I LOVE THE FEELING OF THE TRAILHEAD. There’s a thrill in pressing start on my AllTrails app, taking those first few steps, and heading out for a new adventure. The rhythmic sound of the earth underfoot sings a mantra for the miles ahead: Look. Listen. Breathe. Pay attention to this place. It is special.
On an easy mid-April hike in the Galisteo Basin Preserve, south of Santa Fe, I relish in the springtime joy of shedding layers down to a T-shirt after just a mile, yellow prickly pear cactus flowers preparing to bloom, the full panorama of the surrounding mountains, grasslands, and arroyos from Eliza’s Ridge, and the sight of a chocolate-brown horned lizard basking in the sunshine.
It’s not just the Galisteo Basin. New Mexico beckons with its rugged beauty, abundant wildlife, and variety of landscapes. Out on the trail, I’ve been gifted with a close encounter with a family of mule deer in Bandelier National Monument, gotten caught in a July rainstorm along Las Conchas Trail, splashed under a waterfall at Sitting Bull Falls, wandered among the dunes of White Sands National Park, walked among butterflies and wildflowers along the Cave Creek Trail in the Pecos Wilderness, and enjoyed the solitude of a snowy January trek along Big Tesuque Trail.
You can feel a similar sentiment rippling through this month’s “Choose Your Adventure” cover story, whether your outdoor pursuits include hiking, mountain biking, fly-fishing, birding, rafting, or off-roading.
“One day I’ll be hiking across the desert looking into the gorge of the Río Grande. The next, I’ll be on a steep mountain trail headed for a snow-covered peak,” says Cindy Brown, author of the Taos Hiking Guide. “I cherish the solitude and lightly traveled trails that are hard to find in our neighboring states.”
You’ll also find similar themes in the 10 poems we’re featuring from the New Mexico Poetry Anthology 2023. “The collection is an ode and homage to nuestra querencia, our beloved homeland, where we are nurtured, healed, and have a sense of belonging,” write poets Levi Romero and Michelle Otero in their introduction to the anthology.
So this month, make it a goal to set out for someplace new. Find your trailhead. Let’s go. Connections await.