Valles Caldera

2012

Just 20 miles west of Santa Fe, across the Rió Grande, Los Alamos is situated in the foothills of the Jemez Mountain range, at 7,300′ the same elevation as Santa Fe. Ten miles further west of Los Alamos is Valles Caldera, now a National Preserve and the oldest of only three caldera-type volcanos in the U.S.; the other two being Yellowstone, WY, and Long Valley, CA.

Valles Caldera was formed 1.25 million years ago by massive eruptions that spewed a volume of debris estimated to be 300 times that of the 1980 Mt. St. Helens’  eruption. Valles Caldera’s most recent eruption was much smaller, occurring approximately 65,000 years ago.

The north-south Jemez Mountain range runs parallel to the Sangre de Christo Mountains, and is the southern end of the Rocky Mountains. The highest point, Chicoma Mountain (11,511′), rises dramatically above the west side of the Española Valley; its impressive 1,400′ south face overlooks Valles Caldera.

Valles Caldera<br>Valles Caldera — 2012 Valles Caldera II<br>Valles Caldera — 2012 Valles Caldera III<br>Valles Caldera — 2012 Valles Caldera IV<br>Valles Caldera — 2012 Valles Caldera V<br>Valles Caldera — 2012 Valles Caldera VI<br>Valles Caldera — 2012

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Mother’s Day Rainbows

2012

Photographed during a Monsoon just south of Santa Fe in the Galisteo Basin.

Mid-New Mexico monsoons typically occur during July and August, and are generalized by sporadic, intense thunder storms, lightning, a whole lot of rain, and beautiful rainbows.

It’s not uncommon to hear the refrain that Santa Fe only gets 7-8 inches of rain a year, usually in about 45 minutes!

Mother's Day Rainbows<br>Mother’s Day Rainbows — 2011 Mother's Day Rainbows II<br>Mother’s Day Rainbows — 2011 Mother's Day Rainbows III<br>Mother’s Day Rainbows — 2011 Mother's Day Rainbows IV<br>Mother’s Day Rainbows — 2011

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New Mexico Favorites: Ghost Ranch 3/3

2011

Texture & Time

These six images complete my attempt to visually convey the 200 million year passage of time when Ghost Ranch’s oldest exposed rock became part of a collection of varicolored siltstone, mudstone and sandstone deposited by rivers.

Ghost Ranch<br>New Mexico Favorites: Ghost Ranch 3/3 — 2011 Ghost Ranch II<br>New Mexico Favorites: Ghost Ranch 3/3 — 2011 Ghost Ranch III<br>New Mexico Favorites: Ghost Ranch 3/3 — 2011 Ghost Ranch IV<br>New Mexico Favorites: Ghost Ranch 3/3 — 2011 Ghost Ranch V<br>New Mexico Favorites: Ghost Ranch 3/3 — 2011 Ghost Ranch VI<br>New Mexico Favorites: Ghost Ranch 3/3 — 2011

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New Mexico Favorites: Ghost Ranch 2/3

2011

Just imagine that this landscape has been a relatively stable block of the earth’s crust for 600,000,000 years; and further that the oldest rocks exposed in the Ghost Ranch area are part of a thick collection of varicolored siltstone, mudstone and sandstone deposited by rivers more than 200,000,000 years ago, when this area was located less than 1/3 of the distance from the equator than it is today.

It is no wonder that I can’t resist overlaying this landscape with my own sense of the passage of time…

Ghost Ranch W2<br>New Mexico Favorites: Ghost Ranch 2/3 — 2011 Ghost Ranch W2 II<br>New Mexico Favorites: Ghost Ranch 2/3 — 2011 Ghost Ranch W2 III<br>New Mexico Favorites: Ghost Ranch 2/3 — 2011 Ghost Ranch W2 IV<br>New Mexico Favorites: Ghost Ranch 2/3 — 2011 Ghost Ranch W2 V<br>New Mexico Favorites: Ghost Ranch 2/3 — 2011 Ghost Ranch W2 VI<br>New Mexico Favorites: Ghost Ranch 2/3 — 2011

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New Mexico Favorites: Ghost Ranch 1/3

2011

One hour north of Santa Fe is Georgia O’Keefe Country: vast vistas, table-topped mesas, tall cliffs, and winding rivers bordered by ancient cottonwoods.

Because this block of the earth’s crust remained relatively stable for 600 million years, the rocks around Ghost Ranch are generally flat-lying and less deformed by broad-scale folding. Situated within the broad shallow Chama Basin along the eastern margin of the Colorado Plateau’s transition to the Rio Grande Rift further east — and occupying parts of New Mexico, Arizona, Utah and Colorado — the oldest rocks exposed in the Ghost Ranch area are a thick collection of brick-red to red siltstone, mudstone, and white to tan sandstone, deposited by rivers more than 200 million years ago, when this area was located about 10 degrees north of the equator.

In 1929, Georgia O’Keefe first began painting part of each year in northern New Mexico. In 1934 she first visited Ghost Ranch; it’s varicolored cliffs inspired some of her most famous landscapes. In 1949, she made her permanent home on a cliff above Abiquiu. O’Keefe wrote in 1977: “Such a beautiful, untouched, lonely feeling place, such a fine part of what I call the “Faraway’. It is a place I have painted before… even now I must do it again”.

Nor have I been able to resist repeatedly overlaying this landscape with my own sense of the passage of time…

Ghost Ranch W<br>New Mexico Favorites: Ghost Ranch 1/3 — 2011 Ghost Ranch W II<br>New Mexico Favorites: Ghost Ranch 1/3 — 2011 Ghost Ranch W III<br>New Mexico Favorites: Ghost Ranch 1/3 — 2011 Ghost Ranch W IV<br>New Mexico Favorites: Ghost Ranch 1/3 — 2011 Ghost Ranch W V<br>New Mexico Favorites: Ghost Ranch 1/3 — 2011 Ghost Ranch W VI<br>New Mexico Favorites: Ghost Ranch 1/3 — 2011

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New Mexico Favorites: White Sands PM Capture

2011

The White Sands National Monument, located 300 miles south of Santa Fe at the northern end of Mexico’s Chihuahuan Desert, is nestled in the high-desert Tularosa Basin (4,200′ el.). Between the San Andres Mountain Range, to the west, and the Sacramento Mountains to the east, are the astounding white-white wave-like gypsum dunes, that over millions of years have engulfed 275 square miles of desert, comprising the world’s largest gypsum dunefield.

Between enormous upheavals in the Earth’s crust 250 million years ago, followed by the uplift of these mountains 150 million years later, these huge gypsum deposits were exposed. Rainfall and snowmelt then leeched out the gypsum, washing it down the mountainsides, to accumulate in Lake Lucero, the lowest point in the basin. Without outfall drainage, evaporation left behind layers of crystallized gypsum that prevailing southwest winds have carried up the basin, piling them in dunes as high as 50 feet.

Sand dunes are always striking as their organic shapes and patterns constantly change the absorption and reflection of light, but snow-white dunes are even more unique. Unlike most quartz desert sands, glistening white sands are composed of gypsum and calcium sulphate; also, unlike most beaches, white sand is cool to the touch, due to the high rate of evaporation of surface moisture, since the sand reflects rather than absorbs the sun’s rays.

This first series of images were captured shooting west as last light approaches; while in my next blog are of images shooting east, capturing early light. Equally fascinating is how low-angled winter light casts diverse color on the bright white gypsum sand. Shadowed low and flat light creates a bluish cast when shooting west toward last light, while early light casts an orange glow on the gypsum sand.

PM White Sands<br>New Mexico Favorites: White Sands PM Capture — 2011 PM White Sands II<br>New Mexico Favorites: White Sands PM Capture — 2011 PM White Sands III<br>New Mexico Favorites: White Sands PM Capture — 2011 PM White Sands IV<br>New Mexico Favorites: White Sands PM Capture — 2011 PM White Sands V<br>New Mexico Favorites: White Sands PM Capture — 2011 PM White Sands VI<br>New Mexico Favorites: White Sands PM Capture — 2011

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New Mexico Favorites: Bosque del Apache 1/4

20XX

Following almost a month in Eastern Europe, I’m so glad to be back home in New Mexico’s high country, above 4,000′ elevation, which includes much of central and western New Mexico.

Always exhilarated by high-desert light, I’m starting off this year’s postings by re-visiting images of my favorite New Mexico locations, beginning with the Bosque del Apache National Wildlife Refuge, which is fed by the Río Grande, 150 miles south of Santa Fe. Established in 1939, this is a protected migratory stop for thousands of snow geese and upwards of 15,000 Sandhill Cranes heading south in November, then returning north beginning in February for breeding season.

Early winter light warms the soft wetlands screened by the 7,000′ Chupadera Mountains immediately to the west; as the sun clears the mountains, thousands of Snow Geese’s cacophony builds until the Sandhills too, with their six-foot wingspans, begin to lift off in twos and threes, heading for the nearby grain fields to feed for the day before returning, as the sun sets, to the wetlands’ 2-4′ of water.

So, this will be the first of the 4 Bosque del Apache favorites.

Bosque del Apache<br>New Mexico Favorites: Bosque del Apache 1/4 Bosque del Apache II<br>New Mexico Favorites: Bosque del Apache 1/4 Bosque del Apache III<br>New Mexico Favorites: Bosque del Apache 1/4 Bosque del Apache IV<br>New Mexico Favorites: Bosque del Apache 1/4 Bosque del Apache V<br>New Mexico Favorites: Bosque del Apache 1/4 Bosque del Apache VI<br>New Mexico Favorites: Bosque del Apache 1/4 Bosque del Apache VII<br>New Mexico Favorites: Bosque del Apache 1/4

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Nature’s Ability to Amaze…

2003

Early one winter morning 14 years ago, shortly after moving to Santa Fe, amidst its wonderful high desert landscape, I was driving up Santa Fe Mountain’s west face to continue my photographic study of its extensive Aspen stands. Upon rounding a sharp curve in the road — I happened upon an astounding and sublime surprise: a “snow spiral” which apparently had formed rolling down the steep slope. Not certain what I glimpsed, I stopped to take a closer look. And having never before seen anything like it, I just had to capture it!

Nor have I ever seen anything like it since…

Enjoy! Merry Christmas

Snow Spiral<br>Nature’s Ability to Amaze — 2003 Snow Spiral II<br>Nature’s Ability to Amaze — 2003 Snow Spiral IIl<br>Nature’s Ability to Amaze — 2003 Snow Spiral IV<br>Nature’s Ability to Amaze — 2003 Snow Spiral V<br>Nature’s Ability to Amaze — 2003 Snow Spiral VI<br>Nature’s Ability to Amaze — 2003 Snow Spiral VII<br>Nature’s Ability to Amaze — 2003

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South Into New Mexico

2016

Further south in New Mexico’s high country — returning home to Santa Fe, where I have resided for the last 12 years — restraining my camera stroke enabled me to soften the the texture amongst the brighter colors…

South Into New Mexico<br>South Into New Mexico — 2016 South Into New Mexico II<br>South Into New Mexico — 2016 South Into New Mexico III<br>South Into New Mexico — 2016 South Into New Mexico IV<br>South Into New Mexico — 2016 South Into New Mexico V<br>South Into New Mexico — 2016 South Into New Mexico VI<br>South Into New Mexico — 2016

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Mexico Central Plateau

2016

West of San Miguel de Allende, the Laja River rises in the Sierra Madre at about 6,000′ elevation, arches east and then south through the central plateau, past San Miguel de Allende, where it flows into the Lerma River.

Looking east 15 miles to San Miguel across Presa Allende Lake — created by the Ignacio Allende Dam to control Laja River flooding — offers a wonderful sense of Mexico’s central plateau high desert landscape.

Mexico Central Plateau<br>Mexico Central Plateau — 2016 Mexico Central Plateau II<br>Mexico Central Plateau — 2016 Mexico Central Plateau III<br>Mexico Central Plateau — 2016 Mexico Central Plateau IV<br>Mexico Central Plateau — 2016 Mexico Central Plateau V<br>Mexico Central Plateau — 2016 Mexico Central Plateau VI<br>Mexico Central Plateau — 2016

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San Miguel de Allende (El Centro)

2016

Often likened to our very own Santa Fe, the small colonial city of San Miguel de Allende — 170 miles NW of Mexico City — was founded as “San Miguel” in 1542 by a San Franciscan monk, San Miguel El Grande. After it became the centerpiece in the war for Mexican independence from Spain, it was renamed San Miguel de Allende after Ignacio Allende, a hero of the independence movement.

This small city of 80,000 — situated along the Grand Plateau of Mexico, at 6,000+ feet elevation, between the eastern and western branches of the Sierra Madre Mountains — still thrives as the economic and cultural soul of Mexico. Spanish conquistadors ruled while the great colonial cities of Guadalajara, Morelia, Queretaro, Mexico City and Pueblo evolved during the Spanish silver mining era, later playing pivotal roles in the Mexican fight for independence.

Situated on a steep hill, San Miguel’s El Centro opens onto a lovely plaza surrounded by wonderfully colorful facades amongst numerous exceptional churches. It’s narrow cobblestone streets complete its nearly 500 year history, preceding Santa Fe’s recently celebrated 400 year colonial history as our oldest state capital (founded in 1610, also by Spanish colonists). Although Santa Fe is 1,000′ higher than San Miguel, both benefit from year-round moderate temperatures and exceptional high desert light.

San Miguel Centro<br>San Miguel de Allende — 2016 San Miguel Centro II<br>San Miguel de Allende — 2016 San Miguel Centro III<br>San Miguel de Allende — 2016 San Miguel Centro IV<br>San Miguel de Allende — 2016 San Miguel Centro V<br>San Miguel de Allende — 2016 San Miguel Centro VI<br>San Miguel de Allende — 2016

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Sangre de Cristo Mountains III

2015

From 20 miles north of Santa Fe, my third and final series of the west face of the Sangre de Cristo mountain range. President Clinton was fond of saying, “its the economy stupid!”

Well, in photography, it’s all about the light…

On this day, the sun was “out full bore,” and because my captures were slightly earlier in the day, the sun still cleared the Jemiz Mountain range behind me; sunlight shined directly on Santa Fe Baldy, the highest peak in this section of the range. Blending the highlighted west face amongst its shadowed surroundings offered a very different series of compositions.

Sangre de Cristo Mountains<br>Sangre de Cristo Mountains III — 2015 Sangre de Cristo Mountains II<br>Sangre de Cristo Mountains III — 2015 Sangre de Cristo Mountains III<br>Sangre de Cristo Mountains III — 2015 Sangre de Cristo Mountains IV<br>Sangre de Cristo Mountains III — 2015 Sangre de Cristo Mountains V<br>Sangre de Cristo Mountains III — 2015

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Sangre de Cristo Mountains

2015

Returning to one of my favorite New Mexico palettes — just twenty miles north of my home in Santa Fe — an accessible 8,500 foot ridge offers unobstructed views across the 2-3 mile wide valley directly into the entire west face of the Blood of Christ mountain range, from its foothills all the way up and beyond its 12,000′ peaks, which are so often crowned with a continuously-modulating cloud cap as the evening light descends.

An always-varying palette of color, shadow, texture and form…

Sangre Mountains<br>Sangre de Cristo Mountains — 2015 Sangre Mountains II<br>Sangre de Cristo Mountains — 2015 Sangre Mountains III<br>Sangre de Cristo Mountains — 2015 Sangre Mountains IV<br>Sangre de Cristo Mountains — 2015 Sangre Mountains V<br>Sangre de Cristo Mountains — 2015

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Texas Panhandle, Palo Duro Canyon

2015

Back home from China in Santa Fe; several weeks later I drove east across the high plains of Oklahoma and the Texas panhandle before heading south to Ft. Worth to see friends. En route, I stopped to have a look at Palo Duro Canyon, situated just south of Amarillo, that claims to be the second largest canyon in the U.S. Typical spring weather — wind and furious thunderstorms across Texas’ high plains — did not disappoint.

Early Spanish Explorers discovered the area and named the canyon “Palo Duro,” Spanish for “hardwood” due to the abundant mesquite and juniper trees. Palo Duro Canyon’s elevation at its rim is 3,500 feet; it is 120 miles long, 20 miles wide, and 800 feet deep, compared to the Grand Canyon — the largest in the U.S. — which is 277 miles long, 18 miles wide, and 6,000 ft deep.

Palo Duro Canyon State Park comprises 30,000 acres at the north end of the canyon. Water erosion from the Red River deepens the canyon as it moves sediment downstream, while wind and water erosion gradually widen the canyon.

Humans have resided in the canyon for approximately 12,000 years. Nomadic tribes hunted mammoth, giant bison, and other large game. Later, Apache Indians lived in the canyon, but were soon replaced by Comanche and Kiowa tribes, who resided in the area until 1874 when Colonel Ranald Mackenzie was sent into the area to transport them to a newly appointed reservation in Oklahoma.

In 1876, Charles Goodnight entered the canyon and opened the JA Ranch, which at its peak, supported more than 100,000 head of cattle.

Texas Panhandle<br>Texas Panhandle, Palo Duro Canyon — 2015 Windmill<br>Texas Panhandle, Palo Duro Canyon — 2015 Windmill II<br>Texas Panhandle, Palo Duro Canyon — 2015 Palo Duro Canyon<br>Texas Panhandle, Palo Duro Canyon — 2015 Palo Duro Canyon II<br>Texas Panhandle, Palo Duro Canyon — 2015 Palo Duro Canyon III<br>Texas Panhandle, Palo Duro Canyon — 2015 Palo Duro Canyon IV<br>Texas Panhandle, Palo Duro Canyon — 2015 Mesquite & Pinon<br>Texas Panhandle, Palo Duro Canyon — 2015

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Abiquiu Lake

2014

Abiquiu Lake is a reservoir located in Rio Arriba County 60 miles north of Santa Fe.

The Rio Chama was damned in 1963 to create the 5,200 acre Abiquiu Lake, which is more than 12 miles long  at an elevation of 6,100 feet.

From the bluffs along the southern side of the lake, the views north of the red cliffs that frame Ghost Ranch are just beautiful. Behind (south of) the lake is the very distinctive 9,862′ mountain, Cerro Pedernal.

Abiquiu Lake<br>Abiqui Lake — 2014 Abiquiu Lake II<br>Abiqui Lake — 2014 Abiquiu Lake III<br>Abiqui Lake — 2014 Abiquiu Lake IV<br>Abiqui Lake — 2014 Abiquiu Lake V<br>Abiqui Lake — 2014

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Galisteo Basin V2: Augmented Reality

2014

Continuing my visual exploration of the Ortiz Mountains, I have augmented each of these images with a stretched sense of the passage of time — in order to emphasize and meld the 30 million years consumed in their creation. Panning my camera of this small mountain range at shutter speeds of less than 1/15 second, takes me a step toward my own pursuit of Virtual Reality!

Augmented Reality<br>Galisteo Basin V2 – 2014 Augmented Reality II<br>Galisteo Basin V2 – 2014 Augmented Reality III<br>Galisteo Basin V2 – 2014 Augmented Reality IV<br>Galisteo Basin V2 – 2014 Augmented Reality V<br>Galisteo Basin V2 – 2014 Augmented Reality VI<br>Galisteo Basin V2 – 2014

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Bosque del Apache V: Early Light

2013

This is my fifth extended visit to Bosque del Apache, one of my favorite locations in New Mexico, 160 miles south of Santa Fe. Created in 1939 to protect the last remaining 17 living sandhill cranes, the Bosque del Apache National Wildlife Refuge’s selective damming of an offshoot of the Rio Grande has developed into nearly 100 sq miles of managed wetlands and adjacent feeding fields, providing a critical stopover for migrating birds including ducks, hundreds of thousands of light geese, and now thousands of sandhill cranes.

In late fall, the bird migrations on their southern trek stop to rest and feed, then return again in early spring as they fly north for mating season. With the first rays of sun, thousands of light geese begin stirring, until their deafening cacophony raises them in waves upon waves, to be followed by hundreds of the much larger and more majestic sandhills in groups of 10 to 20 at a time. Since they only fly to surrounding fields to feed for the day, once the sun begins to set, the light geese and Sandhills rise again and return to the safety of adjoining marshes for the night.

Low-angled winter light on the wetlands, marshes, grain fields and surrounding mountains presents a spectacularly soft tableau.

Early Light<br>Bosque del Apache V - 2013 Early Light II<br>Bosque del Apache V - 2013 Early Light III<br>Bosque del Apache V - 2013 Early Light IV<br>Bosque del Apache V - 2013 Early Light V<br>Bosque del Apache V - 2013

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White Sands IV

2013

At 4,000′ elevation, the 275 square mile White Sands’ dune field comprises the world’s largest surface deposit of gypsum. Located 250 miles south of Albuquerque, and just north of the White Sands Missle Test Center, White Sands National Monument is situated in New Mexico’s Tularosa Basin between two 8-9,000′ North-South mountain ranges — the San Andreas Mountains to the west, and the Sacramento Mountains to the east.

The white gypsum sand is unlike typical desert sands made of quartz, or sand found on most beaches. Because the white gypsum reflects the sun’s rays resulting in a high rate of evaporation of surface moisture, the white gypsum sand is cool to the touch.

Because of southern New Mexico’s exceptionally clear weather, Germany trains their fighter pilots from an airbase 20 miles SE of White Sands; often they leave contrails that contrast dramatically against New Mexico’s blue, blue skies.

White Sands West<br>White Sands IV - 2013 White Sands East<br>White Sands IV - 2013 White Sands West II<br>White Sands IV - 2013 White Sands East II<br>White Sands IV - 2013 Jet Contrails Over White Sands<br>White Sands IV - 2013

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San Luis Valley

2013

San Luis Valley — 8,000 sq. miles, averaging 7,600′ elevation — is the largest high desert valley in North America. Situated in south central Colorado, with a small portion extending south into central New Mexico, this gradually-sloping, 122 mile long north-to-south flat basin, 74 miles wide, separates Colorado’s two largest mountain ranges – the San Juans to the west, and the Sangre de Cristos to the east.

As part of the Rio Grande Rift, San Luis Valley extends east from the Continental Divide. The Rio Grande River rises out of the eastern San Juan Mountains and flows south into New Mexico; Colorado rivers west of the Continental Divide are drained by the Colorado River. Receiving little precipitation, the San Luis Valley is comprised of desert lands; with no clear southern boundary, it is generally considered to include the San Luis Hills of southern Colorado and the Taos Plateau of northern New Mexico.

Along the eastern edge of San Luis Valley are two significant features:

Blanca Peak, at 14,351′, is the fourth highest mountain in Colorado, and the highest peak in the Sangre de Cristo Mountains. Situated at the southern end of the more extensive Sangre de Cristo Range, it is the highest peak in both ranges, and is located 20 miles east-northeast of the town of Alamosa. Blanca Peak is also the highest point of the entire drainage basin of the Rio Grande, and is higher than any point in the U.S. east of its longitude.

Fifteen miles northwest of Blanca Peak, the Great Sand Dunes National Park and Preserve is situated in the lee of the Sangre de Cristos. These sand dunes, reaching as high as 750′, are the highest in North America.

Southeast Across the San Luis Valley<br>San Luis Valley - 2013 East Across the San Luis Valley<br>San Luis Valley - 2013 Sangres Across the San Luis Valley<br>San Luis Valley - 2013 Sangres & San Juans<br>San Luis Valley - 2013

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Sangre de Cristo Mountains X

2014

The tenth and final successive exploration (at least for now) of the west face of Santa Fe Baldy’s portion of the Sangre de Cristo range, immediately north of Santa Fe.

Eight months since my last exploration, the setting sun, through clouds scattered over the Jemez range 20 miles west, slowly diffuses Santa Fe Baldy’s own atmospherics.

Santa Fe Baldy IV<br>Sangre de Cristo Mountains X - 2014 Santa Fe Baldy II<br>Sangre de Cristo Mountains X - 2014 Santa Fe Baldy III<br>Sangre de Cristo Mountains X - 2014 Santa Fe Baldy<br>Sangre de Cristo Mountains X - 2014

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