A Rare Beauty

Now is a good time to hike the Aspeñola Trail. It is one of the trails on the Passport to the Pajarito Plateau, the air is a bit cooler, and hikers can easily find beautiful flowers.
 
In early June Chick Keller saw an abundance of beautiful flowers including a particularly intriguing plant, a very rare orchid. Spring orchid (Corallorhiza wisteria) is found in only three areas, all in the Jemez Mountains: Valles Caldera, San Pedro Parks Wilderness, and Los Alamos County.
 
Chick found the orchid on the uphill side of the the lower Aspeñola Trail, just past where an old dirt road crosses the trail. For those with GPS, the location is 35° 53’ 31”N, 106° 23’ 06”W, and altitude about 9,230 ft.
 
It is well worth a look, and you can add another trail to your passport booklet!
 
Finding the Trail:
Aspeñola Trailhead is on the way to the ski hill. Before the ski lodge, there is a sharp “S” turn. Between the first and second curves is a parking lot with a red iron gate closing off the road down to the eastern chair lift. The trail starts to the right of that gate (don’t go down the road). You will see a fork, the upper one is the upper Aspeñola Trail and the lower one is, you guessed it, the lower Aspeñola Trail.