Sandoval Signpost

 

An independent monthly newspaper serving the community since 1988
  Time Off
 

Remember snow?

Think snow

—Ty Belknap         

Thirty days and counting—no snow, another record. The $69 dollars spent on an Extreme Ski Discount Card wasted? I seem to be suffering from Sunshine Affective Disorder (SAD), almost longing for those grey Ohio skies of my youth.

Sad to say, the ongoing drought’s most tragic effect on me is in terms of lost recreational opportunities. I realize that my feelings are as shallow as the Rio Grande. Sure, it’s too bad that the Village of Placitas will probably be forced to ration water again and farmers won’t have enough irrigation, but damn it all, I want to go play in the snow! I want to float down rivers next summer and hike in the forests.

The winter started so good with ski areas open by Thanksgiving, just like the old days. We enjoyed cross-country skiing in Las Huertas Canyon several days in a row on snow too deep for most four-wheelers and cold enough days to keep it crisp. Other than a half day at Sipapu, we waited, as usual, for the snow base to build and the holiday crowds to go away, planning a ski vacation in January. Ski Sandia opened but cut back. Pajarito Ski Area may be closed indefinitely.

You have probably realized by now that I don’t have much of anything to fill this month’s Time Off column. I did the taxes, washed the windows, patched the parapets. Grumble, snort, whine. On the bright side, the weather has been great for mountain biking, though traction is poor in these dried-out desert sands. Passive solar has heated the house and the photovoltaics are cranking out the kWh’s. There have been many beautiful days to walk the dog—no snakes, benign weather, no worries.

Yet, I do worry. I was hiking up a dry trail in Orno Canyon the other day, thinking about the inevitable forest closures and the very real possibility that the Sandias could burn this year. Though there is nothing to do but enjoy it while I can. Some scientists say that reduced solar activity may soon plunge us into another ice age.

Snow is predicted later this week, and we have a ski-to yurt reserved in the Cumbres Pass for the end of January. By then, we can surely continue on up into Colorado and get our money’s worth out of the Extreme card. Maybe we can score a complimentary ski vacation at Vail. They must be desperate for a little publicity. Or we can score some legal Colorado pot (I’ve always wanted to try that stuff) and do the bar scene in a quaint mountain town. Stay tuned for “Marijuana Tourism in the Rockies.”


Unwind in natural hot springs

—Sandoval County Tourism Department

From primitive and secluded to luxurious and intimate, the Jemez Springs area (less than an hour from Albuquerque) offers a number of hot springs to help visitors rest and rejuvenate both mind and body. Almost all of the springs in the area are accessible year-round.

Within the village of Jemez Springs, about 41 miles north of Bernalillo, is the village-owned Jemez Springs Bath House. The nonprofit facility offers cool or hot mineral soaks and healing massages by licensed therapists in private treatment rooms. Prices start at $12 dollars for a 25-minute soak. Visit jemezsprings.org/bathhouse, or call 575-829-3303 for more information.

Along the banks of the Jemez River, Giggling Springs is steps away from the site of the oldest bathhouse of the region, constructed more than a century ago. The twenty-by-thirty-foot freeform pool allows for therapeutic soaking in mineral waters of 102 to 104 degrees. A recently installed Inversion Oxygenation System bubbles in the middle of the pool. This chemical-free disinfection method is part of an overall environmentally friendly attitude. Even the buildings are geothermally heated. Rates start at $18 dollars for an hour on the property. Visit gigglingsprings.com or call 575-829-9175 for more information.

Hikes to hot springs:

There are three springs on public lands managed by the Forest Service. Call the Forest Service-Jemez Ranger District at 575-829-3065 for the latest information, especially after recent snowfall.

  • McCauley Warm Springs, accessible from either Battleship Rock ( five miles north of Jemez Springs on Highway 4) or Jemez Falls campground (14 miles north of Jemez Springs). Park at either location for the roughly 2.5 mile hike in to the springs.
  • Spence Hot Springs is seven miles north of Jemez Springs. Park in the large lot on the east side of Highway 4, then follow the short trail down to the river and up the other side to the springs.
  • San Antonio Hot Springs is nine miles north of Jemez Springs. Turn west at La Cueva onto Highway 120. Drive about three miles to National Forest Road 376 North and continue on the forest road for five miles. Be especially alert to weather conditions before embarking on this high-elevation journey.

There are free daily hikes at Valles Caldera National Preserve from Magma to Magpie.

For a complete list of activities at the National Preserve, go to: vallescaldera.gov.

 
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