This my second time to do this hike and the first time I've been on this trail in almost 10 years. A lot has changed over the past two. Most of the conifer forest was burned in the Silver Fire, and there is now precious little shade over most of the route. Deciduous oaks, survivors from previous fires, had just grown big enough to shade sections of the trail by the looks of their bent over blackened tops. They are growing back from the roots- survivors once again. Hidden groves of aspen burned as well,but are beginning their comeback and poised for their period of dominance. Weeds and grasses are flourishing in this El Nino year, as are the many saplings of various deciduous species, all getting a chance to grow in the sun of this newly open terrain.
It was a beautiful fall day,with colors arriving,fading and still a few yet to come even at this late date.It's nice to do a high country hike, after so many canyons and valleys. The views, greatly improved by the lack of live tree cover were fantastic. The majestically convoluted, rocky terrain of the Black Range was laid bare,a new reminder of just how rugged the range I've spent so much time in really is. An arch formation that was right off the trail, that I'd never noticed before also reminded me that there is still so much to discover here. So I will return to see how it changes as it comes back. It may be hard to countenance the blackened trees,but I realize that as long as I'm here in southwest New Mexico, it will never be too long between visits.