Seventh Annual Hassey "Goat Vacation"
Wonderful! My day needed goat photos. What an adventure. The landscape is just amazing.
Pretty special to return to a place you had visited with Cuzco in the past. By the way, you are still slender and don't look that different (except your hat!) at all since 2004. I suspect photos of myself from 2004 (then aged 24) would show a vastly different picture compared to me now...I have definitely added some 'extensions' to my hips and thighs ha ha
You're very kind. I was 25 in 2004 and weighed approximately 115 lbs. I've put on 25-30 lbs. since then! I keep trying to get down to a more reasonable 130 or so, but then dessert happens... Today I made coconut ice cream with chocolate chips from our home-grown goat milk and cream. So delicious, but oh so fattening! Big Grin
yuuum sounds absolutely delish and totally worth the calories!
Day 4 dawned clear and cold. It would be our last day of sunshine on this trip, and the temperature was predicted to stay cold. We originally planned to hike up to Williams Lake at the base of Wheeler Peak--New Mexico's highest mountain. But that would have required a fairly long drive with the goats in the cold, open truck bed. There was a chance of warmer temperatures on Wednesday, so we put off the Williams Lake hike and I did a little research to find a better cold weather trail closer to Taos. I discovered Devisadero Loop Trail on the south side of Taos (where the sunshine was happening that day), and reviews said most of the trail was on the sunny side of the mountain. This sounded like a win to me! I love loop trails, and this one was about 6 miles long--perfect for two people still recovering from Friday's hike to Wheeler, and from the previous day's steep terrain.

The trail skirted the peak of a mountain overlooking Taos and offered stunning views of the city and surrounding mountains along most of the way. The reviews had been correct about the sunshine. Despite the cold temperatures, the sun hit this mountainside hard enough in the morning that I was able to hike in a T-shirt for the first part of the day.     

Sputnik's fluffy, warm hindquarters made a great resting spot. There was even a good pad of fat on that broad back of his! 

Sometimes a bit of vandalism adds character to a place.  

We were greeted by a series of three stone thrones at the top of the mountain. It was a perfect place to eat lunch, but I had to tie up the goats because people with dogs kept coming over the crest and we didn't want any accidents or surprises. 

According to the man who took this photo for us, the thrones were much bigger and more impressive until the Forest Service decided to intervene. In the name of "Leave No Trace", the government decided to tear down the thrones, monuments, and other rock art at the top of the mountain. Naturally, the citizens came and put it back up, but apparently it does not live up to its former glory. The local who took the photo didn't think much of the Forest Service any more.    

We had equally good views on the hike back down. 

I just love the shape of Finn's horns. 

We still had daylight left after the Devisadero Loop, and several trails started from the same parking area. So we explored the river bottom across the road from the Devisadero Loop for a while. We didn't go far because we only wanted to see the leaves. The cottonwoods and willows were at peak color and their leaves carpeted the trail. Unfortunately the light was a little off and none of my photos came out very well, but it was a particularly relaxing and enjoyable little jaunt through golden, sun-dappled woods. 
We finished hiking in mid-afternoon and there was one more thing I wanted to see. I'd read about the broken-down Ponce de Leon hot springs south of Taos and I wanted to see them. Reviews were mixed. One said the trail to it was closed. Another said the springs were silted in and choked with cattails and probably hadn't been used in years. But other reviews said it was a wonderful, secluded little spot and showed photos of beautiful, clear pools--the remains of what once was a small resort built in the 1920's and abandoned in the 1960's. 

It took a bit of looking, but we found a rough parking lot at the top of a narrow dirt road. It was full of broken glass and the road across the way was barred with a metal gate. Signs next to the gate indicated that the trail and springs were closed to vehicle traffic and were being managed by the Taos Pueblo Indian tribe. The signs were all shot up. It was an easy mile hike down to the springs and we had to go through a couple of gates. 

When we got there we were greeted by a large silted-in pool filled with cattails just like the one-star review stated. No swimming to be done here! Too bad. It looked like a really nice pool at one time.   

But a short hike up the hill and around some willows revealed the hidden spring. Apparently our one-star reviewer was not a very ambitious explorer. I dipped a finger in the water, expecting it to be too cool to tempt us in on such a cold day.   

But I was pleasantly surprised! The water was not hot, but it felt wonderfully warm compared to the chilly air. The sun came from behind a cloud, showing wisps of steam hovering over the surface. Phil and I changed into our swimsuits and jumped in. It was not deep--only about 3 feet--but it was a delicious temperature on a 50-degree afternoon.   

The goats had carried our swimsuits and towels down for us, but they had no desire to try the water for themselves (and it would have been bad manners to allow goats in the pool even if they wanted a dip). I tied them to a willow tree along the bank and they kept themselves very amused by trimming the foliage.  

The water was some of the clearest I have ever seen. There was no sulfur smell--only pure, delicious, crystal-clear spring water running over a sand and gravel bottom through which you could feel the heat radiating up between your toes. It was good enough to drink, and Phil and I both had a sip from the cataract that tumbled into the pool.

Getting in was wonderful, but getting out was cold! We waited until the sun peeked from behind the clouds for a few minutes, and then hurried over to our towels and into our dry clothes. Finn got to carry my wet swimsuit back to the truck. I'm glad no one else was at the springs because I really didn't want to hike back in my wet bathing suit, and there was nowhere convenient to change clothes except right by the side of the pool. I'm just not one of those "clothing optional" people even though this is a "clothing optional" pool.  

I hope Ponce de Leon Springs is never "rediscovered" because it's a gorgeous little gem just as it is. It provided the perfect end to a wonderful day.
What a fantastic hidden treasure!
Goatberries Happen!
I was very excited to wake up to more installments of the Goat Vacation today.
What a find the spring was, I was initially disappointed for you seeing the weed filled first pool but then couldn't believe the beautiful pool you found nearby. It is a bit exciting to be in somewhat of a secret garden with crystal clear pool. Nice swimmers, Finn. Do they come in wether size?
Day 5 was kind of a dud--cold, windy, rainy, and spitting snow. We tethered the goats in the yard to graze for a couple of hours in the morning and then I bedded their trailer down deep in clean straw and gave them fresh hay so we could get them under shelter just in time for the nasty weather to blow in around 10:30. Phil and I took off to explore the area without goats. We drove up to Tres Piedres and saw the Earthship visitors center where we paid too much to see a model Earthship home. But we bought a book about harvesting rainwater which might come in handy for us one of these days. 

Then we went to the Rio Grande Gorge bridge and walked across so we could spit off it. It was a very high bridge. The gorge was beautiful. But we were puzzled by the lack of parking. You could park on the limited shoulder on either side of the bridge. Or you could park at the visitors center. But there was no access from the visitors center to the bridge without hiking cross-country and climbing over a guardrail. It was very strange because the bridge had wide walking paths and observation balconies on both sides. And we didn't understand this sign on the visitors center bathroom at all!    

After lunch we visited a couple of museums and a wonderful rock shop. The rock shop was the highlight of the day. They had many beautiful mineral specimens, and Phil bought a bag of mineral spheres to add to his marble collection. 

We let the goats out in the yard when we got back and they amused themselves at the apple tree. 
Our original plan for Day 6 was to hike to Williams Lake far above Taos. It was supposed to be a sunny day with temps in the 60's, but the morning dawned cold, foggy, and overcast with snow still spitting fitfully from the sky. The mountains behind our cabin had a dusting of snow, and I knew that above treeline it would be more than a dusting. We were not prepared for winter hiking, and the goats would have frozen on the long drive to the trailhead so we changed our plans. We decided to try one of the other trails within walking distance of our cabin. This one was called "Canoncita Trail" and sounded easy and fairly scenic in the description we found in our cabin. With the cold weather, we didn't plan a long hike and thought we would be back before lunchtime so we did not bother to saddle the goats. 

The trail wandered along a creek in a wooded canyon, crossing back and forth many times as we climbed.  

This hanging tree amused me. I wonder how long it had been suspended like that?

The goats enjoyed the zen circle. 

Huge, imposing rock towers rose up behind the trees.   

The creek was low, but it was beautiful. Crystal clear water tumbled down endless little cataracts, over ancient logs and mossy rocks. Golden aspen leaves looked like pirate treasure. 

The trees got bigger as we climbed. Many of the aspens had carvings reaching back for decades. 
The canyon walls closed in as we gained altitude, and the temperature began to drop noticeably. There was more snow on the ground and we had to be careful not to slip at the creek crossings.  

Even without the sun to ignite them, the blazing aspens set the forest on fire. 

We came around a bend in the trail and stopped in our tracks. The air tingled. It was a Unicorn Wood.  

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