Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Today's Adventure at 8000 Feet

By calling today's outing an adventure, I certainly don't mean to imply that anything particularly exciting happened when we went up to the Lincoln National Forest this morning. The exciting thing to me is that we continue to include some form of exercise in our daily routine.

Today's goal was to walk and bike in the thin air at 8000 feet up. After Beez set out on his bike, I followed on foot. This is little Weetzie, my excellent hiking companion. We headed up (why is it always up?) this logging road, keeping a careful eye out for lovely deer and fierce, protective, and combative mother bears. 

At one point, Weetzie made an unexpectedly loud snuffly noise which made my hair literally stand up all over my head. Once I had ascertained that no mother bears were charging, we decided to wander back down the road toward the car, my chair, and a book for some nice forest-y contemplation. 

Looking closely at the ground, we could see that there were tiny little wildflowers, which you will hardly be able to make out in these iPhone photos I took. In my defense, I have a very difficult time making out what I am taking a photo of when then sun is shining on the screen. But, oh dear, I do wish they would be in focus just for once.

Think of these as impressionist photos of flowers.

The mixed pine, aspen, and spruce (I think) forest was beautiful (except for where someone had thrown empty beer cans into the woods). Everything was so quiet, except for the birdsong, the whirring sound of iridescent green hummingbirds going about their business, and the wind sighing through the pines. 

The smell of the piney air was delicious.

I must give a plug to the beautiful Sacramento Ranger District Visitor Center. It was like a lodge inside, with a stone fireplace and lots of natural wood everywhere. The rangers were friendly and eager to introduce us to their forest home. And I must say, the restrooms were pretty amazing, with advanced technology toilets that could flush two ways, depending on need--a water-saving feature for this drought stricken part of the country.

We met some people from New Hampshire out in the parking lot and, as people will do, established that we knew someone in common within the first 25 words of our conversation. It was a pretty good example of our small world. 

On the drive back home, there was a turnout for gazing at this view of the Tularosa Basin, with the White Sands National Monument sparkling out there in the middle. 

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Another Day on the Mountain

A clearer view than yesterday down to the Mesilla Valley

When I told you about how we hiked and biked on the mountain the other day, I pretty much gave you what my sister calls The Princess Bluebird version. Oh, yes, in a nod to reality I did mention panting and pesky flies, but I was going on and on about silence and solitude. What I didn't tell you was that after I got home from my uphill hike in the heat, I was violently ill. I don't know if it was the sun or something I ate, but it was very unpleasant, although I lost a pound (always good news). 

Destination: Organ Mountains, being declared a National Monument tomorrow!

Yesterday, we were back on the mountain, panting away on foot (me) and by bike (Beez). This time, however, we beat the heat by going earlier in the morning. The sky was also somewhat overcast, which helped keep things cooler. I found that my breathing was much easier, and the walk to the visitor center took less time and was more enjoyable. 

Hard to make out, but I had company on the road

I turned around to "admire the view" (catch my breath), just in time to see a small herd of deer crossing the road below me. I tend to keep an eye out for mountain lions and rattlesnakes, so these gentle fellow travelers were very welcome. 

Sunday, May 18, 2014


I've been going to the gym for the past five and a half months. If you knew me at all, you'd know that that statement should have a lot of exclamation points after it. The daily exercise has changed the way I feel about myself. I'm losing weight at a reasonable rate. I'm stronger and I have more stamina. My clothes are getting looser. I have more energy. I sleep better. I'm.... well, proud of myself! Yes, I am.

Along with the change in daily activity levels, I started following an eating plan that I got from my doctor. It contains lots of fresh fruits and vegetables, fish and poultry, and whole grains. Fats are limited to good ones; and the sugar is obtained naturally, from fruit. With small meals, plus a snack,  I find that I don't get that "need" for extra carbohydrates that used to plague me. 

If you look at the menu linked above, you will see that there aren't any fruit juices (too much of a sugar jolt), and there are a surprising (to me) amount of carbs. I guess the whole grains do the trick, keeping my body busy with digesting each meal. 

Because Beez is in training for a big bike ride from Telluride to Moab, he has been going to the gym, too, making it even easier for me to get there. Now, as his ride is getting closer, he is doing as much higher altitude biking as he can; and that gives me an opportunity to get out and do some hiking. 

And that's what we did this morning instead of going to the gym and exercising indoors. Here is my view as I hiked up (and up and up), looking back down toward Las Cruces and the floor of the Mesilla Valley along the Rio Grande, all in the hazy distance: 

My walk was all uphill at an altitude of about 5700 feet, all desert, all hot, and a challenge to me. Quite different from the treadmill at the gym! The payoff: Silence, solitude, a hot breeze, and birdsong all around. And yes, some pesky flies.

That dot way down there on the road is Beez (who started lower down than I did), battling the mountain, the heat, and the altitude. I think the next time we do this trip, we'll start out a little earlier, when the temperatures are a bit lower. It's too bad the gates don't open until 8AM.

And this was the view outside our destination, the visitor center at Dripping Springs. We want to do this hike/ride combination a lot, so that we can each measure our progress. The goal is to keep moving!