Chasing Acequias

Carlitos Springs

One thing I love about exploring (and that PokemonGO players are learning) is that there are treasures everywhere and sometimes they are just beyond our eyesight.

My friend Ryan, is an amazing musician and horn player. We often have lunch together to talk about music and writing and what kind of trajectories artists have to deal with, miniature or major. We each have big plans that are made of tiny and constant hills. One of the things I appreciate about our friendship is that the obstacles never impede a greater sense and need of adventure in both our lives.

My first adventure back from Peru, Ryan directed me to a short hike in the canyon just North off Route 66 near Tijeras.

Carlito Springs is a short hike with a rambling brook and a couple of bridges, but at the top is an abandoned campground with housing structures and shelters. There are several pools that are made by natural aquaducts, acequias, that flow from underground mountain water. The pools are—surprisingly— crystal clear and I could see fish and rocks and pinecones at the bottom as well as some very lush water foliage.

Ryan asked me if I was playing PokemonGO.

Recently, PokemonGO is making a lot of people adventure to find Pokemon in an augmented reality. I was honestly late to the news. In Peru, my limited internet showed me a Pokemon takeover, but I attributed it to a random promotion for a new movie or game, not a new way of exploring.

The game with its reality augmentation is actually extremely clever with a fun premise. It’s giving a few generations of players the chance to “be” the Ash Ketchum or the game avatar of their childhood. I did grow up playing Pokemon, but I have decided not to get this game because, as I told Ryan (who is also not playing) that the thought of looking for Pokemon at Carlito Springs when it’s already so beautiful and perfect, would lessen my appreciation for being here—in place—without them. “Look at this water, at these cliffs. Why would I ever want to see a Pokemon here?” I asked.

After admiring the goldfish, the absence of augmentation, and a safari-garbed child lecturing us on water-sliders, we hiked up to the top of the site and then even further up a hill where we discovered the source of the acequias, a waterfall from the mountain, enhanced with a man-made pump, to ensure it’s continuous flow, a type of augmented reality, maybe, but an allowable one.

On our way back down, we followed a branch of the acequia that led away from Carlito Springs and into the woods. It was a thin green stripe of water, still crystal clear, falling with determined aim down the path in the mountain, until it turned into the babbling river next to the parking lot, welcoming visitors to the haven.


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