Sunday, September 19, 2010

Ghost Ranch Hike to Chimney Rock - Abiquiu, NM

Hi all, Dianne here.  First, just a reminder that you can click on each photo to see an enlarged view.  These might be worth it!

Well, it's Sunday, and I'm watching the weekenders pack up and leave the Abiquiu Reservoir campground in droves.  We're here for two more nights.  Roger is hiking the Box Canyon hike at Ghost Ranch.  I'll explain why I'm not accompanying him later in this blog.  (I actually have one leg elevated and iced as I write this!)  

While he's gone, my assignment is to write about the amazing hike the two of us, plus the boys, took to Chimney Rock, also at Ghost Ranch, on Friday.  

We've had a distant view of the colorful bluffs at nearby Ghost Ranch from our camp site at Abiquiu Reservoir for the past 8 days.  Ghost Ranch is only about four miles away, in the middle of the bluffs.  Georgia O'Keeffe visited there in 1929, then maintained a casita at the ranch because of the amazing vistas in this remote high desert area of Northern New Mexico.  Many of her paintings include views from here.  As you see from our amateur photos, it's easy to understand why an artist would be drawn here.  Many artists still are.  I think it's impossible to take a bad photo here.  
My first inkling that this was going to be a special day was on the short drive from our campground over to the trail head.  All I can say is "Wow!"  We turned onto the ranch property and followed a long, bumpy, dirt/gravel road to the conference center.  Ghost Ranch was once a dude ranch (1920s and 1930s).  In the 1950s it was donated to the Presbyterian Church, which now maintains it as a busy conference center.  

There is no charge to visit the ranch for day hikes; you simply check in at the visitor center.  After completing this hike, we understand why they ask hikers to sign in:  There are steep, rocky climbs with sharp drop-offs.  The sun is unrelenting (no shade at all).  This is, of course, high desert and is also rattlesnake country.  Luckily we didn't see any wildlife at all, other than a soaring hawk and some squawking ravens, who were not pleased with us and our four-legged friends invading their space.  

I can tell you, that had we not brought along ample water for both us and the dogs, we might have been in trouble.  Should you take this hike, be sure to also wear sturdy shoes or boots with a good grip and don't be like me, wear a hat!  

We took so many photos, each one a "keeper," that it would be impossible to include them all in this blog. 

Here's a shot of a tiny cairn in a hole in a rock: 

  If you have time and want to see all 87 photos, here's a link to my photobucket album of our hike:

If you follow this link, there should be a red button on the top right corner of the page that says "Slideshow."  Click on that, and the photos will follow automatically. 
Roger wore his cowboy hat.  I should have worn mine, but I am on a quest to lighten my hair naturally since I no longer color it.  I colored my hair blonde from the time I was 16 until we hit the road in 2008.  When we left the gloomy midwest, I realized that the sun does a better job of it, and I no longer have to worry about root touch-ups.  I plan to enjoy this until the gray overtakes the blonde.  This vanity on my part resulted in a sunburned neck; I guess I had it coming.  Folks wear cowboy hats in the west for a reason.

The elevation on this hike rises 600 feet.  There are rocky uphill scrambles along the way, and twisty switchbacks with the aforementioned drop-offs.  The views were worth every minute of it!  I have finally acclimated to the altitude, so this hike seemed much easier to me than the one at Taos.  However, if you look closely in this photo, there is a large bruise forming on the back of one leg, above the knee.  At this point I didn't even know it was there, but I started having pain as we came back down the mountain.  Turns out, I have hurt my hamstring muscle, enough to cause the large bruise.  I'm taking it easy for a few days and it already feels better, although there's still a knot in the muscle the size of a large marble.  Getting old is not for sissys!

At the beginning of the hike, Chimney Rock was just an unmistakable landmark in the distance. 
 We climbed higher and higher.  Finally the hike ends on the mesa behind Chimney Rock, and affords a close-up view of the back of Chimney Rock, as well as panoramic views of the Piedra Lumbre Basin below.  
We took turns climbing across a slot drop-off to a rock giving the best views.  

By this time, the dogs were done in.  We found a small  patch of shade and let them rest for a while and rehydrate (us, too.)   Once we had recuperated, we made our way carefully down the rocky, sometimes loose gravel, trail.

Relaxing in our recliners, we did a little sky watching as we rested our legs.  This cloud reminded me of Roger doing one of his standing-on-a-rock poses!  

Another photo-worthy sunset ended a memorable day in a place we'll never forget!  


Nancy and Bill said...


Thanks for the great hike and beautiful pictures... We will file this away and hopefully get to see it in person someday. In the mean time, keep up the good work taking us all over the place!!

Take care of that leg so you can get back out there.

Safe travels and Happy Trails...

Gin and Syl said...

Some very beautiful photos. Thanks for sharing.


Margie and Roger said...

Really enjoyed the rock photos. Wow! I spotted that bruise on your leg without even enlarging the photo. Hope that feels better soon. Yep, we sure loved not having dew when we were out west. Back here in Florida everything is soaking wet each morning.

budget accommodation said...

Beautiful pictures...I found your blog by chance, but I loved it! I want to tour my country like that on a motorhome!!