July Days

One July day we set off to hike in the Nacimiento Mountains, southeast of Cuba, NM. Lee had explored a canyon there a few weeks earlier and wanted to gather some more information about the area. There are a number of unpaved forest roads in this part of the Santa Fe National Forest, but no official hiking trails.

Leaving Highway 550 about 10 miles south of Cuba, we navigated over several dirt roads up into the mountains. When we got to the turnoff for the road that Lee said he had driven down and parked along when he did his hike, we encountered a Road Closed sign. We backtracked and looked for other possible hiking spots. We finally settled for a walk up a canyon along an abandoned road and followed it as it climbed higher into the mountains. After a couple of miles we stopped for lunch, not having reached any particular destination, but just thankful for the beauty of God’s creation around us. It was an easy walk back down to the car, ending another great day of hiking.

Looking west towards Highway 550.

A couple of other day outings in July were for the purpose of visiting places that I had been learning about in the Geology class I was taking. We knew about the Ice Cave and Bandera Volcano tourist attraction in the Malpais, having seen highway signs in our hikes in the Grants area, but had never taken the time to stop there. It was interesting to learn the history of the area and walk to the Ice Cave and the edge of the volcano caldera.

Another day we drove to Dixon, New Mexico, and followed a dirt road into the Harding Pegmatite Mine. It is owned by the University of New Mexico and is open to visitors by making arrangements ahead of time with the caretaker, Gilbert Griego. We learned a lot from Mr. Griego before we headed out to do the walking tour.


The pink and purple muscovite and lepidolite were amazing, as well as the white quartz and beryl. Collecting is allowed and we brought home some interesting samples. As usual, though, we don’t have anywhere to put the rocks that we keep bringing home.
Some of our samples from Harding Pegmatite Mine.