A paper on a medicinal plant is a class requirement. The Fred Wendorf Information Commons offers resources designed for classes taught here.

Today we left the desert behind and headed for the Italionalis Trail near the Taos Ski Valley. The trail was once a mule trail leading to a gold mine.

We hiked alongside a clear stream, which we got to know quite well each of the 14 times we crossed it by jumping from rock to rock. Thanks to the helping hands of Doug and Dr. Ubelaker, the only casualties were a few wet hiking shoes.

We learned that the roots of the wild geranium can stop bleeding, as can the liquid in the stem of the dandelion. And beware of tasting any part of the monk’s hood, a purple flower on a tall stem. It kills more hikers in New Mexico than any other plant.

With a friendly hand from Dr. Ublaker, we successfully jumped from rock to rock on five stream crossings.

We didn’t see any bears but we saw plenty of bear evidence, such as dens and territorial claw marks on aspen trees. I was already on the lookout after seeing bear-spray for sale at the Taos Walgreens. Dr. Ubelaker taught us, however, what to do if we see a bear: Put our hands above our heads to look bigger, make noise and keep from smiling and showing our teeth. No problem there.

Maria: So what’s the bear population around here?

Dr. Ubelaker, the master of understatement: Pretty good.

We passed the road to Julia Roberts’ house on our way back to Taos, then enjoyed 4th of July festivities in Arroyo Seco, a tiny artists’ community. Some celebrated with  ice cream cones, others enjoyed the all-American pastime, shopping. Carol, Sandra, Tomasina and I are all owners of new jewelry.

A male bear claims an aspen grove as his home with a swipe of his huge claw on a tree.

We wrapped up the day with a 50-minute fireworks show in Taos – a great show, and we were freezing by the end.

Facts of the Day

  • Cure for sore feet: Crush the leaves of the yarrow plant in hot water, soak feet.
  • Here is how you tell the difference between a fir and a spruce: fir needles are soft, spruce needles are sticky.
  • The baby beaver has been spotted for the first time this summer. Carol, Regan, Jane and Maria saw him swimming in the pond carrying a sprig of willow in his mouth.

Yarrow flower: after a long hike, soak your feet in hot water and yarrow leaves.