Back to the Desert...

Trip Start Jun 01, 2008
Trip End Ongoing

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Flag of United States  , Arizona
Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Waking up at five am to a bus with no driver in a parking lot with no one around and nothing around was a bit odd. As I'd woken up first I was a bit weirded out but after a few more people got up we all sat up and watched the ost magnificent sunrise. Absolutely beautiful! It turned out we were at another spring so after breakfast and bidding morning to a park ranger who responded in possibly the greatest southern way (howdy mam - whilst lifting his hat) I was ecstatic and went for a walk up to the wetlands and sat by a lake full of turtles and fish and snakes and just watched them all swimming around. This place had showers so we all emerged clean and shiny ready for our next stop. A 'primitive stop'.

Our campground at Brantley lake had no water no toilets, all the usual stuff. It did however have a lake and a stunning sunset so after dinner a walk through the pitch black of the New Mexico back roads and sangria (which I have discovered gets me paralytic) we all sat by the fire and chatted. We then went to the lake and sat listening to the fish jump around as the stars became very clear above our heads.
Its fair to say I hled my own but when in my drunken state I was falling asleep by the fire I gave in and went to bed.
Continuing a tradition we decided upon the night before we got up and watch the sun rise from a randomly placed children's playground that we found. Breakfast was later served and we drove through the New Mexico desert to Wallmart (which by the way sells guns for $200) and after stopping there we headed on out to Carlsbad Caverns this huge underground cave filled with stalactites and stalagmites and when I say huge I mean huge like 4 football pitches huge. So we walk down a very steep path which switches back several hundred times into this cavern which made me feel like I'm in the Goonies. It was all dimly lit and we found an old wire ladder hanging down into a pitch black cave. It was really cool and after exploring the cave for a few hours we went up and looked out over the desert before going back to the cavern to see 250,000 bats fly out of there and into the dusk. It was the coolest thing. They all flew out right by our heads and right past us. There was so many of them as they disappeared they looked like a bunch of leaves being blown around. A very very cool experience!

Drove outta there over night to reach Canyon De Chelly the next morning which turned out to be interesting.
It was arranged for us to have Navajo guides to walk us through the canyon, so after this was done and a quick look around the Navajo museum in the visitors center we drove to the trail head and began our walk. Now this hike was 'intereseting' te guids made the hike down sound easy 'people bring their sheep down here' Great! No paths just very steep cliffs that with my broken toe and walking down sucked ass in a big way. I was in a agony, people freaked out, a few people slipped over. A lot of people (me included) had to crawl down parts of it on our ass because to walk down just wasn't happening! It was an incredible walk however to see the canyon below us and the view over it was simply magnificent however as we reached the bottom we were all very pleased to relaise the easy part would start. Or so we thought. Thick loose snad, 100 degrees plus. Very little shade. Aside from that the 3 hour hike thourgh the canyon was incredible. Navajo people still live down there like their ancestors from thousands of years ago. Because of this old dwellings are still visible n the cliffsides along with some old native American paintings on the wall of the canyone. It was super cool to see all of this although by the end the dream of and ice cold coke was becoming a desperate need. The steep climb back up finished us all off and everyone slumped on the floor in the shade of the bus, our prayers were answered and we went ot a gas station, much coke and ice cream was brought and on we rolled.
Now as we drove to our campsite my driver came and said "So aside from the badlands, which I know you loved, where has been your favourite camping spot?" I'm sat wracking my head of all the places we've slept trying to decide when he grins and I look out of the window to see this massive drop into a stunning canyon with the san juan river flowing a few thousand feet below us. And our campground for that night ws straight in at joint first place. It was absolutely mindblowing. We all sat on the edge, our feet dangling off, just watching the river below. We sat there until it began to get dark and after ducking out of any dinner making duties I disappeared off to the edge of the canyon to sit and watch the sunset and the sandstone canyon become a very dark place. Dinner was good, sangria was better and it was after a campfire, early to bed for me.
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