I could sum up eight days of hiking, camping, and backpacking in Los Alamos a few different ways.
I could give a day by day narrative of all I’ve seen and done. Or a bullet point of all the places I saw, experienced and visited.
But, for me, that week is more about the feel of the experiences.
Again going back to a favorite place for backpacking and exploring the canyons and continue to follow the ancient ways.
Walking the canyons, admiring the beauty, and seeing what is around the next bend.
The feeling of getting to a revered shrine that still contains offerings from the modern descendants of these ancient people. A lonely place on a ridge surrounded by the volcanic landscape.
And the experience of negotiating the fire and flood-damaged canyons that continues to make for more of a backcountry experience.
And the experience is about going far into the backcountry and admiring, examining, and being in awe of a magnificent display of art and devotion similar to the Sistine Chapel, the Hagia Sophia, or the Boudhanath.
Here is a montage of the Painted Cave in #bandaliernationalmonument . I rarely do a series of photos on Insti due to the autocropping, but I’ll make an exception here. The Painted Cave is an amazing pictograph panel deep in the Bandelier backcountry. A twenty-mile r/t hike over some stiff terrain needs to be done to access the site. Shown are both post and pre Columbian #pictographs . The black pictographs are thought to be post #ancientpuebloan . Note the classic Zia Pueblo petroglyph that is the #newmexico state flag. I always wondered if the Star of David is related to the “crypto-Jews” recent studies related to New Mexico discuss. (Sephardic Jews who converted to Catholicism to avoid peresecution and then fled to the Spanish colonies. Some cultural traditions were kept is an assertion). The cave is still a place of pilgrimage for modern Puebloans and a place most can’t enter. And why I schlep a large camera! All in all a fascinating place that blends the outdoors, history, and deep cultural roots. #newmexicotrue #landofenchantment #landofentrapment #hiking #backpacking #camping
And the experience of continuing to see something explored previously but with a new route. Where I find the backcountry passion and the historical appreciation combined in one place. And see new ways to experience it all.
And then exploring the local places. Places to see and experience outside of the national park units. Places that add to the local quality of life. And make the area attractive for a possible future home.
And the experience is about what it is like to explore the local mountains outside of town. Local mountains where the trails are sparse and challenging. But are rewarding in the end.
And the week was about dispersed camping in the national forest above the town and exploring a nearby preserve.
We hiked in the old volcano caldera and enjoyed the center meadow with the rim view above and the wildlife within.
And then hiking above it all. Peering into the ancient crater and realizing how much it shaped the terrain.
And experiencing the town of Los Alamos itself. The local museums, a national park unit in the town itself, the fine food, and the local craft beer.
The experience of meeting the world’s friendliest police officer ever! An officer on bike patrol who obviously love the town, the community he serves, and exemplified the effectiveness of community policing with his enthusiasm and knowledge of the area.
And I remember the experience of catching up with friends who have made their home in Los Alamos. Enjoying their backyard in the ponderosa pines and hearing their positive views on where I am thinking of calling home.
I love northern New Mexico and continue to gravitate towards this place. A place that fills my needs and likes on many levels.
And lastly, a joy to spend a week with someone whose friendship has deepened over the months.
I am writing this post while sipping coffee in Boulder on a rainy and cold Sunday. I reconnected with my adopted family who means so much to me. And I will then leave in a few short days to visit my family back on the East Coast. Some recent family news means many changes are in store. The immediate family is moving up and down the East Coast for various reasons. Good news for everyone, but a bit of melancholy feeling, too. It may be my last visit to RI for a while.
I am not sure where my future will take me.
But after more time in New Mexico, I certainly know where I’d like to be in the near future.