Thursday, October 10, 2013
Kitchen Mesa Hike at Ghost Ranch (New Mexico)
Hike: Kitchen Mesa
Hike Difficulty: Moderate to Difficult
(Most of the trail isn't hard, but there are parts that require careful footing and rock scrambling.)
Hike Distance (Round Trip): 4 1/2 - 5 miles
Time (Round Trip): 3 - 4 hours
Elevation: 6500 feet to 7077 feet
A couple of weeks ago, Allyson and I took a long weekend trip to Durango, Colorado from Santa Fe. On the way there and back, we drove past Ghost Ranch and knew we had to come back for some hiking. We drove back through on this trip right before sunset when the rock colors were even more magnificent than they are at other times of the day. We decided to make a trip back to Ghost Ranch on an afternoon after work, in hopes of enjoying an incredible sunset.
In preparation, the day before, Allyson and I visited the Georgia O'Keeffe museum in Santa Fe. She spent a lot of her time at Ghost Ranch, hiking and painting. This woman was enchanted by New Mexico, and I totally understand why.
Ghost Ranch is located off Highway 84, about 10 miles past the Trujillos Store and gas station. (We stopped here to buy some Monk's Ale, brewed by monks at the Monastery of Christ in the Desert in Abiquiu.) The entrance to Ghost Ranch is on the right hand side of Highway 84 and marked by a large wooden sign over the driveway. The trail head is all the way at the back of the property. We just followed signs for Kitchen Mesa and parked right by the trailhead and the Long House.
I highly recommend purchasing the "Day Hikes in the Santa Fe Area" book by the New Mexico Group of the Sierra Club. They provide very specific details about this hike. The whole hike is marked by old "coffee cans" painted green or white; however, it still got a bit confusing once we climbed up the slot. I don't plan to provide specific enough details here to get someone through the hike.
Walking along the floor of this valley was easy, enjoyable, and breathtaking. High rock walls all around us. Many times, I just had to stop and do a 360 degree turn to take it all in.
This section of the hike was a little tricky. I can imagine this would be really dangerous if it was wet. The dirt was very loose and the ledge is very steep (you can't really tell that here).
The slot. You can see one of the coffee cans I mentioned at the lower left corner of the photo. At any point of the hike, if we felt confused about where to go, I just looked around for a can. All but once, I found one quickly.
At the top of Kitchen Mesa. There was no one else up there, so it was pretty incredible to be up at the top with this view and have the only sound be the wind. I wish we could've stayed up here to eat our dinner, but we were worried about climbing back down the slot and the tricky part right after it in the dark. We still took some time to just take in the views.
Georgia O'Keeffe's Pedernal
I like how the background of this photograph looks like a painting. Or maybe I've just been viewing too many Georgia O'Keeffe paintings this week!
We were just up on top of that!
Ghost Ranch is an education and retreat center. When we drove in this afternoon, several painters were out painting in this lawn. As we drove out, people were out on picnic tables eating dinner watching the sunset. Seems like a very peaceful and lovely place to attend a retreat or workshop.
Other hiking options at Ghost Ranch can be found at their website. I am starting to get really bummed that we will be leaving Santa Fe soon. Allyson's clinical rotation is coming to an end and we will be heading back to North Carolina. I'm hoping we get a second fall colors display when we head back east!