Sumner Lake is a reservoir on the Pecos river at Fort Sumner. It is a nice big lake with clean water and a tall dam. Walking along the shore of the lake while listening to the sound of waves was restful. The dam sits by a red rock cliff. Roaring water poured from the side wall at the base of the dam. Overflowing water fell along the face of the dam in graceful patterns. Three turkey vultures were hovering above the cliff in the azure sky. A couple of diving ducks were in and out of the water. They disappeared momentarily and reappeared, and disappeared again. It seemed like they spent more time under the water than on the water. A cormorant rested on top of a drift wood in the middle of the river. It is a good diver. In just a moment, it traveled a long distance under water and resurfaced about twenty feet away. A small lower dam cut down the flow of river. Lots of unknown birds were flying swiftly above the river chasing bugs.
Sumner Lake seems to be popular among fishermen. Most campers spent the day fishing on their boats. According to the interpretive sign by the lake, Sumner Lake is on the flyway of migratory birds. Snow geese from the arctic spend winters here. We didn’t see many wild animals here other than a family of mule deer wondering around the park. There were nine of them.
The red sunset brought a cold, rainy and windy day. In the late afternoon, the rain was still coming down. Suddenly, the sun shone into my eyes from the back windows of the trailer. “There might be a rainbow!” I rushed out and looked up into the sky. Yes! A full rainbow was crossing the lake like a bridge. After a while, a second rainbow appeared above the first rainbow. Perfect double rainbows were above us! The rain stopped and the dark sky brightened to blue. The brilliant double rainbows still hung in the blue sky. What a memorable scene!
The sunset above the lake was equally breathtaking. The spectacular sunset set the lake on fire. The houses and trees on the hill were mirrored on the smooth and peaceful lake. A spectrum of hot colors glowed around the hill and its reflections, and the sunset colors gradually faded and painted pink clouds in the northern sky. A big bird was perched on a tree by the lake. It hovered above the lake for a minute, and then it went back to the same spot and stayed still. It was so quiet, only the sound of big splashes on the lake occasionally broke the silence of this tranquil scenery. And I was immersed in this dreamy scenery. On my way back in the dusk, the sight of mule deer right by the trail surprised me. They all stood still looking up at me with big eyes. I wondered if they were surprised to see me as well.
We went in town to see what it looked like. Fort Sumner is a sleepy town in the northeast of New Mexico with a small population. Among other limited facilities, there is one grocery store and a library in town. They claimed that Billy the Kid was buried here. And there is a museum dedicated to him. We didn’t visit the museum but drove to the cemetery to see his tomb. The landscape of Fort Sumner is high plains with reddish rocks, junipers, and desert plants such as chain cholla. But on the way to the cemetery, we were surprised to see lush green trees and farm fields with green crops (perhaps hay). This area might be the bosque. It was so nice to see an oasis in the middle of desert.
On the road to the Sumner Lake State Park, there was a blue welcoming sign with a fish made from sticks. It says, “Welcome to Chaparral Crest Estates.” The owner of the estate had a display of drift wood arts in front of the red house. I could tell there was a roadrunner, a fish, and a dolphin. The property is for sale. The sign on the wall of the visitor center of Sumner Lakes State Park says summers are hot, winters are cold, and rainfall is scarce here. When we woke up in the freezing morning with heavy frost on the windshield, and heard the sighs of blowing wind most of the time, I understood why few people live here. The wind in spring is strong in New Mexico, we had gust wind up to 65 miles per hour when we were in Carlsbad. I think if I ever have to live at Fort Sumner, I would live in an earthen shelter that could protect me from the wind. So long, Fort Sumner.