Wednesday, September 19, 2012

El Morro & El Malpais National Monuments, New Mexico

We are in Grants, New Mexico for 4 days.  We arrived here after getting our hot water heater repaired on Tuesday morning at Traveltown RV in Sante Fe.
El Morro (The Headlands) is a huge stone monolith that rises out of the desert.  This large rock formation was on one of the wagon trail routes the pioneers used when heading west.  On the stone walls, passerby's made petroglyphs by carving their names and the date in the rock.  Some left messages for us to read.  One interesting message was left by the first Spanish Governor assigned by Spain's King to oversee this Spanish colony.  He left his name and message in 1605, 15 years before the Pilgrims landed  in Massachusetts.  Many Spainards wrote "Paso por aqui" which means "passed this way" followed by their name and date. There are also some petroglyphs left by native Indians from 1000-1500 years ago.  There is a small pond there, made from rain and snow melt.  It lasts the entire spring, summer, and fall.  We did not see any animals here, except a snake, but did see elk and deer tracks. We walked the 1.5 mile loop trail to see El Morro and the petroglyphs.


Approaching El Morro
Debbie reading some of the writings

Most of the carvings were 1850-1880

Petroglyphs left by the ancient Indians 1000-1500 years ago
carvings of big horn sheep

Capt. R.H. Orton, 1st California Calvary, 1866
Run, Debbie, Run!
After El Morro we drove to El Malpais (Bad Land) National Monument and took a long trail to the top of Bandera Caldera, the top of a cinder cone volcano. It was hot, in the upper 80's.  It was a long, about a mile, all uphill trail that was quite rewarding.  We huffed and puffed all the way up, taking lots of breaks, but we made it.

We are headed to the top of that cinder cone
One of the many places we rested on the way up

A vent, half way up, spouted out hot lava
Almost there

A lava field
                                                                           We made it to the top (click to see)

Afterwards we took a half mile trail to an ice cave.  I was hot, in the upper 80's.  Once we got there it was 70 steps down to a cave with a year round temperature of 31 degrees. (you'll notice that we have our jackets on)  The water in the cave was frozen solid and there was a layer of what is called "arctic algae" on the ice.  Then 70 steps back up and the trail to the parking area.  We got a good cardio workout today!

The opening to the ice cave (the stairs are down below)
Debbie resting half way down the 70 stairs
See the green arctic algae on the frozen ice
A frozen waterfall
The view looking up out of the cave
Okay, it's time to get back up the stairs and back on the trail!

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