Thursday, November 25, 2010

First Snow

We got our first snowfall last night. It was less than a half inch. Winter is just around the corner!

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Where Did It Come From?

What animal produced this? A bear?

We went on a great ride Sunday into the foothills of Sandia. It was pretty remote with lots of signs of mammal life--footprints and evidence of cougars (scat, tracks). Scat like this kept showing up. It looks like berry seeds and was reminiscent of a sketch of bear scat in my scat field guide.

Any ideas?

The Girls In Print

A few months ago I responded to a survey by the lovely folks at Homegrown Evolution regarding urban permaculture. Much to my chagrin, Erik Knudsen from Homegrown thought some of my quotes were worthy for an article he was writing. A bit later I was contacted by an editor from Urban Farm magazine asking for some photos that might go with urban permaculture and my responses to Erik's survey. The only pics I really had on had were of the chickens and this photo was chosen:

So, not only are some of my words going to be in print, but a large, glossy pic of the girls will be too. If you are interested in urban permaculture, or urban farming in general, Urban Farm magazine is a good resource. Erik's article will appear in the Jan/Feb issue. We got an advanced copy and the article is great and the girls look good, too.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Right In Our Backyard

The East side of Sandia Mountain as seen above Otero Canyon.
Every weekend for the last month or so we've been heading North to the Jemez Mountains for some backcountry singletrack. Lane met a former pro rider who created miles of singletrack throughout this part of the Santa Fe National Forest. He doesn't refer to these trails as "rides" but rather, "adventures" and we learned why. With photos of waypoints, a map and a compass we headed off for our "adventure." Luckily we have some orienteering skills because the trails had practically disappeared, rendering the photos useless at times. The next few trips we took a GPS and had much greater success. Hopefully we'll have some photos to share from that area soon. It's quite beautiful and has become a favorite destination of ours.

With all of that traveling, however, we thought this weekend we'd stick closer to home. The village of Tijeras lies just East of Albuquerque and is home to a portion of the Cibola National Forest. The first time we visited Albuquerque we camped in this part of Cibola. In fact, the photo in this blog's title banner was taken on that trip! At 6,300 feet Tijeras has junipers and pines, yucca and prickly pear, cougars and bears. Fortunately, no large mammals were sighted on this trip.

Mountain bikers are allowed on many of the trails in Cibola National Forest and today we tackled a short 8 mile loop from Tunnel Canyon to Otero Canyon. The climb out of Tunnel Canyon was, for the most part, gentle with some loose, rocky sections and offered sneak peeks of Sandia off to the North. It is incredible how different the mountain looks from this side as compared how it appears from the valley. In the valley it looms above the city, rocky and impossibly steep. From the south its flanks rise up gently blanketed in pines.

The climb brought us to the top of a ridge with spectacular views of Sandia and the surrounding area. The picture at the top of this post was from this point as is this photo:

 The temperature hovered around 60 and the autumn light was perfect. I was so glad we got to be in the mountains today.

 I neglected to mention that we've traded in our stiff 80s bikes for 90s models with front suspension. I feel like I can take on almost any terrain without worrying about rattling my brain. Here I am on my "new" bike. The frame is a Soma Groove, for those who have an interest in that kind of thing.

The frame is smaller than my last mountain bike, so I look kind of gigantic on it. I think this is to my advantage on steep, rocky descents, however.

This is Lane's new bike. It's a Voodoo Hoodoo and the color is really spectacular.
This area was so easy to get to that we're already planning another trip for tomorrow. If you're in the Albuquerque area, Two Wheel Drive sells the map for Cedro Peak and Otero Canyon.

Happy trails!

Friday, November 19, 2010

Cozying up to Fall

Fall is here.

The mornings hover around freezing and most days the last of the acequia water has turned to ice. Hot tea and oatmeal start the morning. The recent cold nights are causing many trees to suddenly loose their leaves. My ride to work has been in showers of leaves as I ride along the ditch. Some of the leaves are even still green. Fall comes fast here, I suppose.

By lunch the chickens' water has thawed and they are happily pecking about the yard. Temperatures are in the 50s and I can be outdoors in a long sleeved shirt. Packed in my pannier are my winter gloves, hat and coat that were required just a few hours earlier.

As the sun begins it's final descent, the temperature starts its sudden drop. Once the sun is out of site, the mercury plummets and the gloves, hat and coat are resurrected. The kettle is on for endless cups of tea and squash roasts in the oven.

The next day the cycle begins again. I love it.