Thursday, March 17, 2011

Bandelier National Monument-Falls Trail

On my third and fourth visits to Bandelier, I got to do two things I've been wanting to do for awhile: visit the two waterfalls on lower Frijoles Creek and fish for trout in the cool forested canyon of the upper reaches of that same stream. The hike down to the falls and then to Rio Grande is a true New Mexico classic. I can't imagine a walk in heaven would make me any happier.Starting off in pine forest, the trail down gradually winds it's way through the narrow valley cut by this small stream. Passing by ( but without seeing at first) the upper falls,there is an abrupt change in vegetation. Large specimens of Mormon Tea border the trail which is now incised into the cliff as it switchbacks down to the stream. Once on the bottom, a true desert riparian garden is encountered with ash,cottonwood, and willow( I know it was still winter,but I was using my imagination).There is an absolute quiet upon reaching the river, while I stop to admire the redrock cliffs and the aprons of sometimes huge basaltic boulders that decorate the hillsides. The river is green,opaque and cold as it flows noiselessly on.Backup at the visitor center, I tuck in to large order of well deserved french fries from the cafe. Wonderful afternoon. IMPORTANT UPDATE:Bandelier has been hit severely by fire and flooding over the last 3 years. The landscape I hiked in may vastly altered

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