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Day 193 – New Mexico North, June 8, 2011

After a quick stop in Red River for some one-day old donuts and
coffee, VANilla weaved through the mountains and sped through the meadows to
reach red granite cliffs Cimarron Canyon State Park.  At mile marker 292, we found what would have
been a seven mile roundtrip hike had we completed the entire walk along Clear
Creek Canyon Trail.  Instead we took about
a two hour stroll along this Cimarron River tributary.

The creek was extremely over grown with bushes and trees, as
was the path in some cases.  We climbed
over a handful of fallen trees and crossed a number of bridges before we came
upon a patch of violet butterflies.  They
flocked to the ground between the trail and the river like a swarm of bees on
honeycomb.  As we walked by, they flew
around in a frenzy only to rest in the same area just seconds later.

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Just past the butterflies, we reached a ten foot waterfall
and a steep part to the trail.  We
climbed the stair-stepped path supported by logs, followed the trail down
toward the river, and then came face to face with a large, rock
outcropping.  From the down river side,
scaling the boulder looked quite ominous to Petey.  I had to set my backpack and camera down,
straddle the obstacle, and lift my 60 pound mutt over the two foot monster!

Much to Petey’s liking, the path leveled out and for the
most part remained shaded by pines and firs as we continued up river spotting orange
butterflies patterned with white dots and black stripes resting on white and
yellow wildflowers.  We passed by several
more small waterfalls (or perhaps large rapids) beneath the smoke filled sky,
when we finally reached a forty foot fall which became our resting spot and
turn around point.  On our return trip to
VANilla, the two foot monster no longer seemed impassable to Petey.  He dutifully turned part mountain goat and
navigated the difficult terrain.  He even
took a dip in the creek up to his belly instead of following me across the
bridge…as my shadow this was an unusual breach of character.

After our hike, we briefly tooled around Cimarron, once
ruled by Billy the Kid, Jesse James, and Wyatt Earp, before finding the Lake
Alice Campground in Sugarite Canyon State Park northeast of Raton.  This campground was a bargain.  It only cost $10 and a free shower house was
only one-mile down the road at the visitor’s entrance.  I know where my first stop in the morning
will be.  ETB

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