The Great Northern New Mexico Loop
July 20, 2021
Hopewell Lake to Agua Piedra
We blew through Taos, the tourist mecca, without stopping, paralyzed by the number of cars jamming parking lots and spilling onto the street at every eating establishment. We headed south on NM 518, and entered a land as severely up-and-down as NM 64 was high and rolling. It was pouring rain and the temperature had dropped into the 50s when we pulled over at the tiny Sipapu Ski Area. Forlorn as are all ski areas in the absence of snow, it had a store where we picked up a few groceries, and a back patio where the jubilant Rio Pueblo rushes under a tiny wooden bridge.
Arriving early, we were able to nab two first-come-first-served spots at the fully booked Agua Piedra Campground.
The monsoon was primed and ready to put on quite a show for us!
The monsoon was at its apex here, and feeding a bewildering variety of wild mushrooms. This series of photos is for our dear friends and wild foods connoisseur, Marcel Lebeau and Christiane Tremblay.
Thistle be the last photo, I promise!
We enjoyed the Agua Piedra hike so much that the next morning we set out to hike another of the three trails that launch from Agua Piedra Campground. A steady climb (1000 feet in 2.4 miles) took us to Indian Lake (9500') and the most spectacular display of summer wildflowers we'd ever seen.
There was an entire field of Gunnisons' Mariposa Lilies.
I had no idea they came in so many colors, including this vibrant purple.
Of course we took a gazillion photos!
And then we turned around and saw the high peaks of the Sangre de Cristo Mountains. Patches of snow were visible on Jicarita Peak (12,835').
Near the summit was an actual lake, with water.