Soon I embark on my annual escape from Joklahoma’s miserable July weather. This trip will be similar to the one I took last year, with me heading out west to visit Santa Fe, New Mexico as well as Pagosa Springs and Durango, Colorado. However, this time I am sticking to I-40 for the trip out and back, avoiding the slower (and, thanks to feedlots, smellier) northern route through Dodge City.
Unfortunately, much of the hiking I had planned has been cancelled because the area forests have Stage III fire closures. I had originally planned to hike in the forest east of Santa Fe and then spend several days in Los Alamos to hike in Bandelier National Monument. But on June 26 a tree fell on a power line and ignited the massive Las Conchas fire. It has spread to 150,000 acres and is still not contained. Los Alamos was saved, but Bandelier is closed indefinitely as is the Santa Fe forest both east and west of town and the Carson Forest to the north. Sandia Peak an hour southwest at Albuquerque is also now closed to hiking.
So I’ll have to content myself with Santa Fe museums and the Plaza one day, and will hike the loop trail at the Audobon Center and Nambé Falls, which are still open. Then I’ll head north toward Pagosa Springs, stopping to hike at Ghost Ranch if any of its trails remain outside Carson Forest and thus still open.
I then head north to Pagosa Springs. Thankfully the San Juan Forest is still open with only Stage I fire restrictions, versus the Stage III closures in New Mexico. So I can hopefully get in a couple of days of hiking in that area. Last year I stayed on the east side of town. This year I’ve booked a room west of town at a hotel which should have better WiFi for uploading my pictures and blog posts.
Although the New Mexico forests are closed, they are still allowing the Cumbres & Toltec Scenic Railroad to operate between Chama, New Mexico and Antonito, Colorado. So I’ll ride the train from Chama to Antonito and then ride a bus for the return trip. The rails are another section of the same narrow-gauge line serving the famous Durango & Silverton train which I rode in 1991 and 2010.
Then I head west to Durango, where I’ll see a road production of Greater Tuna and probably spend a day taking the San Juan Skyway Scenic Drive. I may hike at Purgatory as well. The trip will then end when I drop down to Albuquerque to tour a bit before the long drive east back to Oklahoma.
Despite the forest closures, it should be a good trip; projected highs will be in the mid-80s compared to the continuing string of 100s in Oklahoma. And I’ll be getting away from town where I’ve spent many days on school activities, including some committee meetings, filling an open science position at our school, organizing the work of seven district teachers who are writing science curricula, and bargaining a new contract for Bartlesville’s teachers.
Photo Collections from Past Summer Escapes:
2005 – Washington State: Seattle, Mt. Rainier, Tacoma, Victoria, B.C.
2006 – Oregon: Portland, Columbia River, Crater Lake, Ashland, Salem, Redwoods of Northern California
2008 – Washington State: Seattle, Mt. Rainier, Victoria, B.C.
2009 – Oregon: Portland, Coastal Trails, Inland Trails, Newberry Volcanic Monument
2010 – Colorado: Pagosa Springs and Durango