The Climb

Hiking in New Mexico - Santa Fe Baldy

Hiking in New Mexico – Santa Fe Baldy

One does not simply walk up Mount Baldy.

Especially when one can’t quite remember the last time she hiked. Sure, we’ve got the gear, and we do go on the occasional hiking kicks, but we hadn’t recently. Nor had that well-intentioned winter workout regimen ever really gelled this year. Hiking Santa Fe Baldy is an all-day, 14-ish mile excursion. While the elevation gain is actually somewhat modest by mountaineering standards––around 2,000 feet––the approach there and back is no minor undertaking. This is a hike you prepare for. Continue reading

Lunar Love

moon_7357“Reflection, intuition, emotion, sexuality and madness belong to the moon….”

Fellow lunatics—those who have (more than once) driven off the road or walked into a tree at first glimpse of moonrise, those who find reasons to use the word “gibbous” as often as possible, those who have lost all track of time or burst into tears while gazing at (and talking to) the moon, those who consider light pollution virtually sacrilegious and prefer to find their way by moonglow, those who feel moontide in their blood and moonphase in their bones, those who have a little werewolf inside who insists on howling, yipping or otherwise serenading full moons—this story is for you.

Long before electric lights pushed against the darkness of night with their unwavering yellow glare, the pale, silver-blue light of the moon must have been awesomely and incomprehensibly dazzling. Little wonder, then, that the ancients looked upon the moon and saw the face of a goddess (or, less commonly, the face of a god). The Greeks alone knew at least as many as eight moon deities—lunar goddesses or goddesses with lunar aspects—some of whom were derived from the earlier Minoan tradition. Ariadne was one of these. Known on Crete as Aridela (“utterly bright”), she was the moon at the center of the labyrinth.

Anyone who has walked the unicursal path of a labyrinth knows that labyrinth-walking is a contemplative practice, each step a meditation. The slow, spiralic labyrinth—coiling, doubling back, furling and unfurling—encourages deep thought and reflection. Hence its association with the moon, the most radiant reflective phenomenon we know. Although we often use the words interchangeably, a labyrinth is not a maze. When we lose our way in a labyrinth, we get lost psychologically, not physically, in its myriad twistings and turnings. We lose ourselves in quiet introspection. Whatever Minotaur we meet is the dangerous darkness within that we fear and attempt to contain. Continue reading

Let It Snow! Skiing in New Mexico


_DSC3862I’ve been a downhill skier all my life, starting at the age of four when my parents first put me on the bunny hill and I promptly plowed into a group of skiers, knocking them around like so many bowling pins. I wasn’t deterred, though, and not just because my grandfather owned the ski shop at Camelback, in the Pennsylvania Poconos, resulting in free ski passes every year. I simply fell head-over-heels in love early on with the thrill of the hill.

There’s something meditative about the act of skiing your way down a mountain, racing the wind, challenging yourself to ski harder, faster, better. Gliding through the glades in solitude, it’s easy to turn inward and discover more about who you are and where you’re headed. Out there alone, in nature, meeting the elements, you can let go of whatever might be bothering you. Out there, alone, with the trees, the snow, and the sky above, you may feel alone, but you are never lonely. Continue reading

Santa Fe and Chile Fiesta’s Gran Fondo

12063762_1192261697456536_4582515969682001099_nWrapping up this month’s week-long extravaganza of good cheer, otherwise known as The Santa Fe Wine & Chile Fiesta, will be the third Annual Gran Fondo Bike Ride. If you’re into road biking and would like to hang with a great crew of celebrity chefs, vintners and pro riders, you might want to take it easy Saturday night, as the event starts at Four Seasons Rancho Encantado at 6:30 a.m., Sunday the 25th, with your pick of 45-, 75- or (for the extra-motivated) 100-mile loops.

I recently caught up with two celeb riders to get the scoop. Tim Duncan is executive VP of sales and marketing at Silver Oak Cellars in Napa Valley. The winery, a long-time participant in Wine & Chile, was founded in 1972 by Tim’s dad and has made a name for itself producing, as reported in the WSJ, an “upfront” Cabernet Sauvignon. Tim’s been into cycling since he was a kid, and has done three centuries this year. “The most recent one was called ‘The Death Ride’ in the Sierra Mountains south of Lake Tahoe. It’s a tough one,” he says. “A hundred twenty-eight miles, and 15,000 feet of climbing, all in one day. So my buddies and I seem to think that’s fun.”

While chef and owner of The Compound, Mark Kiffin, was taking a breather between lunch and dinner in the kitchen office, we met for a talk. “I started cycling in Pebble Beach,” Mark says. “When I opened up the Inn at Spanish Bay, which was in ’87 to ’89. It was a sport I enjoyed and was pretty good at—for me.” Mark continues, revealing his great sense of humor, “It got me out of playing golf. I’m like, ‘Oh good! I can do this and I don’t have to do that any more.’ Learning to golf in Pebble Beach is like learning to ski on the top of Aspen Mountain. No pressure at all!”

Riding, it turned out, provided Mark with a much-needed release from work. “What I like about riding a bike is there’s one seat,” he explains. “When you’re in the hospitality business—and I love this business, I’ve been in it my entire life, but I go out to dinner six nights a week basically; I just want to go by myself. You have to learn, ‘Be here now.’ Stay focused. Ride your ride.” Continue reading

Monsters of the Taos Box

Fishing Report by Taylor Streit

My girlfriend and I had been diverted south from our Colorado wanderings by an early snow fall to New Mexico. Being a typically ignorant Yankee concerning matters of landscape, I didn’t even know that there was running water in New Mexico––let alone a “Big River” running down the middle of it. But on the second day I was ever in wondrous New Mexico my course was set for the next fifty years by a Santa Fe motel clerk who told me that there were “huge trout in the Taos Box.”

Santa Fe was a sleepy village then—but it’s changed now, and the fellow at the hotel is now a “concierge” and not a clerk. And what was once the historical center of Americas West’ has now been reduced to one of the world’s great shopping destinations. It was too much of a town for me even back then—let alone now, and when we drove north and peered into this mysterious Taos Box we rented a house for $35 a month—as close to the “Box” as possible.

But I still couldn’t figure out how to catch the big trout––not until a fisherman named Charlie Reynolds showed me how. And even then it was still on the outskirts of the Box and I suspected that there were some real Rio monsters swimming in the ten miles I had barely fished. Few people—way few—go in there. In fact, probably less fish it now then back in the olden days. Yes, many have rafted through it and they have hooped and hollered against the suffocating solitude but even that is drowned out by the roar of spring thaw cascading towards the ocean. When the Rio is finally in shape to be fished the water has subsided and the river is quieter––but floating it at low flow is suicidal. And why would one bother to go to that dreadful place of suicide–rock, rattler and rapid—anyway; when you can go “Santa Fe Style “ and shop your trout; hire a strapping young guide who will pick you up in his Range Rover and drive you to a manicured pool. There you can catch fat fishes that are hand-fed without all the bother of butting up against raw nature.

But because we are running low on clean water and space to fish this may be the only sensible future for trout fishing. It is great that we have this arrangement as the wild trout fishery can’t take that much pressure. And fishing for pet fish has become accepted by even experienced anglers. And in truth stocked trout wise up just like wild ones if they are educated by being caught, and then, released.

But we haven’t gone totally pretend yet and I can assure you that this same guide—of the waving flaxen hair, shining teeth and Range Rover, is fishing someplace wild like the Rio Grande on his day off. And when he has really had it with the current state of civilized fly fishing he might even venture into the Taos Box! But even fewer guides—including yours truly––have penetrated much of the Box. Nor do we do trips there. There is plenty good fishing on the Rio Grande in places far easier to reach.

So when ya need a dose of untamed it doesn’t get any rougher. And the dozen miles between Manby Hot Springs and Taos Junction Bridge remains untouched—except by the span of the Gorge Bridge. Geographic hardship in the form of sheer cliff has made it so.) There are no elevators, (although someone wants to put in a zip line) no established trails, no little cabins, no springs or flat ground to camp at, and certainly no hand-fed trout. There are a number of places where a healthy young person can get in and out. Only a few know the way, like Taos’s own John Nichols and Taos Fly Shop guides Nick Streit, Ron Sedall and Chris Cantrell. Some of the trails are on the east side and that is all Taos Pueblo land, now closed to all. The west side is BLM, and although there is a road, you’re only supposed to walk in.

The Railyard—Santa Fe’s Family Room

COVERRAIL_32__klCommunity. It means different things to different people. It can be a neighborhood, a city, a club, a civic organization or a collection of like-minded individuals. There are communities built around religion, retirement, lifestyles, hobbies, residence, parenthood, ancestry… the list goes on and on. But the one thing that all communities share is human connection. Communities form when people connect with each other and find they have something in common, whether it’s where they live, their values, shared experiences or a mutual goal.

Santa Fe’s Railyard Park is that connection and interdependence brought to life. The 18-acre park began as a grassroots movement to transform the reclaimed brown field off Cerrillos Road into a thriving and vibrant public space. Thousands of residents engaged in the planning process and advocated its development. The Railyard Park was created by the community, for the community. Together, citizens reimagined the space as a multi-use park that would be devoted to cultural diversity and environmental sustainability.

That vision has been fully realized. The park was completed in 2008, and today Santa Fe Railyard Park is a flourishing public garden, outdoor art exhibit and events space for all Santa Feans. If the Santa Fe Plaza is our city’s living room, Railyard Park is our family room. Couples walk amongst fragrant orchards as children tirelessly cavort in the playground. Families gather for free outdoor movie nights. Students learn about local ecosystems. Residents tend plots in the community garden or pause to inhale the fragrance of the roses. Visitors admire our artistic displays and glimpse our high-desert wildlife.

Behind the scenes, a small group of ecologists, volunteers and community members known as The Railyard Stewards oversees it all. In collaboration with The City of Santa Fe, The Trust for Public Land, The Santa Fe Railyard Community Corporation, and the Santa Fe Conservation Trust, The Railyard Stewards manage the care of the park, while also providing a wide variety of educational programs and community events. Continue reading