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January 28, 2016
by David Ryan
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Wandering Around the Tierra Amarilla Anticline

The previous post in this blog described the world class natural area of White Sands National Monument in southern New Mexico. This post describes another amazing geologic feature only forty miles or so northwest of Albuquerque – the Tierra Amarilla anticline. (It is also called the San Ysidro anticline.)

An anticline is where the earth’s crust has been pushed into an upward pointing fold. It is very much like an upside down “V”. When you add in tens of millions of years of erosion you get an amazing array of formations and exposed rock layers. As a result, the anticline is a great place to wander and explore.

With most of the anticline being on public land and its proximity to Albuquerque, the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) has built several miles of trails on top of the anticline that are very popular with mountain bikers. (Click here for a copy of the BLM map and brochure of the trails.) 60 Hikes within 60 Miles: Albuquerque by Stephen Ausherman describes a very nice hike on these trails.

This is the heart of the anticline, that has been eroded away, where the bike trails begin. The upward slope comes up from both the left and the right. The top of the anticline would have been somewhere in front of us.

This is the heart of the anticline and where the bike trails begin. Upward pointing slopes come up from both the left and the right. If the heart of the anticline had not been eroded away, the top of the anticline would have been in front of us.

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January 6, 2016
by David Ryan
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Wandering in White Sands National Monument

To open 2016, the dogs and I drove down to White Sands National Monument in southern New Mexico. With its miles and miles of uninterrupted white gypsum sand dunes, it is one of the great places of the world. There is no other place like it. White Sands is right up there with the Grand Canyon as a place that will not disappoint you.

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Gypsum sand is different than normal beach sand. Gypsum sand is soft and compacts well, so it is great for walking. It also doesn’t absorb heat like regular sand. If you have walked barefoot across a sandy beach in the summer, you know that it is an ouch, ouch, ouch moment. If you were to walk across White Sands on a day just as hot, the gypsum sand will be cool to your feet.

Because the gypsum sand does not hold heat, the temperature drops like a rock as soon as the sun goes down. One time, on a late October day, my daughter Jennifer and I camped out at White Sands on a full moon night. When we reached the National Monument at 4:00PM the outside temperature was 82 degrees. The next morning, when we woke up, there was a layer of ice in our water bottles. Continue Reading →

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December 11, 2015
by David Ryan
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Some Bay Area Stair Wandering

Last week the dogs and I had a chance to go to the Bay Area while on a road trip. I was looking forward to checking out some of the public stairways in Berkeley as I had mentioned them and the work of the Berkeley Path Wanderers Association in the book The Gentle Art of Wandering.

After attending to a couple of business items in the morning, we drove to Berkeley to spend a couple of hours climbing stairs. Although I had a Berkley Path Wanderers map (click here if you’re interested in ordering one), I really hadn’t done any preparation. I just drove toward the hills without a clue as to where I was and finally began looking for a place to park the car when we reached a huge old white building, the Claremont Hotel.

I checked the map and noticed that we were not too far from some stairs. Although it was a brisk and unCalifornia-like gray day, we were anxious to get started and walked to the stairways a few blocks away. They turned out to be on the Panoramic Hill just above the University of California football stadium.

We began climbing up Panoramic Hill on the Orchard Lane steps a long field goal away from the Cal football stadium.

We began climbing up Panoramic Hill on the Orchard Lane steps a long field goal away from the Cal football stadium.

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