Wild Santa Fe

Supermoons, Wolves, and Wild Horses

Santa Fe, New Mexico is filled with wonder, wilderness, and a colorful history. It is one of my favorite places to visit over the holidays and has become a new tradition. The cool, crisp mountain air is delicious, with or without snow, and the sunsets are spectacular — the mountains become filled with a palette of brilliant colors, their layers and depth illuminated. There is much to do aside from enjoying the stunning sunsets, but let me first highly recommend finding a spot where you can sit and be still for this late day event.

There are lots of great places to hike, ski, and snowmobile in and near Santa Fe. This year, with the no-show snow, we set out to hike Kasha-Katuwe Tent Rocks National Monument, located on the Pueblo de Cochiti land (photos top left to right page). This area rises to an elevation of 6,760 feet above sea level, and has a rich history traced back six to seven million years. Cone-shaped rock formations (yes, they look like tents) are the result of volcanic eruptions — you can see layers of volcanic ash among bands of pink-colored rock. At times, the trails become extremely narrow as if once occupied by a trickling stream of water. Some areas are easier to navigate than others, but overall it’s a fairly easy hike, evidenced by the many young kids we see at the top.

Santa Fe’s abundant culinary and art scenes are easy to enjoy. Georgia O’Keefe is perhaps the most recognized artist from this area, and you can appreciate her work at her namesake museum. You can also go horseback riding at Ghost Ranch to experience the landscapes that are reflected in many of her paintings, attend various art classes, and even get in some yoga while you’re there. The drive through the mountains to Ghost Ranch is breathtakingly beautiful, especially once you get to Abiquiú, just fifty-three miles north of Santa Fe. The mountains are rich with colors of gold, red, orange, and various shades of brown.

Aside from O’Keefe’s legacy, one can also learn the story of artist, naturalist and conservationist Ernest Thompson Seton. Born in England and raised in Canada, Seton is best known as one of the founding pioneers of the Boy Scouts of America. However, his legacy began well before that, when he developed a fascination with Santa Fe’s wolves.

Historical record tells of Seton setting out to hunt a wolf known as Old Lobo. When he instead killed Lobo’s female mate, known as Blanca, he was astonished to hear Lobo let out a strange and plaintive howl. “There was an unmistakable note of sorrow in his voice,” Seton later wrote. “It was sadder than I could possibly have imagined.” He became convinced of an emotional attachment between wolves in a pack: Thus Blanca and Lobo profoundly changed the way he and others viewed wolves. Seton became a dedicated champion of the wolf until his death in 1946. His highly popular book, Wild Animals I Have Known, tells the story of Lobo and portrays wolves in a sympathetic way. When he helped to start the Boy Scouts of America in 1910, he designated the wolf as the symbol of the Cub Scouts, stating it was his way of honoring Blanca, whose life he took. (I highly recommend watching the PBS documentary “The Wolf That Changed America.”)

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By Cinda Sherman

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