By Drew Lenihan
While you might believe the fun ends with the arrival of school and the changing colors and temperatures of fall, there is still plenty to do outdoors. SFR chose 10 possibilities for stimulating and—most importantly—active events happening in the north.
Tri Getting a Life:
Sometimes people need structure in order to improve at sports. This is particularly true of most racing sports, in which a mere second can decide success or failure. Structure is what you’ll find up in Los Alamos, where racing sports are a highly tuned science that involve training sessions and organized events. Contact the nonprofit Los Alamos Triatomics Multisport Club for dates and prices on organized road biking time trials, triathlon training, trail running and overall fitness.
Oh no! The beauty of the mountaintops beckons, but you’ve got such a large bag. What should you do? Charter a llama to be your personal Sherpa, of course. The Taos-based company Wild Earth Llama Adventures encourages you to throw your pack on a llama’s back and lead it through the wilderness. Spend the night with your llama and a naturalist guide—who happens to be a “backcountry gourmet” chef—or just go on one of the company’s Take a Llama to Lunch day hikes. Llama Adventures offers trips in the Taos area at the Wheeler Peak Wilderness, Columbine-Hondo Wilderness, Valle Vidal and the Rio Grande Gorge.
Take Me to the River:
You’ll be barrel rollin’ while doing mid-rapid nose stalls in no time. New Mexico Kayak Instruction offers free classes, as well as the not-free Introduction to Whitewater Rafting Adventure Weekend package, September and October, up in Pilar. The latter is a two-day course packed with activities on stroking and paddling techniques, and on how to read rivers and assess hazards while in the water. The water level diminishes later into the fall but, for now, there’s still plenty of time to conquer Class I through III rapids, get a little wet and learn enough to go out ready and able next season.
What’s El Rito’s best-kept secret? The rock climbing walls that dot its landscape. Grab a crash pad for bouldering or take ropes and harnesses for some actual top-rope climbs. There’s even a free campground if your party decides to hunker down on the rocks for a couple of days. Contact the Santa Fe Climbing Center or the Los Alamos Mountaineers to find the best sites for bouldering, as well as lead and sport climbing.
Biking Ski Lift Magic:
Ski areas during summer can be immaculately beautiful, yet also ghost-town-like. Thankfully, some of our “lifties” turn on the lifts before ski season, so hikers and bikers can access the upper trails or experience a riveting voyage down the mountains. Santa Fe’s aspen display is even more breathtaking when seen from Ski Santa Fe’s chairlifts. One also can buy discounted lift tickets for assisted hiking and biking on Sept. 11, 12 and 25 at Pajarito Mountain Ski Area. skisantafe.com; skipajarito.com
Out Here in the Fields:
Starting on Sept. 13, don’t miss a series of nature expeditions at Cimarroncita Ranch in Ute Park that include guided hikes, horseback riding, field camps and conservation talks. Experience the wide range of wildlife and learn the ecology of the Sangre de Cristo Mountains’ meadows. Ride horses from campsite to campsite and sit around the campfire like cowboys, or go back each night to the comfortable lodging at the historic
ranch. The expeditions are customized to the interests of each guest group, so pick and choose activities to form your ultimate mountain experience.
One Fish, Two Fish:
First, grab your bait, fishing pole, and favorite mix of herbs and spices. Then get ready to catch and eat the freshest fish in New Mexico. From Sept. 18-26, the Eagle Nest Chamber of Commerce hosts the annual Fishfest, a fishing competition and fish-fry party. If eating fresh trout isn’t enough incentive, try to catch a tagged fish in order to receive one of the chamber’s fishy door prizes. The worm-eating competition will be one for the books, too.
The Werewolves of Taos Ski Valley:
What’s better than sneaking off to a lake at night? Doing it during the full moon and watching its reflection rise and fall on the lake. This free moonlight hike is possibly the most epic thing you could do at Taos Ski Valley other than a powder day on the ridge, and it’s hosted and guided by the mayor of the ski village himself, Neal King. Join the man of authority at 7 pm Wednesday, Sept. 22, as he leads the way from the heart of Taos Ski Valley to the majestic and beautiful Williams Lake, located out-of-bounds in the Carson National Forest. Bring a flashlight, warm clothes, water and a snack—and something to protect you from the loony chupacabras.
The Sept. 24 Twilight Mountain Bike Ride through the Valles Caldera gives 300 lucky bicyclists the opportunity to see the sun set, the moon rise and the stars shine, as they freely maneuver through the rolling hills and flat valley floor of the volcanic crater. In addition to a bike, remember to bring a bike light, helmet, spare inner tube and rain jacket in case the early autumn storms crash the caldera party.
Save a Buck, Shred the Powder:
Before setting foot in any pair of ski or snowboard boots this winter, gear up the right way during the fall. The Santa Fe Ski Team hosts the annual Ski and Sports Swap (Nov. 12-14, Genoveva Chavez Community Center, 3221 W. Rodeo Road, 955-4000). Get the best deals on demo skis and snowboards, and talk to company reps for the inside scoop on what’s hot on the snow this season. You can also benefit Santa Fe Ski Team by getting rid of your old, thrashed skis and selling them and your other gear in the Ski Bum’s Bazaar. Afterward, the snow gods granting, the season begins around Thanksgiving and the most likely places to find early snow are Taos Ski Valley, Red River Ski Area and Ski Santa Fe.