Left Turn Next Time

Trail sign
Yesterday we went straight ahead at this trail marker. The next time we are on this trail we have promised ourselves that we will be turning left here. Our goal will be the summit of New Mexico’s highest peak, Mt. Wheeler. We have intended to do that hike for quite some time but never seem to get around to it before the weather gets too cold.

The trail marker is just a 2-mile hike from the parking lot at Taos Ski Valley. It’s at the edge of the lake’s basin and just a short walk from there you find yourself overlooking the small sub-alpine lake.

Williams Lake
Williams Lake

We were on the hike with a dozen other people, not so much as a hiking expedition, but as a field trip with the Native Plant Society of New Mexico. The society’s annual conference this year was in Taos and we took advantage of the location to learn more about the area.
Plant people2

Plant people
Lee is the one taking notes as the leader explains details of the plant.

Of course, the main reason to attend the conference is to learn more about native plants. For someone like me, the field trips are interesting, but they can be a challenge because of the slow pace. Lee is a much more serious scholar, taking notes and asking questions and sharing what he has learned.

I do know that this is a Purple Aster and a Bellflower. Purple asters are everywhere this time of year. The bellflower is more elusive, hiding at the higher elevations.
Bellflower

The prettiest flowers around Williams Lake were the Gentian, but I couldn’t get a picture that did justice to their beautiful blue color.

Gentian (have to ask Lee which one of the types it is)

We had a nice lunch at the edge of the lake before heading back down. I kept gazing at the view of Wheeler Peak across the lake. One of the women in the group has hiked up to Wheeler Peak a number of times and she could point out where the trail goes after you take that left hand turn back at the junction. One of these days I will get up there.

Wheeler Peak
View of Wheeler Peak from Williams Lake.

A few of the aspens on the slopes were beginning to change colors.
Fall colors
The photo below doesn’t have anything to do with the field trip to Williams Lake. There were other scheduled activities for the 3 days of the conference. Driving back to our hotel on Friday evening after a museum tour the sun was setting in the west, adding a golden color to the mountain range east of town.
Sunset
Driving home from the conference we took what’s called the High Road to Taos. This was an interesting and scenic tour of yet another part of New Mexico we haven’t seen.

High Road to Taos.
View of Taos from Hwy. 518.

We didn’t even know that just south of Chimayo on Hwy 503 there is a small lake on BLM land with a campground overlooking the lake.

Santa Cruz Lake
Santa Cruz Lake from campground.

As always on our expeditions around New Mexico, we learned new things and added more activities to our list of future explorations.

Author: bjregan

Enjoying retirement activities. Main goals for retirement are to stay spiritually, physically, mentally and emotionally healthy.

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