Fall Trip in Northern New Mexico

Recently my friend Dia and I spent a few days in a cute airBNB near Abiquiu Lake. The place we stayed was in the middle of the high desert up on a rocky mesa. The views from the home were so beautiful. We had wonderful first evening enjoying a glass of wine and exploring the views from the mesa.

Kelly and Dia
Dia enjoying her wine
Best friends!
Gorgeous view from the mesa
I especially liked the little rock pool that is shaped like a fetish bear with the TeePee in the distance.

I had wanted to do some sunset and/or night photography that first night, but thunderstorms moved in preventing any photography. So we stayed in and enjoyed the kiva fireplace and a yummy dinner.

Lovely kiva fireplace at our AirBNB

The next day we decided to explore the Ghost Ranch. I have long wanted to hike the trails at this ranch. You may be familiar with Ghost Ranch as this was the place the famous painter Georgia O’Keefe loved to visit and paint.

Wide open vistas
Kelly and Scarlett had hiked very high up the trail.

We decided to hike the Chimney Rock trail as it wasn’t too long and offered the best views of the area. After a short, steep climb, we quickly came upon the main attraction of the hike, Chimney Rock.

Chimney Rock formation

Dia and her dog Buddy decided to hang out here and enjoy the view.

Dia and Buddy

Scarlett and I decided to go further up the steep trail. The views from up high were just stunning.

Scarlett posing for me with Abiquiu Lake in the distance.

While exploring Ghost Ranch, the clouds continued to build. By the time we left, the clouds had formed beautifully over the grand vista of the Ranch.

The setting sun lit this mesa up so beautifully
I especially loved how the clouds formed over this butte. Just amazing!

We returned to our airBNB and enjoyed another wonderful dinner by the fireplace. That evening the weather cooperated much better. So Dia and I went out to take some more photos of our gorgeous views.

The evening light was so ethereal.
Such a beautiful sunset.

Not long after the sun set, a bright full moon rose into the sky. We both had great fun photographing the moon and the lovely light of the blue hour.

I love photographing dead trees for some reason.
Beautiful full moon!
So cool!
Amazing color!

The next day we headed home. The day was overcast and rainy. We knew the Aspen at the Santa Fe Ski Area were in full color, so we decided to brave the weather and drive to the ski area to get some fall photos.

I’ve often said photographers love bad weather. And this day showed just why. The low clouds on the moutains made my photos more dramatic. Plus the soft light and wet leaves, made the gold color just glow!

Low clouds over the mountain.
Gorgeous golden glow!
The white trunks are so lovely amidst the golden spen leaves.

We had a fabulous time while visiting the Abiquiu area. It was such a peaceful, relaxing trip. I would gladly go again to this area to escape the stresses of life.

Red River Hiking – Day 2

On Day 2 we hiked to Middle Fork Lake.  It was a tough hike.  You climb 1200 feet in elevation in 2.5 miles.  Pretty steep and that was with switchbacks.  But the hike was beautiful.  We followed a stream called Middle Fork Red River up the canyon to the lake.

We started the hike at a high elevation of 9,579 feet.  It was beautiful right at the parking lot.  We parked right next to the stream.

The hike started climbing immediately.  Whew! Not much air at 9,579 feet and it got thinner as we climbed.  Scarlett didn’t seem to mind though.  She was thrilled to be out on a long hike.


Scarlett and Kelly enjoying the hike.

The trail was beautiful.  I had to stop off and take photos every time we crossed the stream.


Middle Fork Red River

There were little waterfalls all along the stream.



I loved all the big rocks in the stream.



After about a mile climb, we came to the stream again.  And this time there was a big waterfall.  Beautiful!  I just love waterfalls.  There aren’t many in New Mexico, so when you see one, it’s a real treat!


A beautiful waterfall


Rugged and natural

After taking a nice break at the waterfall, the climbing resumed.  Whew! The air was definitely getting thinner.  My legs were getting tired too.  We left the river and it was just one switchback after another.  If there wasn’t the lure of the lake ahead, I might have turned around.  I hadn’t been on a long, hard hike for several months.

Finally!  I made it to the lake.  All of a sudden you top a rise and it’s there before you.


Middle Fork Lake

Well worth the effort of climbing to it.  The lake sits at 10,819 feet.  It’s a gorgeous glacial lake.  After standing there for a few wondrous minutes catching my breath, I walked down to the lake and took some scenic pics.


Middle Fork Lake

To my delight there were some Gray Jays there hoping for some treats from visiting hikers.  I had almost left my birding lens behind since it’s a very heavy lens.  But thankfully I had carried it up the mountain.  So I was able to get some nice shots of this cool bird.


Gray Jay

After sitting and having a nice lunch, I decided to walk around the lake.  Scarlett was thrilled when we came across a patch of snow left over from winter.  She had fun rolling and digging in the snow.  She was barking and letting everyone know how great it was.  LOL!  🙂


Scarlett loved the snow patch!

I took a few more shots of the lake.  I was going to try and walk all the way around the lake, but storm clouds were brewing in the distance.  I figured I better start heading back down.


Middle Fork Lake

When I got to the waterfall, I decided to try and climb to the upper part of the falls.  It was worth the scramble for the beautiful scene.


Above the waterfall


Above the waterfall

The waterfall was beautiful too as the light had changed since I had seen it earlier.


Gorgeous lighting


A wonderful part of the hike

Going down the trail was way easier than going up.  We made good time working our way down.  I let Scarlett have one more fun time in the stream before we got back to the car.  She just can’t get enough water.


Scarlett enjoying the water


My happy girl!

I’m so glad I went on the hike.  Everyone I hiked with was wonderful.  It was definitely worth the effort.


Almost back to the parking lot.  Whew!

Stay tuned for my last day at Red River.  I will be birding in Eagle Nest! 🙂




North Crest Trail Hike and other stops

Last weekend I decided to hike the North Crest Trail.  It has been very hot here lately and that’s the coolest place to hike in the summer as it is over 10,000 feet in elevation.  I haven’t been on this trail for a couple of years.  Sometimes when you don’t hike a trail for a while, it seems almost new again.

Up until about 2 weeks ago, the crest of the mountain has been getting rain every few days – socked in with thick clouds.  But on this day, it was crystal clear.  Because of all the rains, the trail was very lush.


Miss Scarlett blends in with the lush vegetation

It is a shady trail to hike in the summer, but still has lots of wildflowers blooming in the spots of sunshine.  There were lots of Orange Skipperlings flying about.  I managed to get a nice shot of one in a spot of sunshine.

The winter weather and winds of the spring took their toll on the trail in places.  There were a lot of fallen trees blocking the path.


Lots of fallen trees – as you can see, Scarlett had a much easier time navigating the trail 🙂

I heard a lot of Ruby-Crowned Kinglets singing but never did see any to photograph.  But a House Wren made a brief appearance.  I heard a Golden-Crowned Kinglet but never saw it.  Which was disappointing as it would have been a lifer for me.


House Wren

About a mile into the hike you finally get to see some view of Albuquerque and the Rio Grande Valley 10,000 feet below you.  The photos are a bit hazy because of the Dog Head Fire burning about 25 miles south.  The fire is only about 10 miles from my house.  Yikes!


Dog Head Fire as seen from the top of the hill behind my home.



View of Albuquerque and the Rio Grande Valley

I always seem to stop at the same point on this trail…right where another trail intersects it and it’s a big clearing.  I had hoped to go further down the trail this day, but soon realized why I always turned around at this point.  I’ve hiked 2.5 miles to get to this spot.  That means my total hike is 5 miles.  I could probably go further, but it’s almost all uphill on the way back…ugh!

Someone came walking by while I was taking the photographs above.  I asked him if he would take a picture of Scarlett and I.  I didn’t do my hair today because I was supposed to be wearing a hat.  But silly me left the hat in the car.  Ah well….


Me and Scarlett

While in the clearing, there were lots of birds about singing at the tops of trees.  I managed to get a couple photos of some close by.


Yellow-Rumped Warbler


Spotted Towhee

I was appreciating the abundant shade on the way back as the day had really warmed up.  I lingered in the aspen grove as it was so beautiful.


Beautiful Aspen trees

On the way down the mountain, I decided to stop at Capulin Spring to see if there were any birds wanting a drink during the hot afternoon.  I wasn’t disappointed.  Lots of birds came by for a drink.  It was the usual culprits there except for a very vocal MacGillivray’s Warbler.


Northern Flicker


Dark-Eyed Junco


Western Tanager


Ruby-Crowned Kinglet


MacGillivray’s Warbler


MacGillivray’s Warbler

Just before leaving the spring, a Broad-Tailed Hummingbird made an appearance.  I notice they always want to drink right where the spring drips into the log.  Which is bad because you can see all the plumbing gets in the way.  Whenever I am there, I try to do a little maintenance around the log.  Clean up any grasses overgrowing the log and trim any branches in the way of photographs.  I also move the rocks around to hike the plumbing.  But somehow these rocks get shoved aside between visits.  I’m guessing it must be bears but who knows?! So I made a mental note after looking at my photographs to see what I could do to improve the looks of that pipe where the hummingbirds like to drink.  But here’s the photos I did take.  Still pretty as the sun was shining on the back of the bird making those beautiful jeweled feathers shine.


Broad-Tailed Hummingbird


Broad-Tailed Hummingbird

Heading further down the road I decided to hike up to Bill Spring to see what butterflies might be enjoying the mud. On the way I saw I very pregnant Mule Deer feeding along the side of the road.  I clicked a quick photo while driving by.


There were lots of butterflies flying about at the spring.


Weidemeyer’s Admiral


Question Mark


California Sister


Underside of California Sister


Red Admiral


Silver-Spotted Skipper


Clouded Sulpher

There were a few birds that made an appearance at the spring as well.  The chipping sparrow was there the whole time gorging himself on all the bugs flying about the water’s edge.


Chipping Sparrow


American Robin


Black-Headed Grosbeak

By this time I had hiked 7 miles.  Scarlett was pooped!  She napped the whole time I was photographing butterflies at Bill Spring.  She was a very happy dog! It was a very fun day!



Trip to Denver – Part 1: Bishop’s Castle

Last weekend Valerie and I drove to Denver for a Scrapbook Expo.  We left early so we could see the sights along the way.

We both had always wanted to see Bishop’s Castle in the mountains outside Colorado Springs. It is a very unique place to see.  The builder works iron as a hobby.  Since the 1970s he has been transforming scrap iron into a castle structure.  Anyone can visit at anytime but you climb at your own risk.

As we drove into the San Isabel forest we were delighted to see the aspen trees were turning. So of course we had to stop for photo op.


Kelly and Valerie


Gotta love a selfie 🙂


Me 🙂

As we drove up the road we came upon Lake Isabel. It was a stunning mountain lake.  I so enjoy photographing scenic lakes! This one was extra nice with the fall colors.


Lake Isabel

After the lake we finally made it to Bishop’s Castle.  It’s literally on the side of the road.  We couldn’t wait to explore!


I first started by climbing these steep stairs to the 2nd floor.  I never thought I had a fear of heights. But let me tell you….this place scared me!  Most of the time you are walking on expanded metal flooring. So you can see through it….all the way down…yikes!

The 2nd floor was beautiful.  I loved the ceiling and all the windows.






From this floor you can access the several turrets and wrap around walkways. From one of these outside walkways we could see the dragon clearly.


View looking up roofline to a turret and scary walkway


Castle dragon made from fireproof tiles

Valerie was much more brave than me…look how she trusts that flimsy walkway!?!  Yeah….that looks really secure since that rope railing is there…….right……


My crazy friend!

After walking the outside walkways we decided to climb a turret.  The steps inside were OK because I could hang on to something while I climbed so I felt pretty good until we climbed up to the top and looked down….oh my….


Valerie on turret steps




Looking up stairwell in turret