Nature never ceases to amaze me. We were hiking today in the Manzano Mountains, temperatures in the 40’s, clear skies and the usual, dry brown vegetation of mid-November. The trail had reached about 8200 feet in elevation on the shady side of a slope when I looked down at something white and shiny in a cluster on the ground. Closer examination revealed an intricate pattern of tiny, swirled sheets of ice wrapped around the stems and leaves of the plants. There were a number of different clusters all within a dozen feet of that one section of trail but nowhere else except that one spot. We had never seen anything like it and couldn’t imagine what weather phenomenon would have created these ice crystals in such a form.
A more familiar weather phenomenon that we experience in the Manzanos is the winds that can suddenly sweep through the canyons and whip over the top of the crest. We hadn’t expected winds today and certainly not the blast of cold that hit us after the first mile or so on the trail. Once we reached the crest we might have gone further on the Crest Trail and made a loop hike. But it was just too cold and windy and we hadn’t dressed appropriately. Turning around we headed for a place out of the wind where we could stop for lunch.
This New Canyon Trail was a new hike for us and one we will definitely have to do again. It climbs 1000 feet in 2 miles but the switchbacks keep it from being too strenuous. There are a number of burned areas as is typical in the Manzanos. On one slope in particular, though, we were heartened to see healthy reforestation taking place. The wonders of nature again as new growth springs up out of the ashes of a devastating wildfire.