Water in the desert. It’s a huge factor, and not in the way you’d think. Water shaped the desert landscape, even though you might think there’s none there. The canyons and caverns of the American West were formed by water. I heard a very enthusiastic Death Valley National Park ranger named Jay Snow expound on this amazing fact. He was right. Death Valley is all about water. So is the Grand Canyon and Carlsbad Caverns and all those other iconic desert places. Many of them were once part of a vast inland sea, believe it or not. Water is ancient and powerful and wild. When we’re not tampering with it, that is. (and that’s a huge topic for another post on my ‘In Wilderness…’ page)
I wish I’d taken my camera up to Alcove House at Bandelier National Monument. I did not. But those ladders were thrilling! Here’s a shot from tripadvisor.com:
The descent is about 140 feet. Not bad. Another favorite spot is Holy Hill in Wisconsin. There are 178 steps in the tower.
Hiking in New Mexico and Texas this month led us down into some beautiful canyons: Mills Canyon (1000 ft. elevation change)…
…the Frey Trail down to the Visitor’s Center at Bandelier (484 ft. elevation change)…
…and our favorite, the ‘strenuous’ 1500 ft. Lost Peak trail that gave us views down into Dog Canyon and to our riparian campground on the other side.
Of course, in hiking, what goes down frequently also comes up. Steve turns 50 tomorrow, so we’re working on keeping our knees in shape! Which way is more difficult depends…he beats me uphill, I beat him downhill. (‘Course, he’s 6’2″ and I’m just 5’4″ and we’re weighted differently because of gender…and because I carry a pack and he doesn’t.)
May all your ‘down days’ include scenery like this!