Sunday, March 20, 2016

Staying home: El Cabezon near San Isidro, NM

View to the SW from the flanks of the Cabezon

I've not posted on this blog for about 9 months. The reason is that during my last trip to Mexico, my mother suffered from a stroke. My sisters were around to get her through the hospital stay and rehab process, but it fell to me, as the only one of us who is retired, to move in with her full time and take over all the details of her life like paying bills and driving.

She has made a remarkable recovery, but will never drive again. She can no longer see well enough to pay bills, use a computer, or even read. So my travel-life has shrunk down to day trips here and there, with an occasional longer trip if I can take her with me.

Recently, I met my friend Tyler in San Isidro, NM and we took his 4WD vehicle out into the Rio Puerco valley. The area is full of volcanic plugs, the largest of which is called El Cabezón, "big head" in Spanish. They are all what is left of extinct volcanos that weathered away, leaving only the hardest rock, the solidified throat or neck.

It was still wintery, though a nice day. Even with the jeep, we couldn't go that last mile to the trailhead parking lot, it was too muddy. So we slogged in on foot, ate a nice lunch on a slope protected from the constant cold wind, and then hiked up to the 'shoulder' of the mountain. Further up the rocks require ropes and pitons. The views were outstanding. I counted about 24 volcanic necks in the area of varying sizes, and that was just looking to the south. From the shoulder we could see east to the Sandias and southeast to the Manzanos. Due south was a series of volcanic mesas, valleys, desert, and blue blue sky.

El Cabezón, southwest of San Isidro, NM

Tyler, in a plaid shirt and beige pants is almost perfectly camouflaged. 

The long tubular structures happen when lava cools very slowly over time, called columnar jointing.
This entire mountain is all that is left of a once large volcano.