Just before COVID-19 became headline news in the U.S. in March 2020, we rewarded ourselves with a quick trip to Santa Fe, New Mexico. It was cut short two days when we got nervous about being away from home. Here are posts about our train ride and some sights in Santa Fe.
An hour northwest from Santa Fe is Bandelier National Monument. Bandelier is part of Frijoles Canyon, which branches from the Rio Grande River. We were blessed with a warm, sunny day for our visit. Follow this link for a satellite view of the site. Click on any photos in this post for larger views.
One of the first places we visited in Santa Fe was the Cathedral Basilica of Saint Francis of Assisi built by Archbishop Jean Baptiste Lamy between 1869 and 1886. It is located near the center of town a block from the main plaza. Click to enlarge the photos.
Sunday broke with a forecast for more mixed weather, including the possibility of rain. We wanted to take in one more significant trail before heading east into Oklahoma again. The trail we chose was the Lake Williams trail. As with the Devisadero trail from last week, the Lake Williams trail resides within the vast Carson National Forest.
The trailhead elevation is at approximately 10,200 feet in the Taos Ski Valley, north of the city of Taos. It is an out and back trail of 1.9 miles each direction, or a total of just under 4 miles. The highest elevation is just before the lake itself, at 11,142 feet. The footing was difficult in some places with jagged rocks and exposed roots. In other areas it was reasonably smooth. The elevation was the most difficult aspect, and we didn’t have much trouble with that. Taking breaks as needed, going at our own pace, got us to the lake very comfortably. Click on any individual picture in the gallery to see them larger. Then, below each is a view full-size button.
Besides the Lake Williams trail, hikers could take a branch up to Wheeler Peak, New Mexico’s highest elevation at 13,167 ft.
The blue blazes marked the trail.
Pretty tricky footing in some spots, though the trail was wide and well marked.
Mountainsides showed where slides and avalanches occur.
Melanie’s BIG rock, though only about 4 feet across. It had beautiful coloring including the lichens.
The influence of the Spanish on the Native American and Mexican families of the southwest is strong. One can see it in the culture and the architecture. An example is the mission church in Ranchos de Taos a few miles south of Taos, New Mexico. It is called San Francisco de Asis. The sign by the road tells part of the story.
We arrived late morning intending to view the interior. A funeral service was in progress. So, we didn’t tour inside. The exterior is one of the most photographed and painted churches in the Americas.
Painted and imaged by Georgia O’Keeffe and Ansel Adams, among many other artists.
For months, we have hiked ever increasing distances and terrain to prepare for hiking in the mountains near Taos. This day, we chose to hike the Devisadero Peak Loop trail just to the east of Taos. We look out the windows of our casita to see these mountains as the sun rises over them in the morning. We arrived soon after 8 am. It was still about 48˚F. The climb was from 7200 ft up to 8300 ft. The trail continued after the peak. It looped around and followed the contours of the mountains back down.
We reached an early vantage point early in the climb which looked out over the town of Taos and the valley beyond.
A lot of prickly pear cactus grew along the trail. Care needed to be take not to bump your ankles onto it.
We were pretty well acclimated by now to the elevation. It was a reasonably strenuous climb. But, we made frequent stops for shade and water.
There were a lot of switchbacks in the trail. We ascended on the left trail and continued on the right. Footing was sometimes smooth and easy. Other times it was loose and rugged. Parts of the trail had larger steps of rock ledges. Closer to the top we got into an area with a lot of round granite rock. We needed to be more careful not to twist an ankle.
Step back just a little bit farther…farther…one more step. Oooooops!
It was a challenging climb to the top for two flat-landers from Iowa. We don’t encounter elevation above 800 ft in our neighborhoods. We were proud of how strong we felt. It was a good feeling to be fit and able to make the climb without feeling exhausted.
The climb down was not as easy as we hoped. Melanie felt a fair amount of pain in her knees. She wore a brace which helped. It took a lot longer that we expected to descend. We got all the way down with no falls or stumbles and no permanent injury. Today we feel fine. We may get one more big hike in before we have to go.
Adobe and blue sky are two features of the Taos, New Mexico area. We walked around the central part of town, stopping in small shops, speaking with the owners about their work. Each tiny side street has surprises.
It seems the sky is just the right color every day.
Shadows cast by the morning sun were just right.
Our ‘home’ for the week is this one bedroom casita about a mile from downtown. The owners lived in it while their larger home was being built. Now it serves as a rental. It is clean, quiet, and rests at the base of the mountains just to the east.
Living room and kitchen at left. Bedroom at right.
Near sunset recently, we drove a short distance to the bridge over the Gorge of the Rio Grande. We hiked two miles along the west rim as the sun set. No one else was on the trail.
The bridge is 565 ft above the river…7th highest in the U.S.