Come on along with us for 5 days of camping fun in the Land of Enchantment, where we had some weird and close encounters with botanical beauties, a bare-butted gopher, a swarm of bees, and voracious leaf-footed beetles! All this, and more while exploring a National Conservation Area, a Desert National Monument, and a New Mexico State Park, all within the Chihuahuan desert ecosystem.
After having just returned from a fabulous week in southern New Mexico (blog posts to come) where we hiked and hiked, and got reacquainted with the Spring-time desert flora and fauna, we seemed to be craving pine and fir trees and some mountain air. How high do we dare hike? Would there still be snow? These and more questions rattled about in my mind as we headed the truck up the 13 mile long and winding Sandia Mountain Crest Road (central New Mexico). Ahhhhh …… so invigorating!
Satisfying our craving (at 8500 feet in elevation) and answering the question about leftover winter snow (not a single snowflake to be found), we pulled up to the Tecolote Trail trailhead and began our ascent, in shorts and T-shirts. The first half mile up was brisk, both in temperature and pace, but after I was well warmed up it was time to open my eyes to investigate anything and everything growing, sprouting and blooming.
This was the earliest date (May 7th) in the Spring we’ve hiked Tecolote, so I was hoping to see a variety of wildflowers that were new-to-me species. I wasn’t disappointed! Blooming beautifully were the minuscule Pygmy-flower rock jasmine (in the primrose family), Arizona valerian (a species of honeysuckle), along with lance-leaf bluebells (borage family), and White Mountain bladderpod (a brilliant yellow 4-petaled member of the mustard family). Covering the slopes everywhere we’re the bright yellow flowers of Oregon creeping grape (aka creeping mahonia), and common along the trail were flats and flats of the dwarf purple and white lousewort (in the broomrape family), it’s flowers growing close to the ground amongst its deep green dense and curly margined fern-like leaves. Perky Sue (a happy yellow daisy) and the soft-like-a-teddy-bear prairie pasque flower (a type of buttercup) rounded out the bloomers that I could find.
These pages in my journal focused on the shrubs and trees showing growth alongside the trail, drawn from snippets collected during the hike.
It was a perfect morning for a hike! Wished you’d been there with us.
Until next time …… How’s your Spring is shaping up! Do you have a favorite plant that’s blooming, or a singing bird tending chicks? I’d love to hear your story.
P.S. This journal page layout was inspired by an amazing nature journaler, artist and teacher, Jean Mackay who loves all of nature and sharing her discoveries through illustration. Thanks Jean!
“The Full Moon of May brings bright brushes to paint the Earth canvas with infinite flowers. In the Full Moon light of this month, the flowers are said to grow at night, and even dance in honor of the moon.”