Return to Kasha-Katuwe Tent Rocks National Monument

Monday, April 3
We arrived in Albuquerque on Friday ahead of yet another spring storm. This one promised cold rain, wind, and snow at slightly higher elevations than Albuquerque. Mary’s longtime school friends, Cynthia and Jerry have a wonderful home in the hills near here and we were able to get together Saturday night for a fun evening of food drink and conversation.Sunday we made the move 20 miles north to Kasha-Katuwe Tent Rocks National Monument. The COE campground near the monument is a gem. Situated along the shore of Cochiti Lake, the camping fee is $20/night for water/electric, and a dump. The last time here four years ago, I wrote in my blog that we paid only $5/night with the Senior Pass, but this time we could find no mention of honoring passes and the camping fee was double last visits $10. The campground was far from full, but all the perimeter sites overlooking the lake and hills were taken. We still found a nice site with a good view of the lake and sky. We set up and enjoyed a cool evening sunset.Still worth the price – this will be a good place to wait out Tuesday’s cold, wet weather before moving up to Santa Fe. We still plan on trying the road to Chaco, but now will wait till Friday or Saturday. One last weather maker coming in on Tuesday is the cause. Beyond Tuesday, there seems to be 10 day period of no rain. It might be our chance.Morning was bright and beautiful, but cold. We huddled inside for a couple of hours. Being just 4 miles from the Tent Rocks trail we wanted to hike, meant we were still on the trail by 10 am. Earlier might have been better. This is one of the most heavily trafficked trails I’ve walked and there was steady streams of groups at a time, making photographing a little more difficult. It’s not just that people get in the way, it’s also me getting in their way. The slot canyon areas are very narrow in places, meaning one person at a time can walk through. Just one person can create a back-up. So picture making was hurried at times. I’m not going to recount the hike again here. Instead, go to my earlier trail description for that account. It’s virtually the same walk, but I’ve posted all new images here. I did find it interesting how my recollection of the place differed from my last visit. Instead of the warm-tone pale browns and buff colored volcanic ash, I remembered the formations being much lighter, almost white in color without much variation. Moving through the slots was as enjoyable as ever. Light was constantly changing with the increasing cloud cover and I managed to work around the groups coming and going along the trail.
I was taken once again with the wonderfully curving strata of the layers of ash. As the canyon opened up, wider views opened and new formations came into view.
The steepest section of trail winds through the most unusual of formations. From this higher vantage, the real beauty of the surroundings hills can be appreciated. I had to stop often to look. Instead of following the trail out onto a plateau, as virtually everyone else was doing, We branched off just before the highpoint and walked out to a different arm of the plateau. We had lunch here and enjoyed the lovely view. From this vantage, I could look down into the canyon to photograph the incredible walls.We spent an hour or so moving around the area, watching the light change as even more clouds began moving over us. We enjoyed the spot a little longer before making our way back down the cliff and through the slots. Once out of the canyon, we decided to take the Cave loop trail that runs along the plateau’s base. The cave was not real exciting, but views of surrounding areas was worthwhile.
We eventually came to another section of ash formations before we completed the hike. The wind was increasing and dust beginning to blow, so we did too.
Back in camp, we watched as heavy clouds increased. Waking around 2 am, I could hear light rain falling on the roof. It was supposed to stop by 2 pm Tuesday, but it lasted most of the day. Sometimes light rain, sometimes snow. We decided to stay put one more night.

Tomorrow we move up to Santa Fe.

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