Friday, December 23, 2005
Biking the Bosque del Apache
SAN ANTONIO, NM--Tuesday MaryAnn and I took our bikes down to the Bosque del Apache, figuring that there wouldn't be much traffic on a weekday. We were right...we saw maybe a dozen cars in two hours. The weather was warm, almost balmy.
I have to say that the Bosque del Apache is better on a bike than in a car. You feel a lot closer to nature. Also, in a car, there is something jarring about parking, getting out, and walking to a viewing area...then walking back, getting in, and driving off.
If you are in a mood to try biking it, the Bosque loop roads are laid out in a figure-8. This means that you can park in the middle section so if you get tired or whatever it is easy to do half the trip. The farm loop is nearly 8 miles, and the marsh loop is about 7. The gravel road is firmly packed and easy riding and looking around will still get you about 8 mph, plus stops. We do not have mountain bikes, but had no problems (our tires are not exceptionally skinny either).
In my limited experience, the big flocks are usually on the farm loop. We did see large flocks of Snow Geese and Sandhill Cranes. In one area they were co-mingled. There were also a lot of ducks. We were watching one duck in the weeds near our observation deck. She blended into the marsh so well she was hard to even see. "A female pintail," said a man with binoculars. Click on the image (above right) to find her.
All in all, the area wasn't as heavily populated as I thought it would be. I think a lot of the geese and cranes were out shopping in outlying areas. They would be flying back to the refuge about dusk. The eagles were also not in evidence at this time. I thought I had heard that there was a Whooping Crane down here...an orphan. Now that would have been a real treat, but we didn't see one.
It is so peaceful down here during the week. I am not sure about weekends.
Biking the Bosque is something you should do at least once in your life. It is not hard. You don't have to be "in shape" to do it. And it is SO rewarding.