Jan and Fred's Newest Adventure...May 2009 travel blog

Our day started out rainy; Fred had to prepare to leave in the rain again (2nd day in a row!) but after driving for a couple hours, the sun appeared and the sky turned the prettiest shade of blue. We drove from Dodge City to Walsenburg, Colorado and set up camp at a beautiful site in the Lathrup State Park. Our site has a great view of twin mountains in the San Juan range to our west; this mountain range is the youngest in the Rockies, since its mountains are “only” 60 million years old. Called Huajatolla (the breasts of the world) by the local Indians and Ferdinand and Isabella by the Spaniards who explored here, the twin peaks are 12,683 feet and 13,626 feet in elevation;. Our site also boasts a large magpie who must live nearby since he hung around all afternoon and into the evening as well. By the time we reached the park, it was a balmy 72 degrees, so we embarked on a two mile nature hike which was lots of fun. It certainly was more exercise than the neighborhood walks I take in Carrollton; our “lowlander” bodies could certainly tell we were hiking in 6000+ ft. altitude. We climbed up to the ridge, passing sandstone formations, yucca, cholla, prickly pear, and tiny purple and yellow wildflowers that dotted the fields. As we climbed the switchback trail to the top of the ridge, we noticed gamble oak trees, pinyon pines, and one seed juniper, the three types of trees prevalent in the area. When we reached the top of the Hogback Ridge, we could see to our north an impressive view of the 12,349 foot Greenhorn Mountain, the tallest peak in the Western Mountain Range, and home to the Greenhorn Mountain Wilderness Area. We learned that the mountain is named for a Comanche leader who terrorized neighboring haciendas and pueblos, and who was killed in a battle with the Governor of New Mexico’s forces in 1779. The hike back down from the ridge was less steep and more gradual, but not as much fun as the first part of the hike. We both saw some of the candelabra shaped cholla cactus in bloom, and Fred, much more observant than I, even noticed some bear scat along the trail – we did not see a bear, but we found out from the ranger station that earlier in the day someone else had sited a black bear near the lake in the park. After our invigorating hike, we relaxed at the campsite, enjoying the views of the mountains, and thought about how lucky we are to be here!

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