Pot Creek & the Pinon Pines

Pot Creek–in case you’ve driven by it but never stopped I’ll show you a few hasty photos I took while walking the loop trail provided in this preserve. I say “hasty” because it was late in the day and the light was waning. The location is along the High Road, about three miles south beyond Talpa. The trail is fairly short and sweet and more or less starts at this very old adobe structure. There are markers along the way explaining the history of the area and why it’s special, worthy of preservation.

The thing that excited me most about Pot Creek is that it’s all about Pinon pines. For the past six months I’ve been wondering where the much-touted regional Pinon pines are to be found. I needed to know what they look like, so I could recognize one if it crossed my path. I have now been to the school of Pinon Pine 101. According to the information provided along the trail, the Pinon was good for, not only the pine nuts we relish, but the sap, which was very useful to the ancient peoples here–their handy equivalent of glue.

I saw no creek at Pot Creek, by the way. The next day I was in the Rio Grande gorge up from Pilar with a friend. This photo shows the spot where the Rio Pueblo disappears into the big Rio Grande. If you’ve explored the area north of the Taos Junction bridge you know there are two gorges north of the bridge, each with its own river. I have hiked from the top of the Rio Pueblo gorge down to the bridge, but have never before actually stood at the place where the two join. My friend showed me the path north along the west side of the Rio Grande, which starts just after you cross the Taos Junction bridge.

So in a couple of days two great mysteries of the Taos area were solved. That must mean something?

By the way, there was a time when I wanted to get to the top of the Rio Pueblo gorge and couldn’t figure it out. If you’re looking to find that piece of the puzzle: take state highway 570, a right turn after Llano Quemado as you’re heading out of town past Ranchos on Highway 68. You’ll go by the golf course and the University of NM campus to the end.

The other day I was drawing my own map of the local river complex and I stumbled (online) onto a video of river otters being introduced to the upper Rio Grande river system. They were coming from the state of Washington. It was an Albuquerque Journal video (a couple of years old) you can probably locate easily on UTube. I learned that the Taos Pueblo has been active in re-introducing the river otter into the waters of their tribal lands.

Which reminds me, we saw Bighorn Sheep up along the top of the gorge the day I took these photos. I was wishing I had my newly envisioned dslr camera with its telephoto lens. How many chances will I get for that shot?