I’ve been curious about the area around Carrizozo, which includes a vast lava flow and a peak over 12,000 feet. My dad and Sarah come south for a visit, picking me up in Santa Fe before continuing to the Valley of Fires state park campground outside Carrizozo. I start the day watching the sun rise over the Malpais, 125 square miles of cooled lava. Later Dad and I venture around the east side of the nearby Sierra Blanca mountains, where we find a trail up 9,957-ft Nogal Peak. The mountains surprise me with the diversity of plant and animal life we find there.