Off To The Caldera

So many choices, so many things we wanted to show off. We decided on hiking at possibly our favorite sight around here, the Valles Caldera, something we haven't had a chance to do since moving.

Headed out in the late morning, stopped off in Los Alamos to get some subs, and continued on to the trailhead. One of my favorite things to do — it's how Steffen and I first came upon Valles Caldera (I'm pretty sure it was the Valles Grande then), years ago — is to take the twisty turny drive up the Jemez mountains, west of Los Alamos, after you make it through all the switchbacks, you turn a corner, and the pine forest opens up to the most amazing vista, the open green just shocking you.

On our trip out last September, we spent a confusing day trying to, and finally actually, hiking on some of the trails on the outside of the Valles Caldera (during elk hunting season, for a little extra excitement). But we found the trailhead for a nice little hike that takes you from the forest, down to the edge of the caldera. It's a mile down, a couple hundred foot elevation change (easy down, a little tougher back up) through the pine forest. A pretty stroll, even before you get to the end. So nobody really knew what we were taking them to, until we got around that last corner, and saw:

There's rocks to sit on, trees to sit under, so we stopped for lunch. A few of us took off to walk down more into the caldera and to the fence that is the actual boundary. Paul strolled through the field:

and Kelly conquered the big rock:

Trish found part of an elk horn, most likely from the elk herd that lives in the caldera.

Mostly, we just kind of hung out around the bottom of the hill, enjoying the sun and the breeze.

(OK, left to right, that's Jodie, Julie, John, Trish with Audrey, Kelly, Tess, and Paul)

Little Audrey was a real trouper through all this; though she needed to be carried every so often, seemed to love being outside, wandering around with her family.

We stopped at Baskin-Robbins in Los Alamos for a little snack to get us home. We headed back to our respective places, made ourselves presentable again, and met up at Il Vicino on Guadalupe (where they took really good care of us) to finish off the day.

1 comment:

Paul said...

The Caldera is really something to see! The drive up to Los Alamos was beautiful, and the switchbacks on the way to the trailhead kept it interesting for everyone.

Audrey had a wonderful time, hiking on the trail and finding all kinds of rocks along the way. We learned that "leaves of three make great TP" but we should avoid the poison ivy anyway.

We ate our sandwiches and had some fruit snacks at the Caldera, wandered around a bit, then reversed course back to the truck. Audrey fell asleep before we got halfway down the mountain to Los Alamos and stayed down until we reached Santa Fe again.

Again, a stellar day in New Mexico.