Chasing the Cumbres & Toltec

Silver City to Mount Taylor

August 14-15, 2022

Thirty-six years ago, I took a ride on the Cumbres & Toltec Railroad, and fell in love with the Southwest. Since then, I've always had a soft spot for North America's highest steam train, and we always stroll around the railyard whenever we're in the area. This summer, when wildfires closed all of New Mexico's high elevation National Forest lands, we zeroed in on the Chama area as a possible alternative. We heard reports of dispersed camping above 10,000 feet, and within earshot of the Cumbres & Toltec. The monsoon arrived early and the forest reopened, but by then we were fixated on Chama. We promised ourself a 10-day trip while we waited for the concrete for Dennis' ham radio tower to cure.

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Heading out.

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Of course, it's the journey, and not the destination! Our style is just wandering from one coffee stop to another. At Chubasco's, a colorful watering hole in Quemado.

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We got caught in a horrendous storm just north of Quemado.

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Of course, the campsite where were wanted to stay was full. So we redirected to our usual spot on the road to Mount Taylor. The next morning dawned surprisingly clear and sunny. And there we were, just a few miles short of one of our all-time favorite hiking trails. Madeleine wondering when breakfast will be served.

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Dyna handily negotiated the road to the Gooseberry Springs trailhead.

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Entering the deep aspen forest, about 9700'.

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In the meadow at the tree line.

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Looking down on the valley, from a field full of wildflowers.

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Close-in views of lush alpine meadows.

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About a mile from the top. We could see rain pounding Acoma, and planned to turn around here after lunch. But ... we didn't.

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The last quarter mile of steep switchbacks.

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We made it!

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Starting down, with a dizzying descent below us.

The Summer Wildflowers of Mount Taylor

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Aspen Fleabane.

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Yarrow with an ususual rosy cast.

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Common Harebell.

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Puffball Mushrooms

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Inkcaps

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Giant Red Indian Paintbrush

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Hummingbird Mint

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Lewis Flax

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Pleated Gentian

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Richardson's Geranium