In Nostalgic Terrain

Having lived a good portion of my life in Metro Denver, the landscape of northern and central Colorado has become very familiar over the years.  However, the terrain of southern Colorado and New Mexico still ignites nostalgia in my soul since it was there that I first experienced the Mountain West, way back in my twenties.

Today, those feelings were rekindled as I crossed the Huerfano River Valley, south of Pueblo.  To my NNW was Greenhorn Mountain, at the southern end of the Wet Mountains, while, to my SSW were the majestic pyramids of the Spanish Peaks, massive plutons that rose in the Tertiary Period.  To the west of those peaks I could see the high wall of the Culebra Range (a segment of the Sangre de Cristo Range) and, to my immediate west, Blanca Peak (a "fourteener") poked above mountains in the foreground; stopping to take photos, I was greeted by a golden eagle that soared above the valley and a flock of mountains bluebirds that had descended from higher terrain.  Further south, as I approached Trinidad, the squared top of Fisher Peak anchored the Raton Mesa, a basalt coated ridge that runs eastward to the Oklahoma Panhandle.  After crossing Raton Pass (elevation about 8500 feet), I drove eastward along the base of the Raton Mesa, encountering many other volcanic formations across northeastern New Mexico; among these were Capulin Mountain, a large cinder cone protected as a National Monument, and Sierra Grande (8720 feet high), an extinct shield volcano.  I passed the final volcanic landform (Rabbit Ears Mountain) at Clayton before heading southeastward across the High Plains of the Texas Panhandle.

Though I had not crossed this terrain in many years, little seemed to have changed (except the growth of both Trinidad and Raton).  Those interested in the geology of this region might want to check out The Raton Basin.