In search of a dry hike, we decided on our trip this summer to head to the Abiquiu, NM area to hike the Chavez Canyon trail. After a circuitous journey, we park our car and begin to walk, we hope in the right direction, down the trail. We are relieved to see two other cars in the parking area.
Rather than seeing the Canyon, however, it is clear we have come upon the Christ in the Desert Monastery. Always in the lead, Ryan heads to the door to ask for directions and by the time we arrive, he is engaged in conversation with a monk with the calmest, most serene presence I have ever experienced. It was almost palpable.
Suddenly, it makes sense why the group would be located in this remote, yet peaceful place. Apparently they offer retreats at this location where the rest of us can absorb some of this calm and peace as well. It is tempting, but we are soon off in the correct direction. In talking with the monk, we discover we have walked about a half mile in the wrong direction and must now retrace our steps, and, once we reach our car, drive back down the road and park in the correct parking area.
Finally on the right trail, we begin our journey at about 12:30, still watching the skies for clouds, needing to make a quick escape should a rainstorm develop. We will also have to watch the time as we are scheduled to meet a friend at 4 pm back in Taos and, due to the fact that we were only able to drive 15 miles an hour for the 12 miles on the way in, it has taken us longer than we anticipated to reach the starting point for our three mile round trip hike.
The first mile is rather uneventful. The terrain is beautiful in its simplicity, a stark contrast to the rainy forested mountain hike we experienced just the day before. The red canyons begin to rise majestically on our sides and eventually we come to the first slot canyon. We each slip down the rocks and up the canyon, successfully transiting our first challenge. We continue on, taking a few pictures. The kids are even tolerant of being asked to pose for a few shots, I think because the terrain is so beautiful and unusual; very different than anyplace we have hiked before.
At this point Terry discovers he has lost his sunglasses along the route and heads back to look for them as the kids and I push on. By the time we reach the second canyon, we are beginning to watch the time as we will need at least 90 minutes to get to our meeting place when we are through, so we will need to turn back soon.
The second canyon proves much more challenging. Ryan struggles to traverse it, and with a bit of difficulty, succeeds in climbing to the top. We snap a few pictures of him sitting up at the top, then decide the time has come to turn back. Meghan and I are a bit relieved, not sure how we would have negotiated the canyon. Even Ryan admits, it was quite a struggle for him to navigate. As we are headed back, we are again rejoined by Terry and the four of us hike back over the beautiful, stark terrain to our vehicle. While our dogs accompanied us out west and on the hike the previous day, we did not bring them on this hike as we were unsure of the conditions and whether they would have been able to climb the canyons. It was a good decision to leave them back at the camper.
We re-negotiate the rutted road relieved that there is nary a cloud in the sky. It takes us over an hour to traverse the road and reach the state highway that will take us to Taos. We reach our meeting point with a few minutes to spare, but with pleasant memories and beautiful pictures of a challenging hike.
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