplar! (Quaking Aspens) I jumped over the Doug Fir Zone?
    As I am finding out: Every canyon has its own micro-environment

    11:50 Hokku
    Bad luck to step
    on an ant —-
    Luck is more important than money in the bank!

    12:15
    The Spring —- I’m in serious need of rest, it’s been three hours of huffing & puffing, need
    to change my flannel shirt (one wears thick shirts even on warm days as the sun can’t
    creep through)(skin cancer can be an issue, and has been, for me) —- Lot of falldown devastation through here —- Malevolent winds, I’m not
    far from Galileo Tree (she was blown down September 2020 —- see my chapbook THE
    GALILEO TREE, at printers now!) —- I asked a couple some ways back, who’d made the Crest,
    just how much further it was to the top? About ten years younger than I —- He said, “One point
    two miles, you’re almost there, about an hour” —- She said, “You’ll need a coat!” Then after I
    had remonstrated how it’s becoming harder for me on these high altitude trails, she added, concerned, “I hope you have a phone?” I said my wife insists on that, she said, “Good! Always listen to your wife!” Apparently I looked weather’d and beat?
    Echo of woodpecker at work, rat-tat-tat-tat-tat-tat-tat-tat —- flies off with flaming red
    head, jet black body and wings with blazing white wingtips, hard to miss (and I do mean
    “echo” as it reverberated in this canyon) —-
    Gurgling water not something you hear or see very often on the western face —- Moss,
    ferns, shade, Boxelders, no bear tracks in the mud —- Maybe I’ll eat one of my burritos
    sitting with my sister, the fallen Galileo Tree, when I get there —- But! Right presently I’m taking a breather! Relaxing with the sound of creek water making its way over the cliff and down

    12:45
    Spent last ten minutes searching Galileo for her medallion —- Apparently, someone has
    made a trophy of it, it’s not here, which is too bad, she should have worn that for eternity,
    but humans being humans it’s not too surprising —–
    A short ways back a skinny fellow, maybe ten years younger, who had passed me
    while I was at the spring, was pointing to a
    falldown Ponderosa and telling me that it was The Galileo Tree, somewhat of a textbook
    case of “You look but you do not see” (Sherlock Holmes) This tree was much smaller to
    be an ancient medallion tree, and in a state of decay of at least ten years —- Knowing
    by his tone of voice that he was a Know-it-All I measuredly said, “No, Galileo has a root
    ball and . . . ” No he said and went on, “Fell down in 2018, lightning strike” (not true)(see
    my book) Holding firm in his assertion, I didn’t refute that, he said he knows “because it’s
    always just around that turn” pointing —-
    Then a few minutes later we meet again where he had scurried on ahead, now standing at
    my dear tree pointing “The Galileo Tree!” as if our prior conversation hadn’t occurred?
    People believe what they want to believe, and have built-in self-preservation methodology,
    I’m no different —- Then he surprisingly said, “Thanks for correcting me” —-
    It’s too bad about the missing medallion, but, I did take photos of it when she still stood,
    and shortly after she fell

    1:00
    Maybe too soon to celebrate: No gnats this year?
    Not far up from Galileo —- 7,933 — I’m having burrito with the Picnic Ants —-
    Good to see the trees hereabouts unaffected by Bark Beetle pestilence, altho, this
    tumbledown fall down eternity of death and not-death, the cyclotron of rejuvenation,
    belies some devilry at work in years past, more than just wind —-
    [Sandy Ballard’s list of Medallion Tree Locations has Galileo Death Tree at 8,182 feet, which
    is at odds with my altimeter———something amiss——-And the day I met her by chance last year at Galileo her altimeter read 8500 feet!]

    1:18
    Capulin bramble and Poplar predominate —- “JM” wrote in pencil on a smooth bark surface
    of fallen trunk “Elevation 8,335” My altimeter sayeth: 8051 ——– ?
    Boxelder bugs mating
    Not sure I’ll make Crest today, am running out of steam: So close, so close

    1:30 Hawk overhead floating, looking, calculating
    8,287
    I’m as far as my Covid-damaged lungs will allow today, or, is it the elevation? Thin air?—- I’m
    fairly close to the top but “close” is an illusion up here —- Too bad, I would have liked to
    test my altimeter to see if it jibes with the official book reading of the elevation, something
    doesn’t add up —- I could make it, but, one has to factor in the reserves for the return —-
    Well, I solved two mysteries today:
    One, is that the saddle to the left is the trail & terminus, not the one to the right — You
    can see both from the Trailhead (and from up here, not the one to the left that is all sandstone
    striations) And two: the reason no Douglas Fir is that they’re all dead — snags all up this
    upper canyon: drought and bark beetle death [later, on return I did find three Doug
    just barely holding on —- photos] —-
    Little tiny golden brown butterfly known as the Zephyr —- two of them!
    Many flies in this zone but they do not accost you, call them Non-Bothering Flies!

    1:50
    Heading down —- One has to be careful trudging through a forest of dead trees —- “Widowmakers” is what the firefighters call them, they can explode unexpectedly in
    the heat of day, or wind of night, resolving back to cosmic dust dissolution disintegration
    decompose, melting into the firmament, all of the composite molecules to reassemble as a field of daisies or a rattlesnake, all in the eternal turn-around

    2:20
    I’m back at the Pino Spring (thusly I see it called on the map) Good to see a bee drinking, but,
    only one bee?
    Interesting how Doug Fir are renowned for surviving under harsh conditions and
    circumstances, but none survived in this canyon, dead everywhere, so much sorrow, a
    forest of snags, very bleak

    3:30
    The only yucca you see in Pino Canyon is the Banana Yucca —- zero Beargrass, which
    is odd as the Southern Sandias are characterized by Beargrass everywhere

    3:38
    Baby tiny hornytoad! [photo] I hadn’t expected them to come along until mid-summer?
    I look around and there’s the telltale Ponderosa, you never Hornytoads without Ponderosa
    (I’m more or less out of the Ponderosa Zone and into the canopy of Tall Pinyon, this
    being the lower-most Ponderosa ———

    One bemoans not seeing Collared Lizards anymore in the foothills (I saw one last
    summer on this very trail in the Open Space sector, but for ten years nada)

    4:44
    Old Faithful Truck

    CHINESE POETRY ANTHOLOGY REFLECTIONS

    If you are alive
    you will have sorrow
    I have no advice
    on how to live with it
    It is just there, like this
    reddish skin from walking yesterday
    too long alone without a shirt
    in the mountains

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