Thus begins a winter hike for CJ and myself. A few hundred yards upstream of the Taos Junction Bridge lies the confluence of the Rio Grande River and the Rio Pueblo. It is sometimes fished for trout and sometimes kayaked by those possessing superior paddling skills, but we saw no one on this snowy day. The drive along the Race Course section brought us our first Bald Eagle.
A short distance above the confluence CJ accidentally spotted this bald while watching (through her new Nikon ATB Monarch (waterproof) 10×42 binoculars), a raven feed on what she claimed to be pieces of a rabbit.
Snow and ice covers the rocks of the Rio Pueblo and getting in close allows one to admire the various abstract formations created by both wind and water in freezing temperatures.
One can drive a short distance up the old road that follows the stream to the top of the Taos Plateau and eventually back to Highway 68, but it’s no longer drivable due to a serious rock fall some years ago and now is a hiking trail only.
Constantly on the lookout for more Bald Eagles or perhaps one of the River Otters that were released into the Rio Grande Gorge last winter, we were graced with a herd of Bighorn Sheep grazing below the south facing cliff of the canyon wall. Evidence of past inhabitants can also be found.
Almost to the top of the mesa the Rio Pueblo Canyon takes a more northerly turn and one gets a look at the top of the Taos Plateau. It was nice to see the blue sky.
The blue sky we found on the mesa soon gave way to more clouds and snow flurries with a substantial drop in temperature. On the way down we took only a moment to watch the sheep and reached the truck which had a note from the local BLM Ranger on the windshield. Oops, don’t forget to pay your $3 entrance fee to the Orilla Verde Recreation Area.
With plenty of daylight left we decided a drive was in order. Across the Taos Junction Bridge, up the west Mesa Road, which is now paved, with no speed limit signs (I guess it’s New Mexico’s version of the Autobahn) and to the Rio Grande Gorge Bridge. So indulge me in a few more photos.
Ok, so now one more Bald Eagle photo taken on the drive out. Along the river, in a lone Ponderosa Pine at the gaging station, sat an immature Bald.
Remember: All these photos, and more, can be found at “www.flickr.com/photos/jorunny/”.