Jemez Mountain Trail

Trip Start Jan 21, 2013
Trip End Oct 10, 2013

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Flag of United States  , New Mexico
Wednesday, April 3, 2013

After a good last night in Santa Fe due to Andy finding a great Tapas restaurant, we loaded up the old wagon with its 200 horses --oh I meant to say horsepower and we set off for the easy drive to Los Alamos.  We got there in less than an hour and found our Comfort Inn.  They let us check in early which was great as we were able to unload the car before exploring the region.  I mention this hotel because they continually served snacks - popcorn, cookies, trail mix, mints, etc.  It is interesting the difference in all the hotels we have stayed in.  With the exception of one, way back in Miami, they all have been great with very friendly and helpful staff and comfortable rooms.
Having unloaded the car and the bikes, we set off on the Jemez (pronounced Hemez) Mountain Trail - wow!  We entered Bandelier National Monument which protects thousands of archaeological sites scattered across a terrain of rugged canyons.  We stopped to see the cliff dwelling in Frijoles Canyon and, unlike Montezuma's wall in Arizona, we were told that wherever we see a ladder we are welcome to climb it.  To someone who would scale the tallest trees in her neighbourhood when small this was a welcome invitation.  These dwellings were amazing, built into the rock, known as Tuff,  by the native Indians.  We climbed up into dwellings and down into Kivas - round community dwellings always accessed by the roof.  At one stage we climbed up a combination of steps and ladders for a total of 140 steps and ended up in a dwelling high above the trees.  Having hiked about two rugged miles, our bodies ached  a little -- alright a lot!  But the Tsankawi (SAN-kah-wee) district of Bandelier beckoned so off we set again to do the 1.5 mile trail which really was kind of rugged but well worth the effort as it took us through another set of Indian ruins.  The trail started off with a ladder climb!!
By the time we finished, we were really looking forward to the hottub at the Hotel only to find out that it was broken!!!  But, they had some good snacks available!!

The next day we loaded up the old Whiteley truckster again and headed out to see the rest of the Jemez Mountain Trail..  We stopped to look at an amazing expanse of flat grassy land formed by one of the three super volcanoes in the USA.  Next sight was Jemez Falls only half a mile from the Jemez Falls campground but the campground was closed so we started walking down a paved road.  After about 5 minutes of this, Andy turned to me and said - "We have bikes!!" so back we went to the car, unhooked the bikes and set off again.  It was a beautiful ride and we were the only people there - of course, even we were not suppose to be there!
The falls were about a 3 on a scale of 10 but this is New Mexico and water, unlike Ontario, is not very abundant.  By the way, Dave, we were cycling at 9000 ft and only got a little puffy on the uphill.  After meandering by such sights as Battleship rock and the Soda Dam, dipping our hands in a hot spring, we came to the Gilman Tunnels.  The road, if you can call it that, was originally an old railway line that just burrowed through the mountains. (check out the video).
This was a great couple of days and I really love the diversity of this area.
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