Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Atalaya Peak and Santa Fe

When I woke up in my tent this morning I decided that I was not in the mood for another strenuous hike above treeline. While I had originally planned to hike up 12,711 foot tall Gold Hill, I decided instead to head down to Santa Fe and hike the easier Atalaya Mountain.

And so, after a quick stop at Taos Plaza, I made my way south. I made a quick stop at Camel Rock
Camel Rock

and the nearby casino to use the restroom. Then, before I knew it I was in Santa Fe, one of the most interesting small cities in the United States. Using the directions in my guidebook, I made my way to St. John's college and the trailhead for my hike. The hike started out in an arroyo in a residential area, but soon started to move higher up into the mountains. There were lots of wildflowers in bloom and I stopped to admire many of them.
Purple Flower



Yellow Wildflowers



Soon The trail got steeper and the climbing got more difficult. I got my first scenic views of Santa Fe. At a junction I took the less difficult trail to ascend, but on the return trip I descended on the steeper trail. The summit area was quite amazing. There was an awesome overlook of the city. I found a boulder pile that I thought to be the highest point on the mountain and sure enough I found a register there.
Atalaya Register

I signed the register and posed for a photo
Atalaya Mountain Summit

before returning to the overlook to relax for a bit. 
Atalaya Overlook

Soon I was making my way back down the mountain to the arroyo. There was an old truck cab in the arroyo that now seemed to be used a s a place to practice graffiti.
Old Truck Cab

When I had returned to the car I decided that I wanted to explore Santa Fe a bit before getting back on the road. I drove to the plaza area and found a place to park. I ended up eating lunch at a pizza place Noelle and I had eaten at several years previously. Unfortunately it was not as good as I had remembered.

After filling up on pizza, i started to walk the streets again. I saw a large cross on a hill and was immediately intrigued. I made my way towards the cross and found that it was part of a heritage park. I ascended some stairs to the cross and read some interesting historical information along the way.
Martyrs' Cross

At the top the trail seemed to keep going past the cross and so I followed it into some sort of park that seems to have been forgotten long ago.
Grafitti Park

There were some walls covered in graffiti and some low mounds of rubble. The mounds reminded me of the ruins of some pueblos that I've seen in other parts of New Mexico. I decided to investigate.

Sure enough I found some pottery sherds near the mounds.

I also found a few flakes of chert that appear to be leftovers from some flint knapping and tool making. These discoveries sure made my walk worthwhile. I started to make my way back down the hill and back to my car, but I vowed to return to Santa Fe again soon. 

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