The Snowy Sangre

December 14, 2009

New snow on Tesuque Ridge above Santa Fe

New snow on Tesuque Ridge above Santa Fe

Winter is here in Santa Fe, and the ski bunnies were rushing up the mountain on Saturday for the official opening of Ski Santa Fe, with its 29 inch base, newly freshened late last week, as you can see in the picture above.

On Sunday I made a somewhat shorter drive up the mountain, to Hyde State Park, 8 miles up the road to Ski Santa Fe, which is about half the distance to the official skiing. Nevertheless, I soon wished I’d rented some snow shoes:

A walk in Hyde State Park

A walk in Hyde State Park

Hyde Park sits squarely in the heart of the mixed conifer belt that I’ve mentioned earlier when  I wrote about the Chamisa Trail. It’s one of New Mexico’s oldest State Parks, a cool and refreshing escape in summer, and a popular stop in winter to enjoy the less strenuous winter sports like ice skating and snow tubing. It’s also a good place to rent snow shoes and cross country skis if you are on your way up to Aspen Vista or the Nordic Ski Area.


My goal was to visit the little-known waterfall that cascades down a shoulder of granite on the east side of the park. I’d never seen it in the winter, and since it’s a short walk from the picnic area, I thought it would make a nice winter hike.


This was about the place I wish I’d rented those snowshoes. With about 8 inches of snow under the trees, it was slow going and I was rapidly getting damp boots. But since it’s not a long trek, I pressed onward and soon found myself at the cascade, which was entirely frozen over:


As you might guess from the scene above, my other goal – that of describing the interesting foliated granite that outcrops along this creek – was thwarted and will have to wait until a warmer day. Hyde Park happens to occupy the transition from the high foothills of the Sangre de Cristo Mountains to the more lofty and more rounded ridges of the Santa Fe Range, and there is a subtle geological reason for this that you can explore on both sides of the park. But not when it’s all buried in snow.

So I contented myself with some of winter’s smaller beauties:

Wild rose hips in the snow

Wild rose hips in the snow

and soon made my way back down to Santa Fe to warm up. And ask Santa for snowshoes.


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