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Tuesday, 24 March 2015

Some Hikes Around Taos


 
 
I hate waiting – especially when, as in this case, it’s for a report on a completed manuscript; but my reader friend assures me she’s on the case. Last week I decided it was time to get out of town for the first time in six or seven weeks. I rented a car and managed a number of hikes, starting with a stretch of the trail that runs from the Rio Grande Gorge Bridge, along the rim and down towards Pilar, where a much smaller bridge crosses the river. I would like to have done the entire 9 miles – and most likely will when I come back this way in the Fall, but at the moment it would require a car at  each end, and I haven’t managed to persuade any of my fellow artists to join me for a hike that long. It’s an easy enough walk in terms of the terrain, being essentially a flat expanse of sagebrush backed by a great view of the mountains behind Taos.

 
 
    (a Rio Grande panorama – with, yes, a step.)

A day or two later I drove down to Pilar and took a look at the other end of the trail. There are a number of gentle hikes there beside the river or just above it. After walking a few miles I elected to try one that climbs steeply back up to the mesa. It was advertised as 0.8 miles, and I have no reason to doubt that. It just seemed longer, being rocky, washed away in places, and often vertiginous. It took me 45 minutes to get up there, a mere 20 to return.

 
Sunday I went back to the trailheads beside Hwy 64, just a couple of miles out of town and attempted the climb on the shady (and snowy, and muddy) side of the valley.


 

The trouble with trails that zig-zag gently but laboriously up a mountain like that is that certain eager parties take shortcuts, and soon create a web of possible options that leave you spinning an imaginary coin and hoping for the best. And that’s how I ended up climbing the last 7-800 feet straight up through dense woods, occasionally on hands and knees, frequently polluting the Sabbath air with stern Anglo-Saxon phrases, until I made contact with the trodden path towards the summit. And suddenly the struggle seemed worthwhile: the weather was gorgeous, I’d had a decent lunch, and I’d risen to the challenge. And of course the outlook made up for everything.
 



 
There was even a first glimpse of springtime

 

 
Well, the car has gone back, and I still await my report - but the sun is out, my belly is full of porridge, so I guess it’s time to got to town and look for trouble.