Monday, May 27, 2013

Sat, 18May - The Badlands

Left Ghost Ranch late this morning after another wonderful meal.  Didn't get far.  I hide my pack behind some trees and headed off on a side hike.  Perhaps some mice or a bear will lighten my pack while I'm gone?  I climbed up the 4.5 mile side trail to Kitchen Mesa.  What a fantastic hike!  First you climb up into this canyon with views of the bright reds and browns of sandstone.  Then it feels like you are trapped in a box canyon.  Just as you come to the end you start climbing right up the canyon wall over rocks and boulders.  At one point you need to use a rope to get up a slot in the rocks.  Great views all the way up and even better views on the miles of trail on top of the Mesa.  Lots of fun exploring the top which loops around and you are right above Ghost Ranch with views of Chimney Rock and O'Keeffe's famous mountain views.

Next, another side hike up the Ghost Ranch Box Canyon.  This side hike follows a stream/spring right up the canyon with a great view of an Eagles Nest on the canyon wall.  Lots of boulders and even another rope to help you climb over a huge rock slab.  Then the trail just ends at a solid rock wall.  You can see the water dropping from the wall and starting the headwaters of the stream.  Very pretty spot.

Heading back to the beginning of the box canyon I got back to work hiking the CDT.  This section, called the Badlands, included a steep climb up the rim of the canyons with many excellent views of the  sandstone walls.  Somewhere along the way I put my poles down near a cactus.  For the next few hours I kept getting little thorns from the cactus on my hands until I realized they where imbedded in my pole handles.

At the top of the canyon there were some confusing directions that required some bush whacking and serious route finding but it was kind of fun.  Made a couple rock cairns at a spot where I missed a turn and had to backtrack.  

The sky turned dark and it looked like a thunder storm was coming so i put my camera away in a zip lock bag. Of course right around the bend i came across a meadow with dozens of elk.  Watched for a while but as soon as i tried to get my camera they scattered to the wind. Only 14 miles forward progress but some great side hikes today.

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