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Kasha-Katuwe Tent Rocks


These Rocks Were In(Tents)

John McKinney

Our first major outing was to the Kasha-Katuwe Tent Rocks National Monument (say that 5x fast). Kasha-Katuwe is a slot canyon to the west of Santa Fe. I highly recommend it, it provided beautiful vistas as well as my first slot canyon experience.

Onward & Upward

As we walked toward the entrance to the canyon, the walls became more ominous, they towered overhead reminding us how small we were in comparison. Weaving our way through the canyon we came to a point where you had to crouch walk under a large boulder. This boulder, easily large enough to crush us, had become firmly lodged between two sides of the canyon. At points, the slot canyon floor was so narrow that my foot couldn’t step flat. I may have big feet but that’s still really narrow.

We twisted and turned our way through the trail until it reached a point where it turned upward. We’d be hiking up switchbacks from here to the top. Each turn yielded more and more incredible views. Higher and higher we went, stopping when we first reached above the tent rocks to stare out at the first glimpses of the horizon, then further up we went. We could just make out mountains peeking out from the horizon behind one of the canyon walls. Glimpsing at what was to come pushed us to climb a little faster.

Dat View Doe

Eventually, we reached the crest of the canyon, it was a relatively easy climb with safe pathways and railroad ties placed where areas would be more difficult. Being inside the slot canyon was interesting, but rising onto the plateau on top of the canyon wall was breathtaking. Being high above the slot canyon we could see out for what felt like forever. In nearly every direction we could see mountains in the distance, their peaks surging skyward out of the ground. Red and orange, yellow and tan, light and dark green were painted on the landscape. The small dark green shrubs decorated the Earth below, creating a view similar to that of polka dots.

Glancing downward into the canyon, I saw tent rocks, structures that had before stood as imposing figures high above, now were below our feet. Further down, we saw people making in and out of the canyon. The view left me speechless which, if you’ve ever met me, know that is definitely not something that happens to me often.

Eventually, it was time to make our trek down, which the realization was met with bemoaning by my wife and I. We scurried back to the end of the vista for one last look at the vast New Mexico horizon and began to make our trek down. As we descended the mountains sank behind the canyon. Reaching the trailhead my wife spun her head around to the top of the canyon and remarked, “Can you believe we were just at the top of that?!” This had become customary for her to say that after climbing anything. After hearing that, the hike reached its satisfying end.

“Red and orange, yellow and tan, light and dark green were painted on the landscape.”

The Hike On Route 66

My wife and I took a hike that afternoon near the house before dinner. A number of beautiful trails began right near our backyard. Though we had seen a number of rabbits and even a bobcat, we decided to head out for a hike. After walking along the path for a short while we came across two massive boulders next to each other. We, of course, decided to climb them. There was a thick, spiky brush along the bottom of the boulders. We followed the outside along and found an area we could climb up that didn’t have thorns and hoisted ourselves up. While the view on top of the boulder was no better than what we had on the ground, it was still a lot of fun.

We climbed down from the boulder and continued on. The trail forked and we did what we usually do, we chose the more rugged path. We followed the path along as best we could but it was overgrown with cacti in areas and was difficult to traverse. There were numerous turns where it was difficult to see how the path continued. After a short while, we decided it more prudent to turn back and take the other trail at the original fork.

This trail, while more defined and less overgrown, carried its own set of dangers. At one point, the trail sloped sharply and it caused my pace to quicken almost into a jog. Treading down the path, I had to stop myself just short of a large, chest high cactus that was ready to impale me. From the crest we stopped at, we gazed out across the valley. The late-afternoon Sun showered the mountains and valley with warm, golden rays.

Knowing it would begin getting dark soon, we made our way down the trail and headed back to the house. This day had come to a close and it was time for dinner. Plus, there was a bobcat out there somewhere and we didn’t want him to think we were his dinner.

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