Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Sierra Grande Lodge

We spent a Friday night and Saturday morning in T or C, staying at the beautiful Sierra Grande Lodge.We had a gift certificate from our kids, but the rates are very reasonable. The rooms all have a soaking tub(using the hot spring waters)which we didn't use.Instead we made reservations for two of the larger pools on the premises( guests are allowed 2 free private soaks at any of the six larger pools at the lodge), one indoor and one at their only outdoor pool. Both were very nice. We also had a good meal at the supremely retro Los Arcos Steakhouse. Los Arcos may be retro,but the Sierra Grande is definitely not. It has been completely redone and modernized. About the only thing left from days gone by are the walls and the windows. I believe it may have only evaporative cooling,which may bother those that really want to chill down the room. It was summer and maybe not the ideal time for hot spring soaking,but it was a fun getaway. We saved half the gift certificate for a winter trip,which will free up some cash for a meal and a bottle of good wine at the world class Bella Luca restaurant,which very happily,is a very short walk from the Sierra Grande.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Rio Trampas-Carson National Forest

Our second to last day in Truchas,we headed out again on Forest Road 207,but this time followed it to its end at the Trampas Campground.Several cars were parked at the trailhead, but no one was camping. They were all probably hiking to the Trampas Lakes on Trail 31. We took the same trail,which immediately took us high above the rushing and tumbling Rio Trampas. The trail stays on the east bank and ranges from about 20 to 100 feet above the creek until about 3 1/2 miles in where it leveled off and brought us right beside the stream.There is small shady camping spot here. Fish were visible in the much calmer flow. The gradient was slight compared to the several miles from the trailhead to this point, where the stream had been more or less one long cascade. Really that whole section looked to be an unfishable bushwhack with high water,large boulders and a very steep sided, narrow, creek bed. I guess with lower water, it could be tried,but it still would be far from easy ,and probably not much fun. At the first stream crossing we turned around. Although we were making much better time, and the trail was much easier than the one to the San Leonardo Lakes, I wanted to get back to the trailhead area to get a little fishing in before dinner time.So we left the lakes for another trip, another day.Back at the trailhead I tried my luck first upstream without much success.I then went downstream, at first getting a couple of bites,then one,two,three frustrating hook-ups,the last of which I must have had on for 10 seconds before losing the fish. A bit of panic set in,because I knew I was on the clock( my wife,who doesn't fish, can be very patient, and I'm learning not to push my luck as I get older),but it all ended happily when I caught a nice cutthroat on grayish elk hair caddis. My wife even came down from the truck and snapped some photos of me releasing my prize. I'm not sure what other species are in the Rio Trampas,if any, but that cutthroat was a beauty,and I called it day soon after. Downstream from the campground the Trampas remains fairly level,but is frequently encased in willows,with a very few open spots for fishing and pulling off the road. It could be alright for an afternoon or morning of weekday fishing, but I believe it's a relatively popular spot on the weekends. Still, I'm thinking if I was able to pull out a decent sized fish right in the campground,other, less traveled spots might be surprisingly productive.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Black Range Picnic

We went on a picnic to the Black Range a couple of weeks ago. It is still very dry up there,but at least it was cool, around 75, which was was a nice change from the 97 it consistently gets to everyday in Las Cruces. We ate at the Wright's Cabin Picnic area, and then did short walk on an old road. There are many,many dead pine and fir trees that have broken off during the windy season. There many more that are dead and are waiting to break off or burn.The mountain mahogany and scrub oak on the south sides of the peaks look dead dry and ready for a lightning strike. There were a few people camping at Iron Creek and Lower Gallinas. There were a few puddles in the creeks,but all in all, it's still a pretty discouraging picture. I'm still not feeling real good about visiting again until the forest gets more rain. There was a car ahead of us as we drove along the camping corridor that slowed down to stop on the highway(NM 152). I was a little peeved and perplexed until I saw that they were looking at small,scraggly cinnamon colored bear. Probably looking for a pickanick basket.IMPORTANT UPDATE: the lightning strike arrived on June 7th, 2013. This area is now within the Silver Fire and is currently closed.

Monday, August 1, 2011

La Junta Canyon-Carson National Forest

We drove to Taos and arrived just in time for the Monday lunchtime traffic jam. I looked around at an overpriced fly shop and then we ate lunch at the good New Mexican restaurant next door.It's called Ricky's and I recommend it. After that we hightailed it out of there. Maybe we'll do Taos another time when it's less crowded.We drove up NM 518 along the Rio Pueblo,checking out the roadside campgrounds and viewing the damage done by a very recent fire. We then headed up Forest Road 76 to La Junta and Duran Canyons. This is an extensive camping area in a beautiful meadow area of the Rito la Presa. There are a few campfire rings,tables and pit toilets.There may be water from a hand pump as well. There is a camping fee of 10 dollars and a day use fee of five.The campground in this and nearby areas are run by a private company and seem to be in pretty good shape despite the fact that they are very popular. I don't particularly like the idea of turning over the management of public lands to private companies but if it keeps places from being trashed by irresponsible people,it's hard to be totally against it. I fished for about an hour in the Rito, but only managed one ten inch brown. There are fish in these creeks but they're not crowded with them. I suspect this area gets fished pretty hard every weekend during the summer,but on a Monday afternoon we had the place to ourselves.