Fire of the Gods

My first visit in 2018 to one of my favorite places in the world….

Welcome back. According to the dictionary altitude sickness is caused by a lack of oxygen at high altitudes and it takes three forms, the most severe of which can cause death. Altitude sickness also causes confusion and I must have had a dose of that last week when I said I was writing from Cimarron, New Mexico at 65,000 feet. As I’m sure many of you know Cimarron sits at about 6,500 feet.

That was last week and I’ve moved on. Now I’m close to Aqua Fria Peak which has an altitude of 11,078 feet. Agua Fria Peak sits next to the ski area at Angel Fire Resort and my friends I can tell you from my own experience this is a real family oriented place. In my younger days I taught my daughter Loretta to ski here and there were always kids of all ages on the slopes. There are no motels in the area but plenty of condos offering short terms rentals as well as a fantastic lodge for nightly stays. Most of these accommodations are pretty much ski in, ski out and I have to mention that the rates are very reasonable. The resort is in a beautiful valley in the Sangre Christo Mountains in Colfax County which sits in northern New Mexico.

The Moache Ute Indians get most of the credit for naming the area Angel Fire in the early seventeen hundreds. Legend has it that in the 1780s the Utes used the valley for a gathering place and while they were there a strange series of lights appeared. It lasted a long time with splashes of red and orange dancing across the sky all coming from what we now call Aqua Fria Peak. Back then the Utes named the mountain “Fire of the Gods’ and it was later called “Fire of the Angels” by Franciscan monks who settled in the valley. Just a legend you readers may say but the well-known frontiersman Kit Carson documented that he too had seen all the flashing colors of the “fire of the gods.”

Moving forward 238 years, today people familiar with the mountain say the colors are caused by sunlight reflecting off the icy frost on the branches of trees on the mountain. I’ve also been told by locals that this is the time of year when cattle mutilations occur. Whether it is a natural phenomenon or a spaceship from another world, I’ll hear and keep you up to date.

With the beautiful mountain range at its doorstep, Angel Fire is also a popular summer destination for tourists and two years ago the resort added a fancy RV park to attract more summer travelers. Their gondola takes you to the top of the mountain all year around and sitting in the mountaintop restaurant with its million dollar view you can’t beat it, snow or not.

That brings me to the snow report from here and I’m sad to say that so far there is minimal natural snow. Angel Fire does have the best snow making machinery available and it’s been running 24 hours a day. There are several runs open but officials tell me its turning out to be one of the driest years on record which also means millions of dollars in lost revenue. If you like to ski don’t give up hope, I’m predicting a big snow before winter’s over. Follow the Angel Fire website for all the skinny on both winter and summer activities.
Next week I’m going mining for gold in the Moreno Valley along the Red River. It’s what was happening here in the 1800s.

Till then I’ll see ya down the road….

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