Monday, September 29, 2008

The Pecos River runs through it

Greetings from another sparkling autumn day in New Mexico's high desert. A prescribed burn to thin forests near Santa Fe has put a pleasing scent and haze into the area, the sky is almost cloudless, and the leaves are genuinely beginning their change. The temperature hovers just over 70 degrees but it must have been in the 40s when I went to get the paper early this morning.

When I was a young girl I had my dad's broken down rod and spinner reel from when he was a kid within easy reach all summer. Our property in Hailey, Idaho, butted up against a small creek fed by an artesian well only two miles upstream. The little creek, a tributary to the Big Wood River, was cold all year long and full of brook trout--which, although small, are some of the finest for eating, and also one of the most beautiful varieties of trout. They are dark and densely covered in lavander and mandarin spots recircled with rings of white. Easily spooked, I'd sneak up on them after collecting grasshoppers in the timothy grass and spearing them on the small hook for bait, spending countless hours stalking trout. In no other way could I lose myself more easily.

Soonafter I took up fly fishing. When I moved to New Mexico in 2002 I planned day trips all summer in order to find the good trout water. Though I can't walk to the Pecos River the way I could to the little creek behind my old house, it is close enough. Within twenty minutes of leaving my house I am on world class waters, with a little hiking I can be completely alone, and it is almost guaranteed that with a hopper or a stimulator size 12 fly I will catch a fine New Mexico brown trout. It's almost just the same as when I was a kid wet wading under a big high desert sky.

This morning I attended a press conference where Gov. Bill Richardson announced his intentions to preserve Pecos Canyon by making it a State Park with the help of legislators and the Jemez tribe. Gathered near a brilliant stand of cottonwoods and a steady and clear Pecos River were citizens of the riverside hamlet of Pecos, employees of the Forest Service and State Parks, and others who support the designation of 35th State Park. On the drive up I was tempted by all the sweet spots I normally fish on the Pecos, and being there in that peculiarly intense fall sun reminded me how lucky I am to live here and to be part of a state that truly believes in, and makes progress in, preservation of our wild and scenic places.

NM has 34 diverse State Parks where one can find everything from sand dunes and rock art to canyonlands, rivers and lakes--even dinosaur tracks. For more information on our state parks visit this website:


LvgNM said...

Nice to see there is a blog about New Mexico tourism! My family is from San Juan, NM (I grew up in Denver, CO) and I spent many sun filled days there! I am now a jewelry artisan and name many pieces after places I have visited or colors I have seen throughout NM. My husband and I will eventually be moving to NM to open a bed & breakfast. I will look forward to reading your blog!

amanda33 said...
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