San Pedro Parks Hike

Last Thursday my friend Dia and I went on a hike I’ve been wanting to do for some time.  I didn’t want to go alone, because the location was about 1.5 hours away from home and in a “no cell” area.

The drive to the trail was very pretty.  We stopped along the way to admire the beautiful countryside.

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Interesting rock formations along the road.

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These horses have a great pasture!

There were lots of thistle and shooting star blooming alongside the road.  Bees and butterflies were enjoying the blooms.

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Honey bees

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Great Spangled Fritillary

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Black Swallowtail

This trail is located at over 9,000 feet in elevation.  It consists of a lake and several streams cutting through high meadows.  Unfortunately, this summer has been very dry so the water level in the lake was very low and the streams were dry.

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San Gregorio Lake

It’s been very hot this July.  Even at over 9,000 feet in elevation, it was in the mid 80s.  Scarlett was happy to see water to cool off.

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When Scarlett ran out of the water, she went right by Dia and covered her in mud splatters.  Bad Scarlett!! 🙂

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Dia covered in mud splatter – bad Scarlett

The were some neat rock formations near the lake.  So of course, we had to do some photo ops!

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Miss Scarlett loves climbing rocks now.

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Me and Scarlett

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Dia found her throne.

There weren’t very many birds out at this time.  But Dia spotted a Hairy Woodpecker by the lake.

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Hairy Woodpecker

When we entered the forest on the far side of the lake, the temperature dropped in the shade.   It was very pleasant to walk then.

Soon we came across some trees that had fallen over and their root balls exposed.  The size of these root balls was astounding!

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At some points in the trail, we had to walk around the downed trees.  Of course, Dia is so small, she just went under.  LOL!

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After hiking awhile, we came to an area full of flowers.  There were lots of butterflies enjoying the flowers.  I couldn’t resist taking a ton of photos of them.  I had a hard time identifying them.  So if anyone see’s an incorrect name, I’d love to know.

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Blue Copper

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Dainty Sulpher

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Margined Mustard White

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Purplish Copper

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Purplish Copper

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Small Wood Nymph

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Southwestern Atlantis Fritillary

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Southwestern Atlantis Fritillary

Out of all the orange flowers, I spotted one flower that stood out.  I loved the colors of this bloom.

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We eventually came to a signpost at a large meadow.  We explored a ways along the Rio de Las Vacas trail.  We tried to stop and have a snack in the deep shade, but the flies decided we were lunch!

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We headed back to the meadow and decided to see where the Damian trail led.  It didn’t go far at all or we lost track of the trail.  I clicked a couple of photos on this trail.  Now I always think of the Damian Omen movies when I see the name Damian.  When I was going back through my photos, I realized the cloud formation looked like a devil face….creepy!

 

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Damian Trail…with creepy cloud looking down on us

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Can you see the creepy face?

The day was growing late, so we decided to head back to the car.  By now we’ve hiked over 3 miles.

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The large meadows were very pretty.

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We turned around at this meadow.

I saw several house wrens, but they just wouldn’t cooperate for a photo.  But I did see this young Lincoln’s Sparrow.  He was very curious of us, but wouldn’t come too far out into the open.

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Juvenile Lincoln’s Sparrow

On the way back, I saw this beautiful moth on a flower.  When I looked up the name of the moth, I just had to laugh.  Who comes up with this stuff?!?  The black and white really stood out.  There were also a few more butterfly species about.

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Police Car Moth

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Police Car Moth

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Freija Fritillary

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Weidemeyer’s Admiral

About a mile from the car, Dia spotted a rock that she swore was petrified wood.  I have my doubts but she was convinced.  She carried that rock the whole mile back to the car.

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Dia with her “petrified wood” rock

We finally made it back to the car.  Since there was no cell service, I couldn’t use the Map my Hike app.  But my polar fitness band let me know how far I’d gone.  🙂

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Driving back down Hwy 126, we noticed a lot of birds hanging out on the barbed wire.  Of course, I just had to stop to take some pictures.  We saw lots of Western Tanagers, Black-Headed Grosbeaks and Bluebirds.  But all of them were camera shy. Here’s the pictures we were able to get.

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Western Tanager Male

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Juvenile Western Tanager

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I believe this is a Vesper Sparrow Juvenile

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Juvenile Western Tanager

We decided to take the road north through Los Alamos to head back home. The biggest reason for this was to visit a Starbucks.  Dia was pining for a Starbucks drink.

We drove by the Valle Caldera preserve.   The caldera basin was just beautiful.

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Valle Caldera

We had a fun but very long day.  We can’t wait for the next adventure!

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La Cienega / Faulty / Armijo Trail Hike

I didn’t get out much at all last week as my work pile had gotten deep! But I did get out for a long hike one day.  Scarlett and I needed it! I decided to do a loop trail I hadn’t hiked in a few years.  The last time I hiked it I did it in the reverse order of Armijo / Faulty / La Cienega.  I remember doing a lot of steady climbing for most of the hike.  So I decided to do it counterclockwise this time.  This way I did much shorter  but steeper climbs at the beginning and end.  I liked the route much better!  Overall Scarlett and I hiked 5.3 miles with a 1,000 foot elevation gain.

Looking at my hiking trail book, I noticed that La Cienega and the Pino trail connect at the top.  Some day I’m going to hike up the east side of the Sandia Mountain starting at La Cienega and go back down the west side on Pino.  Should be a fun, long hike!

It was a gorgeous summer day and Scarlett and I got an early start.

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We hit the trail as the sun was rising

Since it was so early, there were lots of birds about.  Most of them were way up high in the canopy or moving too fast to catch a pic.

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Red-Naped Sapsucker

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Western Scrub Jay

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Hairy Woodpecker

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Spotted Towhee

As I moved up the canyon, I noticed quite a few hummingbirds feeding on the hillside.  The summer foliage was thick with blooms so it was a challenge to capture photos of them.

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Broad-Tailed Hummingbird

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Rufous Hummingbird

Then I noticed quite a number of MacGillivray’s Warblers about.  They are such beautiful birds but so very difficult to capture on film.  They are small and move so FAST! After taking probably 30o photos, I managed to get maybe 3 or 4 decent ones.

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MacGillivray’s Warbler

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MacGillivray’s Warbler

As I was coming down the Armijo trail, I noticed that the spring was flowing in one small area creating a pool.  There were lots of birds visiting this pool.  I couldn’t resist staying awhile and watching what came in to drink.  The birds mostly stayed deep in the brush bordering the water, but a few came out in the open.

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Chipping Sparrow

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Red-Breasted Nuthatch

The Pine Siskins came in great numbers to bathe.  So adorable to watch.

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Pine Siskins

The a lone chickadee landed right at my feet and started to bathe.  I was thrilled!

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Mountain Chickadee

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Mountain Chickadee

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He was really enjoying his bath!

As I was making my way to my car, I realized I was a quarter-mile short of hiking 5 miles.  I couldn’t stop then! So I headed back up the Cienega trail to see what butterflies might be about as the day had warmed up nicely.  There were butterflies all about enjoying the summer wildflowers.

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Common Checkered Skipper

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I think this is a Pearl Crescent female

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Russet Skipperling

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Western Tiger Swallowtail

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Margined Mustard  White

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Popular sunflower!!!  This Juniper Hairstreak is having to share this flower with quite a few other bugs.

Here’s a pic of Scarlett showing how the trail was almost choked by the summer foliage.

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But the best spot was at the side of the stream where the soil was moist.  A real party was going on.  I just had to sit on a rock and watch and stayed there for about 15 minutes.  So many beautiful butterflies about.

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Lots of butterflies enjoying the wet soil.

Here’s some closeups of the butterflies there.

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American Lady

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Acmon Blue

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Atlantis Frittilary in front

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Small Wood-Nymph

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Atlantis Frittilary

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Marine Blue

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Weidemeyer’s Admiral

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Hoary Comma

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Margined Mustard White

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Some kind of Skipper.  That group is difficult for me to identify.

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Silver-Spotted Skipper

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Spring Azure

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Mourning Cloak

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Weidemeyer’s Admiral

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Mourning Cloak

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California Sister

I guess after hiking 5 miles I had quite a bit of salty sweat on my skin.  The butterflies were attracted to it and flew around me.  One got brave enough to land and enjoy.  🙂

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Orange Skipperling

I had thought all the white butterflies were Margined Mustard Whites.  But then I noticed one that looked different.  I realized it was a Mexican Yellow.

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Mexican Yellow

While sitting there, I noticed little Miss Scarlett was about to nod off.

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Miss Scarlett resting…almost asleep sitting up 🙂

Eventually she gave in and took a nap. 🙂

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Miss Scarlett enjoying a snooze in the shade.

What a wonderful morning out!  Overall I ended up hiking 5.3 miles.  🙂

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My sweet Miss Scarlett

At the home front, the baby Cooper’s Hawk is growing up quickly.  I’ve mostly avoided the nest so as to not disturb the family.  I check in about once a week.

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Baby Cooper’s Hawk

I’ve also had a Ladderback Woodpecker show up recently to get bark butter to feed its young.  I wasn’t able to get a pic of it feeding, as the baby insisted on staying up in the pine needles just out of view.  But they have been coming by almost every day this week.

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Ladderback Woodpecker

 

 

 

 

 

 

El Malpais Hike

Last week I had to drive out west of Albuquerque to the To’hajiilee (pronounced Tow-ha-jill-ee) exit to deliver something to a job site.  Some of you may recognize the exit name from the very popular Breaking Bad TV show that was filmed in Albuquerque a few years ago.  I realized I was only about 20 miles away from El Malpais National Monument.  This is a beautiful area of unique sandstone formations and spectacular views.  I hadn’t been there in several years.  So on a whim, Scarlett and I kept heading west to go exploring.

My first stop was at the Sandstone Bluffs Overlook.  As soon as I parked I saw a bird sitting not far from me on a little twig.  I couldn’t believe my eyes!  It was a Phainopepla!  They aren’t usually seen this far north.  It sat a few moments letting me get a couple photos before it flew away.

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Phainopepla – female

I started walking up the bluff to the overlook.  Scarlett ran ahead of me and ran right to the edge.  Scarlett!!!  Give me a heart attack!!  The drop is very far from this overlook.  I kept a close eye on her after that.  She’s fearless!

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Scarlett looking over the edge – brave girl!

The views were amazing that day.  The weather was perfect.

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While exploring the overlook, there were a lot of birds coming in to get a drink from the many rainwater pools that collect on the bluff.  These pools are probably one of the main sources of water for the wildlife here.  DSC_7163DSC_7165

I saw a Bullock’s Oriole land briefly but the photo I got wasn’t worth publishing here.  But some bluebirds posed nicely for me.  And there were Cliff Swallows flying all over – too fast for a photo though!

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Mountain Bluebirds – male and female

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Cassin’s Kingbird

At one point Scarlett was hesitant to follow me over some rocks.  She watched me and gave it a try…

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Scarlett hanging back watching me scramble down.

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She was deciding if she could do it…

But then I saw her turn tail and disappear!

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Where’s Scarlett going!!!

Next thing I know she’s chose a different route to come down.  Smart girl!

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Of course, I had to have her pose a few times for a photo!  LOL!

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Miss Scarlett enjoying the view

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She was enjoying this little bit of shade!

 

After exploring the overlook, we headed down the road to the La Ventana Arch.  This is a huge arch and is the second-largest natural arch in New Mexico.  The photos just don’t convey the size of this formation.

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La Ventana Arch

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While there a Black-Headed Grosbeak was singing away! Such a beautiful bird.

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Black-Headed Grosbeak

I also heard a bird of prey calling way up high near the top of the arch.  I zoomed in as best I could to get a photo.  When I zoomed in on the photo, I realized it was a Peregrine Falcon (based on the markings and the constant calling).  It looks like it has jesses on its legs.  I wonder if it escaped from someone’s care.  Hopefully it will survive.  I believe it had a nest up there as it kept landing in the same place just out of view then flying away again.

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Prairie Falcon with what looks like jesses hanging from its legs

After viewing the arch, it was starting to warm up.  So I decided to head home.  Just before Grants, NM, there’s a small town called McCarty’s.   There’s a church there I’ve always wanted to stop and photograph.  Since I had time, I found an exit off the interstate and wound my way down the small streets until I came upon the church.  Sadly, it was closed.  But I was able to get a photo of the inside of the church through a little window on the front door.

It was a great impulse hike.  I’m so glad I went!

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USGS marker at the top of the Sandstone Bluffs Overlook