A Canyon Saunter: Little Bonito with Tom and Abbs

Our next hike as a threesome was a jaunt up to the Crest Trail via the most popular of the routes, Big Bonito to Little Bonito Canyons. Because of the temperatures and some lingering injuries there was a request for an easy hike and I thought this route would be the ticket, but it was clear a mile into our walk that 2 out of 3 parties were not feeling it and that we wouldn’t be doing the whole loop incorporating the Crest and Argentina Canyon Trails. Chucking those expectations out the window we instead we opted to do a little side exploration of Bonito Creek on the way up, walking around the pools and exposed granite creek bed. This time out from the steady incline of the trail seemed to refresh everyone and allowed us to recommence our meander up canyon revitalized.

Near the junction of the Little Bonito with the Crest the views open up drastically and we found ourselves tracking across meadows bursting with yellow rabbitbrush. Because of all the fires across the western states the sky was a dulled blue and the vistas over the White Sands basin muted but there was no lack of clarity across the high country. We couldn’t quite agree on a turnaround point so I ended up going ahead on the trail to a point under Argentina Peak before rejoining Tom and Abby and I’m glad I did since the surrounding high points were looking mint that day.

On our descent we separated just below the Crest Trail, with Tom and Abbs meandering back down Little Bonito while I took the cut off trail that connects the Bonito and Argentina Canyons. Appropriately named the Cut-Across Trail, the route traverses a ridge between the two canyons at a lower elevation than the Crest Trail. Though lacking in expansive views across the White Sands Basin, the track overlooks some gorgeous vistas east across the forest and instantly became a must-repeat for me. Hooking up with the Argentina Canyon Trail I observed the wildflowers and thistle beginning their decline, stems shed of colorful pedal, as well as the slight yellowing of the streamside plants. Tinges of yellow at 8,000 feet marked the very beginning of fall freezes and the changing of seasons – something I am always interested in observing. But that day the sun was strong and the heat continually wafted up the canyon, reminding me that summer was still very much here at this latitude.