Wednesday, May 22: Exploring Vermejo

Today was split in two parts.

Heading uphill, May 2019

In the morning, I went for a hike with my guide, Lee. I’ve never been hiking before with an actual guide, but Vermejo is pretty touchy about guests getting lost or hurt while wandering around their 600,000 acres. Pretty much all of the outdoor activities here: fishing, hunting, hiking, biking – require that you book a guide. Lee works at Vermejo full time, mostly doing light construction and general maintenance. He acts as a guide when there’s business.

It really is spring, May 2019

As we started the hike, I realized why a guide is a good idea – there aren’t any trails. We drove about 30 minutes on dirt roads and barely-roads and then started walking uphill across snow-covered meadows. As I wrote the other day, it snowed on our way up here and looked heavier on the mountain peaks. The ranch buildings are about 7,500′, but we started the hike around 9,000′. So despite having been in New Mexico for a week now, the air still felt thin to me.

Stunning view, Sangre de Cristo Mountains, May 2019

From time to time deer or elk would run across the open area, presumably spooked by us. And the views were stunning.

After climbing for about an hour, we turned back downhill. I set a new personal best, having hiked at 9,602′.

Lee, antlers and another stunning view, May 2019

On the way down Lee started finding elk antlers. They shed them in the spring, and are collected for sale. The value is pretty low, since they’re pretty common. Sally is considering having a pair shipped home for installation somewhere (1).

Wild elk, feral horses, May 2019

After cleaning up, we collected Sally and took a four hour tour of Vermejo Park, with Lee the guide driving. I know I keep repeating myself, but four hours doesn’t get you close to covering the 600,000 acres. But we did see a bunch of great scenery, elk, deer and turkeys (2). We also saw a herd of ferrel horses that are descended from horses freed after a flash flood on the ranch 100 years ago.

Wanna play?, May 2019

After we got back, I took a walk over to the stables. The horses there are fully domesticated and (obviously) available for riding. Today they all seemed to be in the coral, some munching on hay. They were quite friendly and all came over to inspect me.


(1) Update: we decided to not hav them shipped. They would just be clutter.

(2) Elk are fairly exotic to us. Deer and turkeys, not so much. They’re all over our town.

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