After an unsucessful attempt to go to Nambé Falls/Lake on Saturday, we ended up at Tsankawi instead. The 1.5 mile trail winds up to the top of a mesa, where there are unexcavated ruins of a settlement built sometime in the 1400s.

Try to find Bram in this picture:

In many sections, the trail is worn down into the rock by quite a bit:

The hike was pretty easy, mostly level, except where the trail dropped (or climbed) between the 2 levels of the mesa. There, you could see the old "rock ladders" — hand- and toe-holds cut into the rock. To reduce wear on them (and because they were kinda scary), there were ladders to use instead:

About halfway, there were little caves to explore. Apparently, the Tsankawi people added on an additional structure at the front of each cave. All that's left now are smoke stains on the cave ceilings, and holes in the rock where the roof support beams were. Here's the view from one of them:

It was a really nice day and hike. Click on the panorama for a bigger version:


andy said...

Is that Bram checking his cell phone in the panaramic ?

monica said...

no, he was reading the little self-guided-tour-brochure-thingus.

AJ said...

How remote are these places you visit? I mean, it seems like (except for the carnival stuff) that you're in the middle of nowhere. Have vultures ever circled above you on these adventures?

Bram said...

Good question. Distances out here are different that what we get used to on the East Coast.

Tsankawi was about a 30-minute drive from our place; probably about 40+ miles, it's just on the edge of the mesa that defines Los Alamos. The drive is pretty much all highways/fast interstates once you make the turn off our road. That hike was just outside of White Rock (kind of a Los Alamos suburb) at the eastern reach of Bandelier National Monument. You just park on a dirt lot off the main road and enter. Though the view was absolutely amazing, you were pretty much seeing (and hearing) the highway and roads from up on the mesa. It's an easy hike, but a little underpublicized, and we were there late in the day, so we only saw a handful of people on the trail. But it certainly wasn't out in the middle of nowhere.

For reference, the trailhead at Bandelier is about 50-60 minutes away, and kind of off to the side of the route from White Rock to Los Alamos. There, you can forget you're so close to town, but it's really only about a 15-20 minute drive.

Ancho Rapids trailhead was just beyond Bandelier's entrance, but without the winding road to the ranger station, about the same amount of driving time. That hike took us out where, if we ran out of water and died, it'd be some time 'til we were found, though it was only a couple miles off the main road.

McCauley Hot Spring is way over on the other side of the Los Alamos mesa, probably more than a 90-minute drive (and more than 100 miles), on the major back road into Albuquerque. That route's pretty popular for local sightseers.

Up into the mountains is maybe only about 10-15 miles, but it took about 25-30 minutes to get there on the up and down winding roads.

Cochiti Pueblo is probably about at least an hour-and-a-quarter away. Not sure about the mileage, but at least 20-30 minutes is about 20 MPH on the bumpy dirt road to the park.

Our favorite caldera is heading off the Los Alamos mesa, and probably just over an hour to the easy trailhead down to the edge. To get further along and into the "visitor center" is about another 30 minutes, along the main road and then off into the dirt road.

Santa Fe isn't really that big. We're about 2 miles from the Plaza and the heart of downtown; the other end of town, out where I fence, is about 20 minutes and maybe 12 miles away (the traffic on Cerrillos is, relatively speaking, nasty). Either that way or the bypass, it's about 20 minutes to the highway that takes us to Albuquerque.

There. Have a better sense now?