Christmas in Taos – Part II

Taos Ski Valley

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We spent two days skiing at Taos Ski Valley. I was a little nervous because everyone we spoke to around town referred to its difficulty – 51% of its trails are rated expert. Driving up the gentle curves of the mountain road to the ski valley, my nerves calmed. It was breathtakingly beautiful. The way the snow softly piled up on the tree limbs, picnic tables, and log cabins made the mountain all the more inviting. We rented all of our equipment from the ski valley and soon we were up on the bunny hill testing out our legs.

Our first day was perfect. The sun was bright and illuminated the glory of the mountains. We practiced a bit on the main green trail – White Feather – before venturing higher up the mountain to tackle some longer, more difficult greens. Although this was only Zach’s 3rd time skiing (ever!), he was already more adventurous than me. I’m never very confident at the edge of a steep drop.

Gorgeous views from the top of Lift 2

Gorgeous views from the top of Lift 2

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Our main aim for the afternoon was to ski over to Lift 4, the home of The Bavarian Lodge & Restaurant. We couldn’t get there any other way; we had to go up to the top of the mountain and ski over to the other side. It was Zach’s longest run yet and it took us a while to get down, so we were ready for our reward: goulash and beer.

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Our final descent to the Bavarian

Our final descent to the Bavarian

The Bavarian Lodge

The Bavarian Lodge

We ended up at The Bavarian both days that we skied. It was a cozy place we looked forward to after a morning of skiing. We filled our second day with even more runs. Unfortunately, the mountain was covered in clouds. For most of the day tiny snowflakes stung our faces. Although the visibility was poor, we had our most successful day. We tackled our first blues in Taos and Zach’s first blues in the US. I wouldn’t hesitate to ski there again. I really enjoyed the length and variation of the trails and of course, being able to ski up to The Bavarian. Hopefully we can get back to Taos next season!

Zach reading the trail map

Zach reading the trail map

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Lift Selfie!

Lift Selfie!

Lift 1 appeared even more daunting on our second day as clouds covered most of the mountain. 

Lift 1 appeared even more daunting on our second day as clouds covered most of the mountain.

Rio Grande Gorge Bridge

We wanted to check out the Rio Grande Gorge Bridge but chose to do so on a particularly windy day. Even still, the view from the bridge was quite a sight. All of a sudden the earth opens up and drops 800 feet to the Rio Grande below. Hot air balloon rides are offered in the summer which would offer a fantastic view of the gorge. Maybe we can do that next time.

Approaching the gorge

Approaching the gorge

Sangre de Cristo covered by clouds

Sangre de Cristo covered by clouds

Looking from the bridge down into the gorge

Looking from the bridge down into the gorge

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Manby Hot Springs

On Christmas Day Zach decided we should go check out some of the natural hot springs along the Rio Grande. I was a little less than enthusiastic because it was already cold outside and it was supposed to snow in a few hours, but I went anyway. It was a long, slow drive down a dirt road to the parking area next to the gorge. We parked and then hiked a half-mile down an old stagecoach road to the Rio Grande. When we arrived the sun was out and shining. We had great views of the river and gorge as we hiked down in the mud and snow. As we neared the bottom we finally caught a glimpse of the springs.

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Beautiful view of the gorge and river

Beautiful view of the gorge and river

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The natural hot springs

The natural hot springs

I also caught a glimpse of something else – a herd of bighorn sheep! We were able to get down to the springs without interfering with them, and they allowed us to observe them as we soaked. It was a bit windy out and the water didn’t fully cover our shoulders so we were still a bit chilly. However, the scenery more than made up for it.

The view from our "tub"

Our “tub”

Our buddies

Our buddies

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Merry Christmas!

Merry Christmas!

Another pool better protected from the wind

Another pool better protected from the wind

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We noticed a large group hiking down the gorge after a while, so we decided it was time to leave. The wind had turned colder, the sky had darkened, and snow was just beginning to hit us. As we stood up to the most excruciating cold I have ever experienced, snowflakes pierced our bodies with stinging regularity. We dried off as best we could, put our clothes on quickly, and began the hike out of the gorge.

The new arrivals being pelted by snow

The new arrivals being pelted by snow

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Our view wasn't so wonderful anymore

Our view wasn’t so wonderful anymore

We had a wonderful time visiting Taos in the winter, and I hope we’ll get to experience Taos in the summer at some point. There was so much more I wanted to do (snowshoe!) so hopefully we’ll be back. We got in a lot of R&R before driving back to Texas to see our families and friends.

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