Tuesday, June 16, 2020

Covering ground

It was a travel and exploration day, a day of prepositions. Into a canyon, through a valley, up the side of a mountain, down to the desert, over to a river.

I came down off the mesa and decided to see what the canyon at its base was like. Steep walls, a creek, a mixture of deciduous and coniferous trees, bad road, good road, bad road, occasional pullouts, a couple of temporarily closed campgrounds, some dwellings. All-in-all, a very nice place.

I continued north along the eastern side of the Sangre de Cristo Mountains, through the Mora Valley. Small farms and villages. Very sublime, especially in the morning light.

The highway turns west, back into the mountains. Part way up the grade, a sign points to Forest Service Road 722. Let me go see what’s up that way. The road hugs the side of the mountain, so there aren’t many places to turn off—at least not without serious 4x4 capability. But the views were wonderful. Alpine valleys, snow-capped peaks. I pulled into a trailhead, with no idea where the trail might go. I was immediately swarmed by flies. Sorry, no hike today. I’m out of here.

Things are more developed on the western slope of the mountains, increasingly so the closer you get to Taos. Nonetheless, it’s a gorgeous area.

But I didn’t want to go to Taos yet. So I turned south and stayed in the foothills to EspaƱola. Because that was the way to Abiquiu. Too bad the Georgia O’Keefe Home & Studio was closed for tours. Damn pandemic.

My final goal for the day was a designated dispersed camping area along the Rio Chama. Flowing water, cliffs, cottonwoods… It was closed, too, but I found a different spot overlooking the river. A nice place to sit out a few rain squalls, despite no cell signal.

This morning I moved up against some sandstone cliffs. No water view, but there’s a useable cell signal. And a non-functioning windmill. The double track in from the semi-maintained road is just firm (at the moment) dirt. The center is rather high, but the Rolling Steel Tent had enough clearance. So now I’m exploiting the cell signal, but if it looks like serious rain I’ll have to go elsewhere. More exploring.

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