Friday, October 24, 2014


Last week we said a sad goodbye to Bandelier National Monument, and headed north to Heron Lake, in the Chama Valley area of New Mexico. The lake was very low, but our campsite had a lovely view of what there was of it, and the surrounding mountains dotted with yellow-leaved aspens. The campground was almost deserted, with many loops closed and few campers, as the normal temperatures for this area are quite low by this time of year. We are benefiting greatly by an unseasonably warm Fall in northern NM.

This was our last hiking trail at Bandelier: the Tsankawi Trail, which takes you up and down steep ladders and along bluffs to cliff dwellings, beautiful vistas, petroglyphs. Often, the trail is over "tuff" - the soft white compressed volcanic ash that make up the cliffs here, and that the cliff dwellers dug into to make dwellings, trails, and steps.

This is the view after climbing the first ladder on the trail
Looking down the second ladder to the trail below. Rather steep.

One of the many awesome petroglyphs along the way

A classic spiral petroglyph
The little holes once held wooden roof-support beams, and this dwelling's cavate (dug out cave, to the left) was deep, with two storage caves off of it!

Foot-worn stair-steps in the tuff up to a small cave

Darell coming down the deeply worn trail of tuff

An upward climb with footholds
Then, onwards to Heron Lake State Park, in Los Ojos:
Our campsite in the Salmon Run campground loop
My shadow, taking a photo looking to the east from the lakeside
Looking west from the campsite

Reflected sunset to the east

Sunset to the west
Next morning, we woke up to this fog!
Foggy view of the lake from our campsite!
It didn't take long to drive out of the fog to the Brazos Cliffs above Los Ojos
The Chinook and Jeep at 10,000+ feet elevation
We ended the week at Sugarite Canyon State Park (no internet or phone service here), near the city of Raton (which has an excellent State Visitors Center - the parking lot of which we are in now: 4G, 4 bars!).
This Sugarite Canyon deer was about 8 feet away from our back door, and just stood there chomping leaves and looking at me as if he was bored!
Next stop: Maxwell National Wildlife Refuge!

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