Monday, September 20, 2010

Fall 2010

In Durango, CO., the beginning of Fall is here! The colors above 9,000 feet are primetime and below are just beginning. The real estate activity has increased dramatically, the elk are bugling and those who have time can enjoy solitude on all the best trout streams in the area. The weather has averaged about 75 each day and in the 50's at night, clear and no wind...just perfect! I don't think there could be any better place to live in the world.

What's news? Jenni & I saw the Zac Brown Band Saturday night in Albuquerque for our 15th wedding anniversary...awesome show! Business is good with people starting to take advantage of the incredible buying opportunities. Many speculate that the housing market nationally will continue to decline over the next 2 to 3 years but it really depends on the labor market and how much of the existing inventory gets absorbed. Certain properties and areas, such as Durango and such as beautiful alpine ranches with water, are still a premium and in demand. There have been some monumental sales in the area for this type of property and lots of "qualified" people in the area searching. Although the value is still high for these type of properties, the good news is that there are more on the market so it's a good time to find the one with the right amenities; whereas, they generally don't exist.

Monday, February 22, 2010

Durango winter 2010

I recall growing up in Pagosa Springs, Colorado jumping off the roof of the house into the piled snow, a moderate drop. This is one of those years! Thus far, at my home west of Durango at just under 8000 feet in elevation, we have had nearly 14 feet (about 160") of snow and it's still snowing! Two years ago we had 15 feet of snow total so it looks like we should surpass that amount. It's been great for skiing, snowmobiling, ice-fishing, etc...with numerous nice weather breaks between storms. Purgatory (Durango) is reporting a 76" mid-way base with 15" in the past 48 hours and still snowing. Wolf Creek (Pagosa Springs) is reporting 128" mid-way depth and a total of 347" (that's 29 feet!!!) so far this season. I worry a bit about the elk and deer herds as I see one lone elk each night about 300 yards from my house. Separated from the herd is not a good thing and I'm afraid there will be winter kill this year. That's nature, however, and Spring & Summer should be just gorgeous! This will be a good year to visit the high country if you like wildflowers, lush meadows and streams.

On the real estate front, December through February have all exceeded prior years going all the way back to 2006. That's a good sign that we have hit bottom and are slowly climbing back. 2010 will be a year of opportunity as bank sales, short sales and foreclosures are expected to be prevalent. There are currently nearly 80 properties under contract in La Plata County (a county of approximately 40,000 people). That is pretty good.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Ice fishing & snowmobiling Durango Colorado

Vallecito lake on a crisp clear morning, the snow glistening, one more pull and the familiar smell of snowmobile exhaust rises. The snow is fresh and light, the kind of snow that makes it tough on smaller, shorter sleds. A powder special is required coupled with an experienced rider to break trail. We load the ice fishing equipment on my daughter's little plastic red sled while Condy takes a test run through the trees to make sure we get our exercise for the day helping him get unstuck!

Today, is an adult fishing day and although the girls love to come, it's a bit cold and we're the only ones crazy enough to get up that early. All guys of course, the girls wouldn't dream of spending their Saturday on a frozen lake! After an hour of riding in the trees and up the Middle Mountain road, we're ready to fish. Today, we're going after big Brown Trout and, hopefully, the odd pike. A few years back the state record Brown was caught at Vallecito...34 pounds I believe. I'm not sure if it still stands but there's bound to be more.

The scene is breathtaking as we prepare the holes, the hut and our equipment. To the north and east are the peaks of the Weminuche Wilderness, rugged and beautiful and looking very intimidating at the moment as whispy clouds hover over the high basins. Nobody else on the lake, wonder what that means? It's late January and the ice is about 16" thick, good thing Steve bought that ice auger. Last year, at a lake above South Fork, CO, the ice was over 3 1/2 ft and our auger wouldnt' go all the way through. It pays to have a bar in your truck just in case.

The day slowly drifts on as we sit huddled like worshipers jigging our spoon with a worm on the hook. Condy is using power bait and has already caught 2 stockers but we're determined to find a lone Brown or Pike. Suddenly, Steve's running across the ice, a dangerous proposition, from his relief stance and dives for his 2 foot pole that looks like it's going in. This is a big one, when all of sudden my pole starts dancing and I too have a big one. So big in fact, neither one of us is making any ground...could we have a pair of 20 pound Browns? Condy never moves out of his chair but makes a snide comment that we have the same fish...could it be? line breaks and Steve's heavy load becomes a 2 pound Rainbow, nice...with 2 hooks in his mouth! Plenty of excitement on a day when none is needed!

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Ski or fish?

Ah...winter in the Rockies. So many activities and YES, the time to do them (aside from holiday traveling of course). Real estate is generally slower this time of year, although the cunning come and look in the deep winter to see what they're getting into! Nevertheless, there is some time for outdoor recreation. Skiing at Purgatory and Wolf Creek are my preference...both are great and small enough you don't get lost but large enough you get plenty tired! However, I don't generally ski until later in the winter when the holiday crowds subside. Now is the time for fishing and hunting.

If we get a steady period of warm weather in Durango (3 days + at 40 degrees +) the Animas River can be stellar. Fish deeper holes dredging nymphs along the bottom or slowly retrieving leeches from below. Large fish generally appear from the depths this time of year. If it's cold, a trip to the San Juan River is appealing as the crowds are sparse and the side channel fishing can be great. If you can use a drift boat, do so but not for better fishing only comfort. I tend to catch more fish wading. Ice fishing season generally starts about January 15th when the ice becomes reliable, more on this & hunting later...

Friday, December 18, 2009

2009 Oryx hunt

It all started with seeing an Oryx mount hanging on the newly decorated wall of my friend's new home in Durango. I was astonished at the beauty and he urged me to begin applying for the once in a lifetime hunt at White Sands Missle Range in southern New Mexico assuring me that it would take 10 years or so to draw.

Next thing I know, I'm packing up the truck heading to Alamagordo, NM with my buddy, Steve, Oryx tag in hand! It's an expensive tag but as I come to discover, well worth the money. The Oryx was introduced into White Sands in 1969 with several releases through the mid-70's and the habitat and lack of predators (like Lions & Leopards) proved to be a suitable and thriving situation. Thus, the depredation hunt each year that I am now remembering.

The most consistent advice given to me from each person I spoke to that has experience with these animals is to not underestimate their toughness. I soon came to discover that they are also very difficult to spot as they blend in perfectly with the Mesquite and tall Serengetti like grass. I also learned they are very good at keeping just enough distance between you making a stalk near impossible in open country. Therefore, Steve and I implemented our Colorado stalk method and took to the hills. We found a small group bedded from about a mile away and decided on our stalk route...isn't wonderful when a plan comes to fruition? I was fortunate enough to make a shot (actually 3 shots) and obtain one of these fine animals. After giving thanks, we reflected on the hunt and how magnificent it was to see these exotic animals so close to home.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

To guide or not to guide.

For many who are contemplating a hunting or fishing trip to a new area, it is advisable to research the many outfitters in the area. For the most part, these outfitters have excellent resources to guide you to the type of adventure you are after. Although a guide is not always necessary, I feel the "local knowledge" is invaluable, especially on your first few trips. In fact, I often hire the services of a guide in areas I am unfamiliar and find that the techniques, equipment and experience of the guide is generally an eye opener for me. For instance, I've implemented many casting techniques learned in Oregon Steelhead fishing in my home waters finding it more effective than the techniques I formerly used. For the "do it yourselfer" make sure you take advantage of the local shops as many locals convene to tell stories in these shops and an incredible amount of valuable information is shared. They also have all the maps and equipment you may need. Keep in mind, however, you will not get the insider information unless you are accompanied by a guide.

Real estate features, an outdoorsman's perspective...

In SW Colorado many of the prospects looking to purchase real estate are looking for specific amenities in a property. Some of these attributes are live water, bordering public land, privacy, scenic property and views. Of these, the two that most drive premium prices are live water and public land. A property that has some of these features and is nicely located is a sound investment. It is also important to research how near electric, phone and a domestic water source is to the propery. Because we are blessed to have an abundant amount of public land in SW Colorado and northern NM, developable land is limited; therefore, properties that attain these wonderful attributes can be a premium. However, I have found that these kind of properties are always in demand and appreciate very well. One note, not only outdoorsmen appreciate these attributes so as Will Rogers said, "Buy land and wait, don't wait to buy land."