Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Hiking and Sight-Seeing at El Maripais National Monument

Rachael and I had a GREAT day !  We started out with breakfast at the hotel.  Note to travelers: pick up extra fruit for backpack at breakfast !  We then drove about 20 minutes to the EL Malipais National Monument.  Rachael thought it was going to be boring, but she soon changed her mind !  Just the drive there was a feast for the eyes !  Rock cliffs, mountains, clear blue skies, it reminded me of the song by America -- Horse with no name.  The site has so much to see, we didn't get to see it all.  First we went to the Sandstone Bluffs which are made of sedimentary rock and then weathered away over the centuries.  This part of the site was the bed of an ocean approximately 150 thousand years ago.  We enjoyed climbing the rocks and saw the natural cisterns that hold water when it rains.  It was also possible to see the alge that grew on the rocks and some of it was still alive.  You could also see where alge had lived and died over the years.

When we were through climbing these rocks we headed to the Natrual Arch that had formed in the rock face.  It was pretty cool, but I would have liked to see it up closer.  I jumped the fence and tried to hike up, but the rocks were loose so I came down.

The next thing we did was go hike on a trail which covered the ancient lava flows.  This was really cool, you could see where the lava had cooled in the midst of moving across the land.  This trail was marked by 'carins', a pile of rocks placed in such a way as they could not have naturally occured.  We had to find the carin ahead before we left the one we were standing near.  It was like a puzzle.  This terrain was very rocky but fun to hike because there really wasn't a trail, just a general direction to follow.  We had to walk over all types of rocks and cracks in the earth.  One interesting thing was the smell.  The area is full of wild sage plants and each time the wind blew we had a great scent of sage.  This particular trail was 8 miles.  We didn't have time to do the whole thing so we just did about 1 mile in and one mile back.  Still, we had a great time.  We saw so many cacti and wildflowers too.  It amazed me how these things can grow in the desert.  Another thing we noticed was the many, many, cow patties we say lying around.  In the past the Indians probably used these for fuel.  One aspect that was really cool was the way the air can be still and then all of a sudden, a burst of wind would whip up.  It was so loud that we could hear it coming.

After this we went to another trail called the Narrows Trail.  This trail took us up the rock face.  We have awesome pictures.  Our only regret is that we started down this trail too late in the afternoon to hike the whole thing.  We wanted to continue but it was already 5:30pm and we were only 1/3 of the way through.  SO, we hiked back and headed for a restaurant for dinner as we had had nothing but trail mix and fruit, and water since breakfast.   We went to a Mexican Steakhouse and had Fajhitas.  The food was very spicey and I needed to have a beer to stop my mouth from burning... Good thing they had Blue Moon on tap !  The waiter told us that most food in NM is spicey.  I guess I learned that lesson !  I started singing "horse with no name" in the car on the way back to the hotel, and Rachael thought that I was joking about it... she is too young to remember that song.  Well, that's all for now... hope you enjoy the pictures !  ....
Today's pics can be found at:  https://picasaweb.google.com/104423898538711271791/June262012ElMaripaisNationalMonument?authkey=Gv1sRgCPzdoZzHvdaeZQ

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