Tuesday, February 18, 2014
Kasha Katuwe, Tent Rocks National Mounument
We headed off as part of what almost amounted to a long line of marchers walking out on the slot canyon trail. There were many families with many children( some walking, some carried), folks with expensive outdoor clothes and shoes, others in their everyday duds,couples of all ages, and even a few Euro- tourists( we heard both Italian and French being spoken). It was like a trip to the mall, my wife would comment. When we got the narrowest part of the slot canyon, we began meeting the long line of people that had been to the top and were now coming back. In several spots we had to either back up or press against the canyon wall and wait for people to pass. We saw more people in one day here hiking than we had seen in the whole year of hiking,perhaps more than in a couple of years. We're a little spoiled down here in southern New Mexico, because it's been so easy to avoid the crowds for the most of 15 years we've lived here. And even when we've done the many hikes that we have in Northern New Mexico, we've managed to avoid a crazy scene like this one. On our return hike the people just kept coming, we wandered over onto the Cave Trail ( which is a loop) which helped end our trip on a more tranquil note, although we could still see and hear the crowds on the Canyon Trail.
Still this is beautiful spot. I probably would have thought it was even spectacular, if I had been able to experience it bit more peacefully. I'm not trying to discourage anyone from visiting. By all means, go. For myself, if I were to visit again, I would not go on the Saturday of a three day holiday weekend, which also happened to coincide with Valentine's Day and some unseasonably warm winter weather, or any other holiday weekend for that matter, or any other Saturday, or Sunday, or any other time when the admission was free, a happy coincidence especially for the groups( and they were several that had 5, 6, 7 or more people). Of course if all these people had to pay fees-there would have been a line stretching back the several miles to Cochiti Dam. I can't say it wasn't enjoyable,but it was very strange for us. Note: despite its obvious popularity, and seemingly casual aspect of the clientele that use it, I would consider this trail more or less primitive with only a few quickly deteriorating improvements toward the very top. I'm sure when it's wet, it can be downright treacherous.