|Eagle Nest Lodge|
So cameras in Big Blue I motored to the thrift store in Eagle Nest, New Mexico and arrived too early for the favorite to be open but just in time for a great series of photos with awesome lighting. There are three major landmarks which I have photographed as a marker of my time this side of the mountain: Eagle Nest Lodge, Eagle Nest Lake, and Wheeler Peak.
When I talk of life on this side of the mountain (as opposed to the Taos County side I once lived in) it is this mountain I am talking about. Well, Wheeler and Old Mike to the left. From Angel Fire you actually see Old Mike but we tell the tourists it is Wheeler. Just seems easier.
It is notable that for mid December there is precious little snow on the top of the mountain or even further down. It does not bode well for Eagle Nest lake at its base.
|Eagle Nest Lake at 50% Capacity|
How low the lake is probably best explained in the opening photograph. Note all the rings of grass and imagine the water covering all that grass to just the other side of the cottonwoods. In the photo above the water would come up to the first broken ring of conifers all around the lake. Color that blue.
For those greatly distressed by the low level of the lake let me assure you it has been lower. Or so the State Engineer explained on a recent dam tour. Mind you I am opposed to dams in general but this is one dam that is being used for the reason it was built - to preserve water for irrigation of ranches down stream. But if you left it to the visitors and citizens of Eagle Nest they would want to keep it all. But the Cimarron River downstream is a viable fishery which also requires water. Fish need to swim. And the town of Raton gets I believe a large segment of its drinking water from the melted snow contained here. At the moment there is not enough melted snow.
|Casa Loma and Eagle Nest Lodge|
But when the lake is full no doubt the old Eagle Nest Lodge has a ringside seat. It was built in the late 1920's and is shrouded in legend as to its history, the fire(s) and its closing. Growing up in New Mexico I know of many tales of the "speak easy" days and the gangsters and free spirits who escaped here. Scheduled for demolition since the early 2000's I was surprised to find upon my last visit it has been sold.
The bulldozer is frequently under appreciated as a remodeling tool in New Mexico. And the lodge crumbles on some beautiful property. I had to get out with my camera and record what might well be its last days. And its view of the thirsty lake and the spring like mountains. I think there are ghosts too and wrote a short story about the lodge which appeared in a collection, Enchanted Circle Mysteries, available at the library in Angel Fire.
It was a beautiful day in the neighborhood and I sometimes wish we could just erect entry ports on all our major highways and require visas to visit here. I am not sure I am happy we are a part of the United States just about now.