Monday, September 11, 2006

Bandelier National Monument

Whoever thought to call a 30K+ acre park a "monument" needs their head examined. This place was pretty cool! Located just outside of Santa Fe, Bandelier National Monument boasts some pretty decent hiking. Since we only had the day, we did the two most popular trails--the Falls trail, which lead us through the Jiminez Mountain range to the Rio Grande river, and the paved trail that passed by some ancient cliff dwellings. Unlike the dwellings at Mesa Verde, which I went to with my dad long ago and far away when I was a kid, these dwellings aren't made in sandstone, but rather in volcanic tuft. Certain compounds in the tuft allowed portions to weather out, which others remained intact. The indigenous people of this area then enlarged the weathered out areas and built in front of them . . . .

This was Garrett's first hike--we bought him a backpack for the occasion, but he really didn't last too long in it . . . I think his little muscles got tired of holding him upright after a while (he still can't sit up on his own yet). At any rate, Brad ended up hiking a large part of the time with an empty pack while Garrett hung out in his sling. He was a decent little hiker, and spent most of the time napping. AND he was three months old to the day.

The only time I really wasn't thrilled with my decision making was when I followed Brad up to what is referred to as the Alcove House--a ceremonial cave on the Main Loop Trail that requires climbing 140 feet into the air on wooden ladders and little stairs carved into the cliff face (there was railing--I am not THAT crazy!) . . . at any rate, all was well until Garrett woke up. Slinging a crying baby back down those ladders and stairs wasn't too fun . . . but it was definately an adventure to remember! Poor Garrett, he had just had enough for one weekend, and we had neglected to realize it was his "home" bedtime when we started up. I don't think I am in a big hurry to travel across two time zones with a baby any time soon!!

We did the falls trail first . . . it boasted some spectacular scenery, including two large waterfalls. The geology of the place was pretty cool too--would share, but that would make for a REALLY long post! So you will just have to go to NM and find out for yourselves. Enjoy the pics--I didn't take the digital on the ruins trail, but will try to scan some of Brad's film pictures in sometime soon.

Brad and I at a Scenic overlook

Yeah, notice the lack of solid ground beneath that chunk of rock my husband is standing on. That man is gonna give me grey hairs very soon!

Tent rocks: the neat bi-product of some tuft being weathered away while other parts remain

The upper falls . . . the sun was all wrong to catch this water fall in its full glory, but apparently it flows into the caldera of an ancient volcanoe, which errupted through the spring that overlaid it. Interesting geology, I reinterate! NM is such an awsome state!

The lower falls

Brad and Garrett during one of the few times he was happy in the pack
One last bit of fabulous NM scenery!

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