After passing east of the 'village' of Pinon on Hwy 24 you turn onto Russell Gap Road...and it's gravel for the next 80+ miles as you take the Rim Road that skirts along the top of the western escarpment of the Guadalupe Mountains.
I noticed this windmill - it's been replaced by a modern pump.
As you start climbing the first part of the Rim Road, you can look north and see Capitan Peak in the distance.
We're not very high...not high enough for big trees that you find at higher elevations.
First view west from The Rim. It's a steep drop to the salt flats below...and Dell City, Texas.
Sierra Blanca still sports a decent snow pack.
Looking northwest at the southern end of the Sacramento Mountains...not too far from home. Those distant mountains are high enough to have trees, so they always look dark compared to the lower terrain.
First view of the Brokeoff Mountains to the south - the lower hills right of center.
It was a partly cloudy day, and the play of sunlight and shadow on the terrain added to the views.
After over three hours on gravel road, some of it fairly rough, I can still see the very top of Sierra Blanca from Pickett Hill.
Looking back at the Rim Road.
Near Sitting Bull Falls is Last Chance Canyon. At this lower elevation it's hot, even in mid April!
At least there is some water all year from springs, so it's green, unlike much of the adjacent terrain.
Wetlands! Reeds! Birds and insects making lots of noise.
First sign of a recent wildland fire. This took place a bit less than two weeks ago and I could still smell the charred plants.
This fire was man-made, and ran up the canyon for a couple miles. Even plants near the stream were not immune.
As I continued up the canyon, the signs of fire damage were still present. Fortunately the destruction was not total.
Some species seemed especially vulnerable to the fire, and others seemed relatively immune.
The fire worked its way up this side canyon, and burned itself out on the steeper slopes. Here we see the highest extent of the blackened terrain. Beyond this point I did not see any more signs of fire damage.
Flowers of all sorts were in bloom.
Back home at 9,440FT I won't see this sort of activity for about a month.
I got back on paved roads and headed north to Artesia. Before grabbing a burger I noticed the growth of thunderstorms to the east, where they are fed by the damp air from the Gulf of Mexico.
It may not be summer, but the winter weather pattern is certainly gone.
When I returned home that night, I looked east into the clear sky and saw heat lightning from these storms. I shook my head in disbelief as I looked at the remaining snow drifts in the fading light.
It was a hard winter, and summer is fast on its heels.