Sunday, July 6, 2008

New Mexico's Jémez Mountains

Joe and Ned on the Trail

We awoke excited today because it was the day we would join up with Mary. I think we set a record breaking camp which was good because we had a long drive through the mountains.

The drive was a beautiful one. As we drove through the mountains and down into valleys the view would change from tall pines to high desert. We crossed over a dam and looked out over the Abiquiu Resevoir. The road would go from paved to gravel and one part twisted its way down and back up a valley with hairpin turns.

We made two stops on the way to Santa Fe. Our first was at the East Fork of the Jémez River. We hiked up this beautiful valley for a mile along the river. It is a very popular spot for rock climbers and they were out climbing the cliff faces near the trailhead. If time had allowed we could have continued on to Jémez Falls. We were running a little late because of the twisting road and construction but still we had one more stop.

Bandelier National Monument covers about 34,000 acres though most visitors only see a very small portion of that. The main attraction is in Frijoles Canyon where there are the remains of cliff face dwellings. After getting Junior Ranger books for the boys we set out on the Long House Loop trail.

This takes you past the foundations of a large circular pueblo and then along the cliff face where you can see the places where homes once stood. There are petroglyphs scratched into the cliff face and a few ladders to climb into a hollowed out room. When we returned to the visitors center there was a group of dancers from the Cochiti Pueblo demonstrating some of the different dances they perform at rituals. The Cochiti are the ancestors of the people that originally inhabited Frijoles Canyon. After watching the dancing the boys successfully completed their Junior Ranger badges and we left for Santa Fe.

Neal, Mary’s brother, had booked us into the Hotel Santa Fe since their house is a bit small and partially under construction. We got to the hotel and soon Mary and Neal showed up and we had a happy reunion. We walked into town and stopped at the Georgia O’Keefe Museum. They had an exhibit on her and Ansel Adams. Hungry, we continued our walk into town and had a fantastic dinner at the Coyote Café Cantina. Returning to the hotel Mary and the boys went down to the pool and then we all went to bed.

Looking North Through the Jémez Mountains

Joe's Ansel Adam Picture

The East Fork of the Jémez River

Joe Leads the Way at Bandelier National Monument

Ned Climbs a Ladder to Investigate an Ancient Room

The Frijoles Canyon With the Long House

Joe Waits for Ned to Ascend the Ladder

A Member of the Cochiti Pueblo Does the Corn Dance

Carson National Forest, NM to Santa Fe, NM, 206 miles 5 hrs 47 min

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