Ghost Ranch Hiking

Ghost Ranch entrance

The famed northern New Mexico Ghost Ranch excels at workshops and retreats, yet also provides some excellent immersive nature hikes. During my visits over the years, I’ve slowly chipped away at the list of hiking trails with just a few left to explore. Yesterday under partly cloudy blue skies and temperatures pleasant in the sun, but one-layer short in the shade, I thinned the list by hiking the four-mile Box Canyon Ti b’uiu’u trail.

An enjoyable, gentle hike, the path wanders through the grassy plains between towering mesas and then beside a meandering creek as the elevation rises and the canyon narrows. In between two mesas, the trail plays hop-skotch with the small, wandering stream adding a whimsical enjoyment in finding different ways to cross the creek. This rock or that one? Or for fun, jump from bank-to-bank or from that big rock.

Along the trail there were also a handful of unexpected sweat lodges, and although not old, they added historic ambiance to the hike.

To read more about the Ghost Ranch and see photos from a previous hike on the Chimney Rock trail, check out this post from 2019.

Ambivert, Anyone?

Lone tree atop a badlands mesa
Lone tree atop a badlands mesa.

I’ve always felt I needed to explain, at some point in a conversation or friendship, that innately I’m an introvert. Over the years, however and thanks to corporate life demands, I’ve learned how to also be a successful extrovert. What that really means is I’ve learned the dubious art of being able to switch to an extrovert when needed, yet when that moment passes, I don’t have to turn it off: my natural introvert takes care of that autonomic response.

But today, via a like on yesterday’s Abiquiu post from Wandering Ambivert, I learned a new word: ambivert. And said learning will make the future much easier to explain…maybe. If ambivert is unknown to the other person it won’t save any time in explaining things, but then one more person will know this useful, little known word. That’s a win-win.

In looking up its etymology, original use was in 1923 when a psychologist coined the word to explain patients who exhibit both extrovert and introvert traits. Pretty much a young pup as odd words go, yet a useful word in certain situations. Specifically it means, per the OED, ”A person who exhibits a balance of extrovert and introvert tendencies or traits.” I wouldn’t call how I switch to an extrovert as being part of a balance: it’s more flexing of a trained muscle than a behavior trait in balance. But, close enough to lay claim to rights to use the word.

Back to Abiquiu

Riana Campground on Abiquiu Lake
At Riana Campground on Abiquiu Lake with the famed Cerro Pedernal mesa in the background

I seem to be constantly revisiting this magical place in northern New Mexico for some reason. This is my…fourth? fifth? trip here, but each time I feel the urge to buy land or small house and base from here. But, as we all know, now is probably one of the worst times to purchase real estate, and this area’s land or house asking prices are at record levels.

Abiquiu is place you either love or don’t get the attraction. It is certainly not a bustling community with a 2019 census population of 151, maybe making it to 500 or so if one counts the surrounding areas. But it is home to numerous creative types along with a small hispanic and indian population. Seems to be a tourist destination of sorts, too, with the long-term tie to Georgia O’Keefe and the related Ghost Ranch learning and nature center down a road a bit.

Abiquiu is isolated but does not feel remote. Despite the demographics, the buzz and activities at Ghost Ranch, Bode’s in downtown Abiquiu seem to belie the small population count. “Downtown” is a generous word here, since that only includes Bode’s gas station/eatery/grocery/retail store, the post office, a library, the Abiquiu Inn, a health clinic, plus a few outlying places. Taos is 80 minutes away and Sante Fe a bit over an hour south. Access to things you need periodically, including serious enjoyment in arts and culture, is in either place via scenic drives through this marvelous country.

I feel a connection here to the Earth and its amazing geography and to the spirits or those intrepid ancestors of locals who struggled to survive in this bleak, but beautiful, country. And for me it is also a place of calmness, a retreat from stress and too many people and issues. Between amazing hiking or an environment conducive to going within to write (or for many here…paint, sculpt, or create through photography), the land softly hugs my soul while comforting the spirit.

If you haven’t read my other posts with tons of photos from previous visits, check out my New Mexico image portfolio page with links to previous posts for more of my insights. Be sure to watch the two-minute video below of the drive from Bode’s in Abiquiu to Riana Campground on Abiquiu lake, plus two amazing photos at the end.

Drive from Abiquiu to Riana Campground
(sorry for the bug-splattered windshield…I should clean it before shooting videos through it!)

A Hike To Repeat

Overlock with stone shelter built in the 1930s by CCC
Overlook with stone shelter built in the 1930s by CCC

Some hikes are good exercise and enjoyable just to be in nature. Then there are those hikes you would love to do again and reverse your travel direction to get a different appreciation. Yesterday’s 4.1 mile final hike at Theodore Roosevelt National Park (North) is one I would like to do again from the other direction.

This was the best hike I have taken at the park, both during this trip and the one I made in July. Long enough to be a workout but not so long as to feel like a march. With varied geography, scenic views mixed with forest walking, stretches of sun and shade, some of it flat, other parts requiring ascent/descent, lots of wildlife too…all combining to make it an enjoyable experience. The only thing it did not offer that I enjoy is some rock scrambling when necessary to forge ahead on the trail.

If you get a chance to go to the north unit of the park (in my opinion a better, more intimate experience that the south unit where most people visit), then drive to the River Bend Overlock, park, and hike this trail known as the Caprock Coulee Trail. I think you would enjoy it immensely.

To view the images below in a slide show, click on any image.

Walking Wonders

Teddy Roosevelt National Park
Teddy Roosevelt National Park

Finally back to one of my favorite activities (hiking) after a long spell away. Yesterday’s 6.5-mile hike was a pleasant meandering under a crystal blue sky with temps around 80 and a light breeze. Ideal conditions and despite losing the trail at one time, a good opening hike back into my usual multiple-hikes-per-week travel norm.

Teddy Roosevelt National Park’s geography is the badlands type, and is host to a lot of wildlife, most notably bison. This visit I haven’t seen too many of them (unlike the July trip when a herd of ~80 wandered into the campground and lazed about for a good two hours). What I’ve seen have made for good photos, as well as some turkeys, antelopes (no pix), deer (no pix), and prairie dogs.

There are enough valleys in between the mesas and such to make getting lost not a huge problem, and easy to one’s way back if needed. Still, this was my first hike since acquiring a Garmin inReach Mini, a GPS text device used by many hikers (especially good solo hiker gear). The InReach provides texting capabilities but more importantly an SOS button with a rescue service at the other end if needed. As I hike farther and farther distances into more remote wilderness, the inReach seems like a smart accessory to carry.

Enjoy the photo gallery below from yesterday’s hike (tap any photo to enlarge and launch slide show). Sorry about the sun flare in the photo at the top, but the shot was so beautiful I decided to use it anyway! See you down the trail.