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Hiking Up High

Hiking Up High

I have done a nice semi flat hike now it is time to do some hiking up high. I am not ready to go way up high as in Deception Peak at over 12,000 feet however I am ready for Atalya mountain trail. This trial is a 2,000-foot elevation gain to the summit of 9,121 feet.

Still Locked Down

Our good Governor here in the Land of Enchantment (that is what we call the State of New

Side bell penstemon along the trail.

Side bell penstemon along the trail.

Mexico) has loosened the lock down. Loosened just a bit that is. Museums and all the sites tourist come to Santa Fe to see are still under lock and key. But New Mexico is called the Land of Enchantment because its natural beauty is enchanting.

Experience the Enchantment

In the current situation and under any conditions to truly experience the enchantment I say you must get out and hike. This time I decided to go hiking up high. For those who are thinking hiking up high, that sounds strenuous. It may be beyond what I can do. I say try it and I guarantee you will like it.

Atalya Trail
Sunshine streaming through the ponderosa pines.

On Atalya sunshine streams through the ponderosa pines.

The trail up Atalya mountain is a fairly famous and popular trail here in Santa Fe. Real hiking men and women talk about doing the trail in two hours. I’m not into speed. I’m into the

experience and of course the views. Plus, I’m not young and crazy! My round trip took a little over five hours. The five hours included time at the summit for little lunch and to take in the excellent views.

Worth the Effort

Along the trail there are several branches. One branch says ‘steep’ the other less so.  Even following the less so branches I had

On top of Atalya with Santa Fe below & the Jemez mt.

On top of Atalya with Santa Fe below & the Jemez mt. 50 miles distant.

to stop every now and then to get my breath. I kept marching on, working my legs and using my trekking poles to work my upper body. The tree provided shade but the patches of sunshine felt good. When I reached the top, I knew that hiking up high had been worth the effort.

Check out Santa Fe Footprints for hikes and historic tour around Santa Fe.

I Need Fresh Air

I Need Fresh Air

I need fresh air. We are still locked down. The NYT has published stories that sun, warm temperatures MAY not kill this virus. Never mind that it kills all known viruses and fresh air and sunshine has been good for people for centuries.

Where to Go?
A beautiful day to be on a trail

A beautiful day to be on a trail in the Galisteo Basin. You can see for 50 miles.

The main question I had was where to go. Last week I had led a group up into the mountains and hiked among the trees. This week I wanted semi flat and wide-open terrain. I knew the trails at Galisteo Basin were just the ticket. The Galisteo Basin is only a fifteen-minute drive south of Santa Fe.

The Hike.
Old windmill stand silent

Old windmill stand silent along a trail in the Galisteo Basin.

I began the hike at 8:30 am. I need fresh air and it was plentiful. The temperature was just right. Not to cool and not to hot. The sky was clear and the sun was shining bright. The views extended for 50 miles in all direction. I like these trails because as I said they are fairly flat. At least they start out that way. The view is un-interrupted for 360 degrees around you. Starting a hike on this fairly flat terrain allows your mussels to flex and stretch.  You fill your lungs with fresh clean air and spirts begin to lift.

Going up.

The trails at Galisteo Basin are not all flat. After you get your legs working and you breath in copious amounts of fresh Santa Fe air you begin to go up hill. The ridges are not too high. Just enough to work the legs a bit more. The climb makes me take some deep breaths. I take more deep breaths. I need fresh air! I’m getting that fresh air!

On Top

The ridges are certainly not the top of the world here around Santa Fe but they do provide and unobstructed view for miles around.  I never get tired of these fantastic views which hiking around Santa Fe provide.

Finish

Three hours on the trial has revived my spirts and given me hope for the future.

A hike with Santa Fe Footprints is just the ticket for you.

Get Out and HIKE!

Get Out and HIKE!

The group on the Borrego trail

The group on the Borrego trail

Panic!

Yes! Get out and hike! The COVID panic has utterly destroyed the tourist season here in Santa Fe. The panicky governor and hysterical mayor have shut-down all of the art festivals that make June, July and August in Santa Fe so enjoyable. Never mind that a virus can not survive in the sun and 80+ degrees temperatures. Not satisfied with destroying the art fairs they have closed all the wonderful shops. If you want to go to Home Depot or Lowes, fine. If you where interested in Indian art or the excellent Santa Fe shopping scene, forget about it. So what can you do? Get out and hike!

Are you in Danger?

Now it is true that the virus effects virtually no one under 50. If you are 60+ there is maybe a .5% of catching something. But don’t worry our hospitals have plenty of room! True they are laying off staff but on the .05% chance you need the hospital you will be welcomed with open arms!

The Santa Fe economy

The economy of Santa Fe is based on three main pillars. The art scene, tourism and state government. The government has deliberately destroyed the first two. So, what is a likely tourist supposed to do? Get out and hike!

Hiking trails are open!

There is one activity that the COVID dictators have not been able to crush. It is also one of the best parts about visiting Santa Fe. This activity is hiking the many trails around the city. They have closed the National parks like Bandelier and Tent Rocks but the hiking trails in the surrounding mountains are open.

Were can you hike?

A few days ago, I drove up Hyde Park Road towards the ski area. Cars filled the parking areas at the numerous trail heads along the road. I finally found a space at the Borrego trail head.

Free at last!

It was a beautiful day for hiking. The temperature up in the mountains was about 60. The sun was shining and creating incredible shadows through the trees. Everyone on the trail and in out  of our Santa Fe Footprints group observed proper, if in my view unnecessary, distancing. The pure mountain air was invigorating and the exorcise got everyone’s blood pumping.

Don’t be a prisoner!

The lesson is don’t be a prisoner! The mountains and hiking trails of Santa Fe are waiting for you! GET OUT and HIKE !!!!

Grand Canyon Road Trip Day 1

Grand Canyon Road Trip Day 1


El TovarDesert View TowerDesert View TowerMurals inside the towerSunset over the Grand CanyonSunset facing west at the Grand Canyon

I decided before my Tours of Santa Fe business picked up (this was on Feb 28, before the corona virus brought the tour business to a stand still) we should get out of town.  A  Grand Canyon road trip was just the ticket. I-25 being a north south route has some traffic but mostly cars so when we got on I-40 I was surprised at the heavy truck traffic. Trucks in front, back and beside me.

Arrival at the canyon

We arrived at the El Tovar a little after 5:00. El Tovar is the classic hotel right on the canyon rim. It is the first hotel built on the Grand Canyon and it was built by the Santa Fe railroad. As with all old Santa Fe railroad hotels it was managed by the Fred Harvey company. We could not get a room in the El Tovar but we did have a canyon view room in Kachina Lodge. Kachina is next to El Tovar and was built in the 60s. You check in at El Tovar and then try and I emphasize try to find a parking place. It was surprising that there is so little parking.

Grand Canyon Day 1

We got up a bit late on our first day at the Grand Canyon. This was a relaxing trip so we relaxed. We walked the short distance along the canyon rim trail to El Tovar for a nice breakfast to start the day. After breakfast we walked to the Verkamp’s Visitors Center for more information. The man in the center advised driving along the rim road (AZ-64) to the Desert View tower with stops along the way. Now on our Grand Canyon road trip we will see the canyon!

We got the car and headed out for our rim trail adventure. Out first stop was the main park Visitors center. It is a big facility with five parking lots. Very up to date unlike the Village where we are staying. Again, I was surprised at the crowds. This is the off season but the number of people there made us wonder what it is like during the high season. It must be difficult to even get close enough to see the canyon!

Squirrels!!!

We walked out to Mathers point and the view was spectacular. Most of the people there were Asians, speaking Spanish or some strange European language. Occasionally we would hear English, but not often. Everywhere there are signs saying don’t feed the squirrels or any wild life. Of course a large group of Spanish speakers were feeding a squirrel! He was standing on his hind legs begging for food. Squirrel bites are the most common injury at the canyon. Maybe they need signs in all languages!

Desert View Tower

Desert view is a stone tower at the end of the rim road. It was designed by Mary Colter in 1932. It is a round stone tower 70 feet high and provides the highest viewing along the south rim. The interior is covered in fantastic Indian murals. The tower is designed to look like an ancient ruin. The climb up the inside with all the murals and lookout windows was one of the highlights of the trip. The Desert View tower is not to be missed.

Road to Hermits Rest

When we arrived back at the village we decided to continue the drive west to Hermits rest. This was the last day the road will be open to private cars. Starting on March 1st only shuttle busses will be on the road.

We started from Bright Angle lodge and drove along the road. The viewpoints were smaller but the canyon drop off were more dramatic. From several of the viewpoints you can see the Bright Angle trail leading down the canyon to the river and Phantom Ranch. One particular view point is called the Abyss. The walls go straight down in a dramatic fashion.

Ready for a steak and some brews

After a fantastic day along the canyon rim we were looking forward to a steak dinner. Also a few good cold brews. We were going to the Arizona Steak house at Bright Angle lodge but when we arrived it was closed! Remodeling don’t you know. Nothing on any of the websites about that. This is the time of year when they do a lot of work such as a remodel but they should tell people and not just let them find out when they try and go there!

Food at last !

So, we went to the Harvey Burger Café in Bright Angle lodge. What a complete disaster. The place was mobbed so we waited almost 45 minutes to get in. When we finally did we sat in an area that was supposed to be the bar. The bar was being remodeled so this was just a few tables plus a table with plus a table full of booze bottles. The service was terrible and the food mediocre at best. Not a good way to end a great day of our Grand Canyon road trip.

Death Valley Road Trip

When a friend asked if I would like to do a road trip to Death Valley this past January, how could I refuse.

This was the best time to experience Death Valley due to the temperatures. In the summer it is the hottest place in the USA. Temp should range from 38 to 65 so we had to bring warm and light clothes. We weren’t sure what to bring, but we are guys a pair of jeans, hiking pants, couple of shirts and warm jackets were all we needed. No need for four or five pairs of shoes !!

Off to Death Valley

We fly from Santa Fe to Las Vegas then our road trip begins as we drive toward Death Valley. The Nevada town of Pahrump was the last stop in Nevada before California and Death Valley. You just have to love a town called Pahrump!

We are in Death Valley. The lowest, hottest and driest place in the USA. This is truly a unique and odd place. I expected interesting scenery but I was taken aback by the incredible and uniqueness of the place. Only the pictures of the Artist Plate, The Devils Golf Course and Bad Water Basin can do Justus. They are in the slide show.  It is a truly incredible place.

The Devils Golf CourseSunset at Bad Water basinUbehebe creatorDarwin FallsSunset on the sand dunesThe Red Rock Cathedral

We had dinner at the Ranch Steak house which is quite the place. Lots of old west stuff on the walls. We were both a bit shocked at the prices. This is the only place for miles around and everything has to be shipped in but still, $48 for an ok steak. Well the beer was cold.

Day 2 in Death Valley

Today we started out on the Salt Marsh and it was cold. 30 some odd and windy. The little salt stream is supposed to have puppy fish. We saw none.

Next was the Keane Wonder Mine. A gold mine from the early 1900s. Fun to visit with an old mining engineer.

Then the Ubehebe crater. This is a volcano and the landscape is amazing. I was surprised that there were about 8 cars in the lot because we had seen none on the drive out. We hiked about half way around and up to Little Ubehebe. We had our  lunch, PBJ sandwiches made in the morning, as we sat overlooking this amazing sight.

Next stop was Darwin falls, the only water in Death Valley. We hiked up to the falls, which are not big, maybe 12 to 15 feet but still nice. We found a photographer from Santa Fe there with a pro camera. His studio is in Santa Fe but I have not stopped in to see his work or the picture he took of the fall. On the way back, I wondered what happens to the river, stream actually. We followed it and eventually is just disappears into the sand.

Day 3 in Death Valley

The Mosaic Canyon trail leads up a canyon with many colored rock formations. A nice hike up a fairly flat canyon. We climb a bit then decided that it was late and well we didn’t want to climb the big rocks. One interesting thing is we kept running into the same groups of people at each stop. All nice folks and we all headed to the Mesquite Sand Dunes for a sunset docent tour.

The docent pointed out various tracks of the little critter that live on the dunes. Beatles, Kangaroo rats and other stuff. We saw a bug but no rats. We stayed until after sunset. With the setting sun the mountains become purple.  Purple mountains, majesty.

Final Day in Death Valley

The final stop in Death Valley was the Golden Canyon trail. Again, we run into several groups from the day before. The trail leads up a canyon to the Red Rock Cathedral. Impressive sight. We got to the base and climb up a bit but decided we didn’t have time to go to the top. Also, it looked really hard. All the young kids did it so more power to them !!!!

An excellent road trip. It was colder than I had expected and I sort of would like to experience Death Valley in July when temperatures can reach 120 degrees. Then you would know you were in Death Valley !!!

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