Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Ghost Ranch Visit

September 12, 2012
On top of Chimney Rock overlook
     I will write as I listen to the rain descend on the ranch canyon.  It is around 10am, we got back from our hike a half hour ago - much of it hiked in a scant drizzle and in gray stormy clouds.  Much cooler hike with this weather, but not the blue skies, puffy clouds I had hoped for in my pictures of the rock colors!  Since we aren't in a hurry to leave, we shall wait this rain storm out before going out to unhook all the electric, water, etc.  We do have the trailer bed all folded up and ready to go and we never unhitched, so it is just the hook-ups!  
     We left a little before 8am to take the 3 mile round trip hike up to a viewpoint overlooking Chimney Rock.  This is the area where earlier in August a couple of accidents occurred, and at least one death.  We are reminded to "stay on the trail" - my guess is the victim might have been rock hopping where he/she shouldn't have been.  Either way, an unfortunate accident.  
Ghost Ranch complex in distance below cliffs
     Trail climbs gradually up the piedmont - rock slopes at the base of mountains - and through several areas of rock landslides.  The canyon walls are receding rapidly (in geological time frames) from the Chama River.  In fact, I read where a NEW chimney had formed 8 years ago just north of the main Chimney Rock, when a landslide occurred.  
Side canyon colors
     We went to the back of the ridge overlooking the rock and found a side canyon covered with fins, hoodoos, and brightly colored swirling layered walls.  Pretty neat.  Lots of pinon pine (dying due to beetle), juniper, yucca, cholla cactus, prickly pear, and the shrub with the yellow flowers that I am still trying to identify.  Picked up a trail guide with identifiers at the beginning, but it didn't identify anything other than cactus plants - and lots of geological stuff that only Mark Ferns would understand!  
     Rick's knees are bothering him somewhat from all the downhill hiking, so the 1.5 miles of down was all he wanted.  He figures a couple weeks of good rest will help.  
Chimney Rock from early section of trail - we were on the ridge to the right.  
Click HERE for more Chimney Rock pictures.  

Ghost Ranch to Edgewood, NM
September 12, 2012      Rest of day spent in driving from Ghost Ranch down to Edgewood, New Mexico (through Santa Fe and down Hw y285 to I-40 and west to Edgewood - a new route that we hope won't have so many hills on it!)  Randy is taking the day off and picking up Rick's Mom to bring her out to his place until the end of the weekend.  We need to sit down with Mom and plan out a few activities for the next two weeks, but also alot of rest time and visiting time!
     Arrived at Rands around 1:30 in a rain storm which lasted for awhile so we couldn't put the trailer into place.  Rand had a whole pad set up for Rick's folks and their motorhome.  Unfortunately it drives straight in and a trailer is pulled, so backing the trailer in put all the hookups on the wrong side.  We ended up pulling the trailer partway, unhitching, and then pushing the trailer the rest of the way in.  It wasn't pretty, but we got it done.  Hope we can reverse the process in two weeks when we want to leave!  
    Skyped with the PARTY committee back in Baker City during the evening.  Not a great connection so we cut the video, and it was difficult to make out all the conversation, but at least I felt a connection with everyone!  Go FPC!  

Pagosa Springs to Ghost Ranch, Abiquiu, New Mexico
September 11, 2012
96 miles 

Click HERE for all of today's pictures
Continental Divide between Chromo, CO and Chama, NM
      Today we finally leave Pagosa Springs and Elk Meadows RV Resort.  It has been a great place, and we both agreed that we probably won't see bathrooms as clean and efficient as those again for years!    We get packed up and ready to roll by 9:45 am.  South on Hwy 84 toward Chromo (the only other 'major' town in Archuleta County and right near the NM border) and then over the Continental Divide (once again!) to Chama.  The divide here was a sign at the rise of a hill in the middle of a broad big valley!  No Wolf Creek Pass this time!  (And only 7,277')  You could see the peaks of the Continental Divide mountains west of Chromo as we approached however. 
Echo Canyon Amphitheater
Awesome colors in the rocks! 
     Just before we arrive at the Ghost Ranch turn-off, we pull over to Echo Canyon Amphitheater - a Forest Service site marked on the NM map.  We didn't know what it would be.  Very cool spot where a huge bowl has been shaped by wind with a dark red stain where water has dripped (Rick thought it looked like blood!)  We walked to the end of the path into the ampitheater and the echo was pretty immediate.  I liked stomping my feet and hearing the echo!  The strata colors were stunning - layers of yellow, white, and red, with deep greens from the monsoon rains and flowering yellows.  Just enough clouds in the sky to provide a contrast to the deep blue.  
Cliffs above Ghost Ranch
     Ghost Ranch sits about a mile off the main highway, at the entrance to a side canyon.  The original structure was built in the late 1800's by the Archuleta brothers (same as the county we just left!) who were known as cattle rustlers.  The haunted legend of the ranch began when the brothers would hang dummies from the cottonwood trees to scare away potential posse's looking for cattle.  We toured their first home after getting settled in.  
View from Karesansui Zen Garden. 
     A stop at the Welcome Center to reserve a campsite with full hookups for the night.  There is no longer a campground host, so we have the pick of whatever site we want.  Fairly primitive accommodations in the wash of the canyon amidst shrubs, oaks, cholla cactus and a prickly pear here and there!  The sky is threatening a storm, but throughout the afternoon we simply get a drop of rain on occasion and sudden winds that blow hard and then die out.  
     Lunch and then a stroll of the conference area.  We go up on top of the mesa for views down, and then check out the library, dining hall, worship center, the Ghost House, and walk along the Art Trail to the Karesansui Garden and the Labyrinth.  We checked out the casita housing and the art center.  A trail to a box canyon leads off from there, but an aggressive mama bear and cubs has been residing there lately.  We won't take that trail!  
Labyrinth at Ghost Ranch
     Rick headed back to the library while I spent some time at the labyrinth.  Right after I got started...in solitude, a crowd of about 5 other people came in.  They were a little loud, so when I got to the center I just stayed there until they were completely done.  You certainly couldn't knock the view from the labyrinth!  I rejoined Rick and then walked down to the Trading Post Store to check out what they had.  We hiked back up to the top of the mesa and down to the trailer, figuring we had seen most of the campus.  We plan to hike up to Chimney Rock in the morning when it is cooler.  We don't have to leave until noon, so plenty of time for a 3 mile hike.  
     Spaghetti dinner and a relaxing evening as shadows come and the skies darken in the canyon. 
     This afternoon when we arrived a group was also forming for one of the Georgia O'Keefe tours.  O'Keefe painted here for years - she is said to have painted the flat topped Cerro Pedernal across the valley (a mountain) often because God said she could have it if she painted it enough!  The rocks do seem to change colors with the wind and the sun.  I am looking forward to our hike in the morning in the early sunlight!  
Ghost Ranch vistas. 

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