Chupadera Wilderness Trail

The Chupadera Wilderness Trail on the Bosque del Apache Wildlife Refuge is a 9.5-mile hike ideally suited for a sunny, warm January day in New Mexico. Although today it felt like it was, winter is not over yet. This 70-degree weather is only supposed to last until tomorrow and then we are in for another stretch of cold weather. We had a free weekend and took advantage of it with this enjoyable hike.

We had hiked on this trail once before, but it is the type of hike you don’t mind doing over again. The only part that gets tiresome is on the way back after you cross the interstate and then you know there’s a 3-mile trudge across the desert to get back to the trailhead. Certainly doable today, but I kept thinking how awful it would be on a 100-degree summer day. Winter hiking has a lot of advantages.

In the morning, at the start, the clouds to the north looked threatening, but the skies soon cleared.
Lots of desert to cross before you get to the climb up Chupadera Peak.
A strange looking cloud formation.
The trail crosses under Interstate 25 here.
Not Chupadera Peak ahead–the trail curves to the left.
Looking back the way we came. Water in the distance is some of the ponds at the Bosque del Apache Wildlife Refuge.
Interesting section of the trail passes through the red canyon ahead.
In the canyon. Red rock is solidified volcanic ash.
Looking back again at the refuge after passing through the canyon.
Getting higher.
At the top–view to the north.
View to south.
View to east.
View to east.
View to west.


Happy Valentines Day, from a New Mexico prickly pear cactus.
Happy Valentines Day, from a New Mexico prickly pear cactus.

Southern Exposure Addendum

Lee had taken some pictures on our trip to Las Cruces that I didn’t see until after I posted mine to the blog. This one was too beautiful not to share. It was taken Friday evening after we were leaving the parking lot where we did the Soledad Canyon hike.  The sun was setting and the clouds cleared just enough for the sun’s rays to reach part way up the slope towards the Organ Mountains.  Thank you, Lee, for sharing the photo.

And I will take this opportunity to tell you an interesting episode that ended our Tonuco Mountain adventure Saturday.

After the harrowing experience of driving through the muddy tunnel on the trip back from the trailhead, we still had to drive the 10-mile dirt road to return to the interstate.  About halfway there, I was startled to see this odd looking animal flopping around at the side of the road.  Lee hadn’t seen it and I wasn’t sure what I was seeing so I didn’t say anything until we had already passed it.

But I couldn’t get the image out of my mind so I made Lee back up to see if I could find where it was.  He stopped at a sandy place in the road because he didn’t want to back up any further and risk getting stuck. I jumped out of the car to run back and see what it was.

OMG, it was a large orange cat that had its head stuck inside of a glass jar!  It was terrified and ran for a mesquite bush when I tried to grab it.  I was screaming for Lee and grabbing for the cat and trying to avoid getting scratched by the mesquite thorns and the flailing claws of the panicked cat.

I finally managed to get ahold of the jar and the cat pulled and I pulled until I thought I would break its neck.  But, out it popped, and away the cat ran across the desert just as Lee came running up to see what was going on.  I was so relieved to have rescued that doomed critter.  How awful it must have been for the poor thing.  It looked like its head had been in there for quite awhile.  We were in the middle of nowhere and it never would have freed its head from the jar by itself.  My good deed for the day.