About my blog

Welcome to my trail running site. I enjoy being on the trail where I can take in nature and clear my mind. I prefer running in the mountains, but anywhere rural will do. I have completed four 100 mile trail races and many other ultramarathons. I spend countless hours running in the Franklin Mountains in El Paso, TX. I call it "going to church". I'm a member of Team Red, White and Blue. "Enriching the lives of America's veterans."

Tuesday, November 6, 2018

El Malpais National Monument

El Malpais National Monument is a gem just south of Grants, NM. I visited the day before I ran the Mt Taylor 50K so I didn’t do any running, but drove to a few scenic overlooks to take in the sights. El Malpais is a volcano field with lava flows, cinder cones, lava tubes and caves. The McCartys Flow, one of the youngest lava flows in the lower 48 states, can be seen here and is only about 3000 years old. 

Sandstone Bluff Overlook

Several “trails” take visitors across or around the lava fields, but hike with caution. From what I was told, there are cairns of black lava rocks marking the way, but are very hard to see from a distance. One could easily get lost because black rocks blend in against a field of otherwise featureless black lava. Also be sure to wear sturdy boots because the sharp lava is hard on the soles of your shoes. 

McCartys Flow
I got a spectacular view of the lava from high above by visiting the Sandstone Bluff overlook which can be reached by traveling S. on highway 117 off of I-40 near Grants, NM. You can walk along the bluffs to observe strange wind worn boulders, shallow natural water “tanks”, mini slot canyons and hoodoos. Mt Taylor can be seen from a distance while stunted pines and juniper trees surround the cliffs with some even protruding straight out of the rocks.

After spending some time at the bluff, I drove down to the La Ventana Arch, a natural bridge that spans about 120 feet. It’s the second largest natural arch in New Mexico. The hike to the base is only about 1/4 mile. Wildflowers were beautiful here, especially the magenta four o’clocks that were blooming around the parking area. El Malpais was a perfect park to visit before my race because I was able to see spectacular sights while saving my legs for the race the next day. You can read my race report here

La Ventana Arch

See you on the Trail

Saturday, October 6, 2018

Mt Taylor 50K 2018

I try my best to not break my ankle as I navigate rocks and other tripping hazards at the base of Mt Taylor near Grants, NM. The sun isn’t up yet, so I steal a little bit of light from those running with headlamps around me. Wouldn’t it be a shame to get injured in the first half mile of the Mt Taylor 50K trail race? I’m careful and take my time; the sun will be up in 15 minutes anyway. Before long I’m power hiking up a forest road with about 180 other runners. The weather is perfect; about 45 with little wind and dry as a bone. We will eventually go to the peak at 11,300’, but not before we run a 16 mile hilly loop to make sure our legs are good and trashed before the brutal ascent. 

Mt Taylor as seen from Sandstone Bluffs, El Malpais National Monument

Friday, September 21, 2018

Tarantulas Are Pretty Fast!

One of the benefits of being on the trail for many hours at a time is that you get to see amazing wildlife, cacti and wildflowers along the way. The saying goes, “If you run long enough, something is bound to happen.” Usually those happenings are good like seeing a colorful bird flash by or stumbling upon a herd of elk (read my previous post). Occasionally the thing could be bad though, like eating the dirt, falling in the creek or being chased by zombies during your all night run.

Indian Paintbrush in the Franklin Mts State Park, TX

Monday, August 27, 2018

Lookout Mountain and Crest Trail

The stinging nettle plant contains thousands of tiny hollow hairs that release histamine and formic acid when broken off, creating a nasty burning sensation on the skin. Well, that sounds like something to avoid, doesn't it! More on stinging nettle later, but what I wanted to tell you now is that I recently went to the White Mountain Wilderness near Ruidoso, NM to do a little altitude training to get ready for my upcoming race, the Mt Taylor 50K. This race takes runners to the top of sacred Mt Taylor (11,300’) which is near Grants, NM. Near Ruidoso, I climbed Lookout Mt (11,580’) which is a bit higher so this was a perfect training run to help me prepare for my race. I tried this hike over spring break, but the snow was still very deep and I wasn’t able make it to the top.

Lookout Mt and Sierra Blanca Peaks
Crest Trail
I began my adventure at Ski Apache at around 10,000’ elevation and took the Scenic Trail (T15). The narrow path climbs a grassy slope with lots of wildflowers. In a little more than a half mile, I reached the Crest Trail (T15) which is a 20 mile route that traverses the mountain range. Unfortunately, the Little Bear Fire burned much of this area in 2012 and parts of the this trail are difficult to travel. More on that later.

Thursday, July 19, 2018

Running Almost Mexico

I recently spent some time running our southern border in Hudspeth County, TX. With only three fourths of a person per mile it is the 45th least populous county in America. Loving, TX is number 5 with only a tenth of a person per mile. In comparison, New York County, NY is the most densely populated with 69,468 people per mile! (Wikipedia) No thank you! I prefer Texas, so the fam and I went to our family’s ranch in West Texas to enjoy a very quiet weekend in Almost Mexico.

Hudspeth along the border is much like the Big Bend area of Texas with a high wall of mountains in Mexico, the Quitman Mountains in the US and the Rio Grande slicing through the valley between the two countries. On both sides of the river, as far as the eye can see, is dry desert, rocky outcrops and sand hills dotted with creosote bush and gnarly vegetation. With only around nine inches of rain per year, it is one of the most inhospitable regions imaginable where everything bites, stings or scratches. It’s also one of the most beautiful. 

Monday, July 9, 2018

Heart Attack Canyon Lincoln National Forest

As the name indicates, Heart Attack Canyon is no joke! I went to Cloudcroft, NM a few weeks ago to get out of the desert heat and enjoy some time in the Lincoln National Forest. I ran the Bluff Springs, Willie White and Wills Canyon trails that you can read about in my last post. Several years ago I ran the Rim Trail that mostly parallels the Sunspot Scenic Byway and noticed a sign pointing the way to Heart Attack Canyon. I became very intrigued by this side trail and thought to myself how hard could it be? Well, I went back to find out.

Friday, June 22, 2018

Bluff Springs Lincoln National Forest

I recently had an epic running adventure in the Lincoln National Forest just south of Cloudcroft, NM. Bluff Springs waterfall is a beautiful little spot along the Rio PeƱasco Rd off of Sunspot Scenic Byway. Water tumbles over a bluff that is adorned by a hanging garden of riparian vegetation including mosses and ferns as well as a smooth algae covered stone. Tall majestic spruce and fir trees tower above the cliff. A short trail leads to the top of the waterfall where water weeps out of the Sacramento Mountains into a lush marshy area before plunging over the scarp.

Bluff Springs, NM