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Saturday, 21 February 2015

The Devisadero Trail, Take 2


What I love about this life is that no matter how much you know – or think you know – every day is an education. It just never stops.

I had this bright idea for today. I’ve been writing like a demon all week and deserved a holiday. I would hike the whole of the Devisadero Trail. I would start good and early before it got muddy, set out at nine and be back for one.  That was the theory. The trail starts out like one of those paths you just want to follow. Nice and easy.

 

 

You see what I mean? And the weather – yes, the weather certainly helps. This is February, for God’s sake!

And then, less than a mile out, you come to the point where the trail splits. There’s the quick route to the top – which I did last week – and there’s the rest of the loop, which follows the northern, shaded side of the hill. That was my intended route today.


I think I got about 600 yards before I decided that I place a high price on my well-being. The trail had been well used, and the result was a long slick of packed snow, frozen hard – and, as we used to say in Lincolnshire, ‘ower slape’ (too slippery).

 

I turned around, and re-joined the path that sticks to the south-facing slope. Got to the top…..

 

 … and found a quiet spot for an early lunch. It was there that I spotted that rare Taos phenomenon, a cloud, and whipped out the camera, before it melted away.

 


On my way down I stopped to examine a few examples of the mountain flora. I was surprised to see oak trees at 8000 feet – although I do recall reading something about them in one of those ‘Welcome to Taos’ brochures. Can’t remember what type of oak, but there was no doubting that’s what it was.

 

 
I also spotted a few mahonia hanging in there (in England we call them Oregon Grape, for the purple fruits they bear in late summer). I am very fond of these: they have yellow flowers in the spring, very sweet-scented.


 

Later I was struck by the wonderfully vicious spikes on what I took to be prickly pear cactus. Further north (in Nebraska, for example) they tend to be green, with much shorter spines. But I’m sure these are the same species.


 
I was back to the parking lot on Hwy 64 (Taos to Raton and points east) earlier than I expected. By 1245 I was back at my casita brewing coffee. By 2 o’clock I was in town at a store called Mud ‘n’ Flood buying a set of crampons. Next time up there I will tackle the rest of that loop. That’s a promise.