Back in Bellingham

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.

East fork of Jemez River

East fork of the Jemez River          

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.

Denver University Alpine Club.

Denver University Alpine Club.

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.


Fire danger in Cibola is High in early May

Fire danger in Cibola is High in early May


East fork of the Jemez River.


Scorched summit of Rabbit Mountain. No S. austromontana up here!


Hanging with the Denver University Alpine Club at the Overlook in White Rock, NM.


Quick, someone identify that plant!


Beautiful columbines!


Desert blooms

Timber Peak

S. austromontana growing on the N. slopes of Timber Peak. It is not flowering yet.


Calypso orchid in bloom!



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