Hiking, Owlets and More!

Last April I was honored to be selected as the first, and currently, only guide in Sunrise Spring’s walks and hiking program. Eventually I expect we will have multiple guides but I was brought on board to get the program up and going.

You can read more about my background in outdoor sports and activities in the online section titled Experiences/Our Thrive Guides. But, briefly, I was born and raised in northern New Mexico and have been exploring its high and low country on foot ever since.

You can also read online about the various places we hike to in the section Experiences/Activities/Hiking. Each hike is described in detail and given a difficulty rating. Those that have a range of difficulty noted means we can adjust the particular hike to the fitness level of the participants, upping the effort quotient or decreasing it as needed.

There are 15 hikes described but many of our outings have been to the La Cieneguilla Petroglyphs site. It is just a five-minute drive to the trailhead, which means we spend more time on the ground and less on the road than with any other destination. And, the site offers a unique mix of ancient history, a moderately challenging hike, lovely views, solitude and interesting variety of terrain in a “high desert” setting.

Mid-summer at the petroglyphs are too hot, however, so those days find us high in the Sangre de Cristos under the cool canopy of pine trees and quaking aspen cover, where we indulge in some “forest therapy.”

One of the unexpected bonuses we had last April and May was the discovery of a family of great horned owls that were nesting in a canyon cliff near the petroglyphs. With binoculars and a quiet approach, we were able to get quite close and observe them. I first spotted the youngsters when they were just foot-tall blobs of downy feathers. Mom and dad were busy ferrying mice and other food to the hungry babes. Over the weeks we watched the fledglings lose their baby down and grow flight feathers, then their first timid forays on the wing. About then, mom and dad departed for parts unknown, while the babes continued to develop their strength and aerial skills. In June, they too departed. But, I understand owls sometimes return to nesting grounds year after year, so I am hoping the adults will be back to raise another brood this spring.

On our walks we have also seen numerous hawks, soaring ravens, turkey vultures and numerous species of songbirds, plus cottontail rabbits, ground squirrels, and several varieties of snakes. We heard the distinctive buzz of a rattlesnake one day but it remained hidden, thankfully! So, one can always expect some kind of surprise on our hikes, perhaps an introduction to cool birds or other wildlife. Come and join us!

Dan Gibson Hiking Guide

Daniel Gibson, Hiking Guide

Daniel Gibson was born and raised in the North Valley of Albuquerque, where he played in the fields, irrigation ditches, orchards and backyards of his rural neighborhood. His love of the outdoors led him to attend the National Outdoor Leadership School in the Wind River Range of Wyoming when he was 15, which included spending 32 uninterrupted days in the wilderness. Here he learned about route finding, decision-making in the field, group dynamics, basic camping and survival skills, and some basic botany and geology. He went on to study journalism and photography at the University of New Mexico, graduating with a BA in 1979, and has worked ever since as a reporter, magazine writer, editor, columnist and book author. He has been guiding professionally for three years, focusing on hiking in northern New Mexico, plus regional cultural, historic and scenic tours.