Go Up, Cool Down

I can no longer pop my laptop or folding chair in the car, and drive 4000′ uphill in 20 minutes to cool off 20F.

To cool off the same way – going 4 of the world’s 7 life zones cooler – it now takes 2 hours of driving, though most of that change is in 20 minutes from Alamogordo. And I’ve still done that, though not nearly as much as I would like.

Enjoy the cool down to near-9000′ elevation Cloudcroft NM. And this mega-photo post.

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Trip #1 after Labor Day 2013 –

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for me, all this water was great!

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47F cooler than home at 2 pm…another reason for a mini-vacation here…
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the next morning’s fresh mountain air…another reason…
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nice storefront with a metal tub filled with sunflowers…those conifer-covered mountains…mid-60’s…
and the other reason to be here…but no horse to ride or hitch up in this old west mountain town…
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pretty, fall about to start…but 15 minutes out, I lost the trail and found the town landfill (back R)…oops…
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back to the old drawing board town, where I left my map in the car…
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see…some trail areas are narrow and overgrown, but now I can tell where the trail goes in this stunning terrain…passing the highway and camping area now, into…
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this former Colorado guy likes how this says it all…70F…
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only me up here, except a few early-season hunters miles below…
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a Verbena or Phaecelia relative?
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being recharged 6+ weeks after a long, stressful downsize and move…

 

This singletrack was a nice break from climbing, and quite the high comes from blasting downhill. Without 100’+ dropoffs and only spiky plants (like the ones I design with), to catch your fall. Though there are tree trunks in areas…

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downhill in all this greenery = a cool breeze…even more fast fun…
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Rudbeckia —? Or —?
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even a slight cool-down below, but work is calling…
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still not that bad on my neighborhood trail…fall almost here, too…

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Trip #2 early July 2014, with Elizabeth from Ohio …both of us needed a break from each of our brands of summer –

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4200′ and about 45 minutes north of El Paso – sunlight illuminating only distant Otero Mesa…miles of mesquite-covered sand hills between us…that sky…
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5000′-ish, a few minutes above Alamogordo…sotols, Beargrass, and Oneseed Juniper appearing…remind you of anything on recent posts?
speaking of recent posts…Dasylirion wheeleri left, D. leiophyllum right…rugged limestone as we go up and up…
6500′ – Fresnal Canyon…Fresno = Spanish for Ash Tree, Fresnal = grove or bosque of Ash trees…here, Fraxinus velutina

Note how those trees only line the canyon bottom, concentrating and infiltrating storm runoff…not on the dry slopes. Moisture-requiring plants low / dry-tolerant plants high is apparently too easy for some in the green industry, since the opposite is done in so many landscapes. I’m glad to be a simpleton :-)

8300′ – and up most of the way…the Mexican Trestle just below town…

Some very smart and skilled people figured out how to transport abundant timber and minerals 5000′ downhill in under 20 miles. I wish that level of innovation was more common in today’s world of the clock, worship of money (by those claiming to not do so), and those who control the above. Onward!

Elizabeth taking pics at The Lodge…that’s the light coming from the sunny Tularosa Basin far below and to our left…
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up to the top, 9000′ – The Lodge, while sipping my morning coffee…much cooler than El Paso at sunrise…
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yep, even met her later – totally down-to-earth

I almost wish I cared more about politics and asked her about some important issues to me. Her and I even share an alma mater. But I’m not this good of a shot – not even close – here.

About your delinquent NM Gross Receipts Tax forms, David…

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finishing my cup of joe, I strolled by the golf course…just past Independence Day weekend…

The high altitude might permit your drive from the tee to reach near the hole – say, Butterfield GC in El Paso.

well, maybe not that far…Kniphofia uvaria, months after ours’ bloom…
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the skies and conifers make this enchanting…
…but the landscape, well, think much watering…but people even did this in Abq, much warmer, drier and crazier in denial…but up here, still missing the mark…

Having lived in Colorado, my theory is that many mountain towns excuse weak design of outdoor spaces and plantings by having amazing natural settings. Then, that sickness compounds in more ways, even places far from such lofty scenes.

water, Shasta Daisy, oh my…and the NM and other flags…
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Day 1 hike starts – grass patterns in nature…
down through the woods…
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by more of that Verbena or Phaecelia, again…
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and even a few clumps of Penstemon strictus neomexicanus, a Sacramento Mountains endemic (thanks, Ted)…
a Quercus gambelii clump and some yellow composite underneath…
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climbing back up, a warm, dry slope with Prunus serotina?
it does look like a cherry…
and it seems too large for a chokecherry type of Prunus…
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so close yet so far (and hot), White Sands and the Tularosa Basin…
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coffee time before evening…
Day 2 hike – part of the Rim Trail, so mellow here…
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as the view opens up to the west, more wows…think “rim”…
Yucca baccata with Pinus ponderosa, quite the mix here…

With yuccas, there are snakes and rocks. Best to hit the mall…

turn a bend, a moist microclimate sustains moss, Abies spp. and leafy Acer grandidentatum…
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leafier, more of that Acer – Bigtooth Maple…
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are we in New Mexico?…the mountains in the Land of Enchantment are more than we were told…
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checking out the flowers and a butterfly?
as I check out the happy Quercus gambelii in the swale, with other montane companions…
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and that sky…
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or that sky, rain not even reaching into the Tularosa Basin…

Personally, I recommend ignoring opinions and altered photos. These are definitely that! Instead, take those ATV’s and stay somewhere between Santa Fe and Kalispell…only rattlersnakes, cactus and tumbleweeds here. The food is too spicy.

And the heat – summer all year, no seasons or change. Someone from the mid-Atlantic told that to me, and I bet she reads Conde Nast.

Someone else e-mailed me how the southwest will become uninhabitable. See? Visit Boulder, too, but you’ll need that wallet!

wow!

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Forgive my occasional jesting, as this is a welcoming place for all who enjoy its low-key manner. Just not for those in need of noise and excitement.

Now, tell me what you like to do, in order to cool down in summer. Even if it’s a cold drink, while reading the latest Conde Nast!

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4 Replies to “Go Up, Cool Down”

  1. Looks like a great couple of trips. I’m putting Cloudcroft on my list to see. Thanks!

    It’s cool, very peaceful, and almost dead during the week…why I like it!

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  2. That person who said there are no seasons in NM or CO, obviously has never been there. And, those people don’t deserve the food.

    Twenty years ago, we had a condo at Spur Landing in Cloudcroft, overlooking the 9th tee box.

    Since we lived in DFW, it was a ten hour drive. We decided it wasn’t working out too well, so we sold it.

    We were there last year, the week before Labor Day. We might have crossed paths, a week or so later.

    It’s changed a bit. Western Bar still the same.

    I do sometimes miss sitting by the fire, watching the clouds come pouring down the hill. It’s a beautiful place. And, such a difference from the basin below.

    Thanks for the tour.

    This year, it’s up to Glacier NP. If we weren’t picking up friends at the airport in Kalispell, I wouldn’t have gotten that reference. :)

    She claimed living in Las Cruces for 15 years, must have disliked their lack of big fall foliage, winter snow, so to her all summer? Las Cruces = 4 seasons, more of a “hit and run winter”, as you say. But with 80+ below 32F nights and a record low of -10F, they get some winter. Their growing season 30 days longer than Albuquerque.

    My first year in Abq, I asked someone when fall would arrive…he said to feel like an eastern fall, to wear a sweater or jacket more, it’s November. 21 years later, it’s fall when it’s not 90+ every day!

    How funny, especially that we were a week apart. In tiny Cloudcroft, I would recognize you and Mr. P from the your blog…then it would be a really small world! 10 hours is far unless you can go up to stay for a week at a time often.

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  3. Hi Q., That was probably Penstemon neomexicanus, endemic to the Sacramento Mountains, yet fairly common there. Enjoying the heat here at home, a mere 102F yesterday. Why would anyone want to cool down? E,

    You’re right on the penstemon…being corrected. And it could be hotter…not much…but it could be!

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  4. Thanks for the photo tour. Living in flatland territory I do adore those long views.

    David as you can personally attest, everybody should stay clear of Austin, too. Food here is awful, the people are churlish and summer lasts all year long. Folks should try the coast, maybe. Anyplace but here.

    I like to sit out on a well shaded deck with a huge glass of iced anything between 4 and 5 pm. Keeping still and sipping a cold beverage, I can accommodate just about anything the heat can dish out.

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