Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Hiking the Petroglyph National Monument

August 2015
Kessel Runner New MexicoLast week I was in Albuquerque, New Mexico, at a meeting for my day job.  And, as always, I try to make travel a Work-cation and find fun, outdoor, fitness adventures to do that families might be interested in as well.  My rules of Work-cations are easy:

1. Plan before you go: Talk to friends and family that have gone to your travel area, and google hiking and running in the area.  Look for any recreation trails, or National Parks.  I'm partial to anything managed by the National Park Service because I know that it will be safe, well maintained and family friendly!

2. Realize that you aren't on a real vacation and will have a limited time-frame and daylight to adventure.

3. Pack the appropriate gear, cameras, etc.

I had actually heard from a co-worker to look up the Petroglyph National Monument.  And I was very happy I did!   The Monument was perfect fit for me:  I love mixing history, nature, and learning something along the way!

The Monument has several trail areas to choose from with over 20,000 petroglyphs carved by Native Americans.  I decided to chose the Piedras Marcadas Canyon in the northernmost area of the Monument because it seemed the most rugged.

The canyon had small sandy trails to guide you and lots off-shoots from the main trail to explore. 

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As you got deep into the canyon you found yourself surrounded by black-eyed susans as far as the eye could see and some over 5 feet tall!

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I loved seeing the many different flowers along the paths and hearing all the busy honeybees and bubleblees!  They were actually quite loud!

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And I did manage to see a beautiful bird (which I think is a Say's Phoebe), a whiptail lizard and some ferocious fire ants.   
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But the main attraction of this park are the large basalt rocks and the petroglyphs.

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The Pueblo peoples of the area were the main contributors to the petroglyphs.   The actual process to create them took a very long time, so they were thoughtfully put in place - not just random drawings.

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I was definitely intrigued and moved by the sheer number and variety of images.  Many were high on the walls of the canyon and I couldn't reach them at all.  But most were just a short climb away, and you were free to sit, touch and examine them close up!  Archaeologists think that images, like this one, are examples of birds from Central America showing a commerce between the areas.

To Native Americans, however, the drawings are to remain sacred, or secret: they hold a memory, a story that we can only imagine.   William Weahkee, a Pueblo Elder, said it best "Each of these rocks is alive, keeper of a message left by the ancestors... there are spirits, guardians; there is medicine"

I definitely left feeling at peace: a gift given to me by the ancestors and one that your family would enjoy as well!

See more of my traveling adventures!
Tip:  The Albuquerque Volcanoes are a side trip to the Petroglyph National Monument!  Worth seeing if you have the time!

You are exposed to the dry, hot, New Mexico Sun - bring plenty of water, a hat and sunscreen!

Watch out for Rattlesnakes and report any sightings to the Ranger.

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