May 16, 2015
The expedition to New Mexico was a success. In 7 days, I sampled 9 sites, summited 5 peaks, and observed some beautiful country. On day 5, I was overtaken by a brutal snowstorm in Valles Caldera National Monument. One minute, it was sunny and warm, and the next I couldn’t see 5 feet in front me as flurries of snowflakes draped the landscape. I sampled a site along the east fork of the Jemez River (more of a creek by my standards). I waded through the ice-cold waters as the weather remained bipolar. At last I found S. austromontana weeping from the steep granite cliffs of the canyon and rejoiced, despite my frigid state. It was absent in the paired burned site.I celebrated with a trip to the nearby Spence Hot spring. There, in the warm waters under red desert cliffs the Denver University Alpine Club were resting after a long day of climbing. I got to talking with one of the leaders, Blake, who invited me back to their camp. Being surrounded by climbers, I immediately felt a sense of community. The next day, after a solo scramble up Rabbit Mountain, I met up with them for some cragging in White Rock. Back in Bellingham, I am preparing for a summer of adventures. The trip to New Mexico was a good introduction and allowed me to streamline my methods. Already, I long to return to the mountains. On June 21, that dream will come true. Matt and I will begin our 3-month traverse of the Rockies in search of flowers and climbing. More to come soon; stay tuned.