Spring Snow in the Mountains

Spring can be pretty unpredictable in Santa Fe, going from warm and sunny one day to snow and hail the next. I saw a storm coming into the mountains and thought it might be my last chance to spend some time in the aspens while they’re standing in snow. It was about 4:30 so I walked the dogs and headed up as fast as I could.

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It was lightly snowing and pretty deep snow on the ground when I started climbing – the trail is strenuous at first; but then when one comes to the where the ground is somewhat more level there is a tremendous sense of exhilaration at how beautiful and hidden it is. The snow got stronger to the point where it was difficult to take photographs – but really really beautiful – and I thought I better start heading down as it was getting darker all the time.

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I started back, and then suddenly the sun broke through and the snow stopped. It was as if the clock had turned back an hour. So I wandered around some more – everywhere I looked it was amazing. Finally as the sun set I slowly, somewhat reluctantly, headed back down to the car. Such soul food up there!

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The White Place

I spent an afternoon and night at La Plaza Blanca, made well known by Georgia O’Keeffe’s affinity for the place and her wonderful paintings. It’s not a place that many people visit, especially in winter, and it was wonderful to spend a very quiet night (with the coyotes for company) and early morning there.

It feels like the world that we all live in these days is very far away here, and there is a tremendous beauty; especially when the sun has just set or is just beginning to rise. I am very grateful to the Dar Al Islam mosque, on whose land it sits, for allowing people to appreciate it.

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Jemez River Canyon

So here’s the thing. I’ve been a few times to this beautiful place where the east fork of the Jemez river travels through this beautiful little meadow with volcanic rock formations along it. But the trail stops about 2 miles in, and the river goes through a steep canyon where there is no room for a trail, and very steep cliffs. There’s another way in from the other side, but that stops at the canyon as well.

So I went out and bought some waders and strapped my crampons on them and headed out the other day. It’s a really beautiful place, absolutely quiet and remote feeling. It’s a little hard to tell from Santa Fe what the weather is going to be like, so it was overcast much of the time, but still very worth seeing.

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This is the entrance from the west side, where I had to stop last time.
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Looking down from the first cliff.
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Heading into the canyon
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this was taken by a Russian drone that went by
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I had to climb to get past a steep ice covered fall – this is the view from up there
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Sun breaking through towards the end of the day
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Hillside in shadow and sun
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Here I was following a coyote’s tracks the rest of the way
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Looking east looking back towards the sun hitting the trees
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Late afternoon light
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Lovely little meadow towards the end of the hike

Chama River Canyon

I spent an afternoon and then a very early morning in the Chama river canyon near Ghost Ranch, trying to get there before the cottonwoods started to lose their leaves. I was a bit late, but there was a glorious hunter’s moon, and a beautiful sunset and sunrise.

There were clouds covering the horizon when the moon rose, so I had a little time to drive up to the little town of Los Ojos to shoot before sleeping in the canyon and getting up early to catch the dawn, which was pretty amazing. Finally, there is a classic overlook on the river as one drives up the hill past Abiquiu, and i spent a little time wandering around there.

This was the last of the urgent fall photo journeys, so now I have a bunch of paintings to finish and some studio improvements….

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