Hiking Toward Heaven: Church Rock near Gallup
WHATS IN THIS BLOG:
• Kit Carson cave.
• The Navajo town of Gallup, New Mexico.
• El Rancho hotel, famous for the movie stars who stayed there.
• A terrific hike to Church Rock.
Woody, as the head of WOWE, is a master of organizing hiking trips with WOWE, which stands for Way Out WEst. The one he organized last weekend, to Church Rock near Gallup, New Mexico, was outstanding in the hike itself (a challenging one) and the social interaction between the 15 hikers.
We stayed at El Rancho, a hotel which has preserved in style and photos a flavor of the old west — movies that were made here and actors/actresses that stayed in the hotel. Even the rooms have names like John Wayne, Jane Fonda, Kirk Douglas. My room was labeled Lorraine Day, but I’ve never heard of her!
The day before the main hike we visited Kit Carson cave. We don’t know how Kit Carson was connected to the cave, but we do know the man was a true legend of the southwest and his life has been documented beautifully in the book called Blood and Thunder by Hampton Sides. Carson’s home was in Taos for many of his adult years.
The night before the hike, I found myself singing a song called El Paso by Marty Robbins. It was Karaoke night in the hotel bar. Our singing brought the house down…..although there were only 15 people in the house!
At the trailhead, a few miles out of Gallup, we could see Church Rock in the distance. It reminded me of a singular imposing mountain in South Australia called Patawarta. That mountain was made famous by Sir Hans Heysen in one of his paintings called Land of the Oratunga, which was the Aboriginal tribe of that area.
The landscapes are spectacular, but we are reminded that this is what’s called high-desert, and there hasn’t been significant rainfall in the past 6 months. Another 3-year drought like we had 4 years ago? Climate change? Or a mega-drought (a 30-year drought) that drove the ancient Pueblo Indians away from their homes about 700 years ago?
Gallup is a town in the heart of the Navajo Reservation. At Earl’s restaurant, a well-dressed Navajo woman came into the restaurant showing her creations: a triple set of necklace and earrings, which she had made herself. I bought a set for my grand-daughter.
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PS: I write blogs about Inspiration and Hope, Science and Energy, and Health and Hiking.
Enjoyable post and pictures about your little adventure, Ian. Cool little trip.
Thanks Bruce. I’m always unconfident at the start of a 5 mile hike, because I have a new hip inside old legs. At the halfway mark though confidence returns and by the end of the trip I’m euphoric.
Beautiful pictures. I always love your blogs,
Thanks Mary Ann. Appreciate your support. I hope we can take some (smaller) hikes together.
Absolutely beautiful. Your blogs are always so interesting.
Thanks Lisa for your feedback. Maybe you can come out with Kim and take this 5 mile hike.
Reminded me of the Flinders Ranges in South Australia, especially the erosion holes much like the ‘bathtubs’ off the Aroona Valley. Even the pines are like our Aussie native pines.
Hi Ken. Our pines are called pinyon pines, and they’re a bit rounder than your native pines, as I recall. I love the water-pockets, or bathtubs as you call them…..always makes me think about the physics of the erosion by sand grains in the water. Where are the Aroona bathtubs?
Another very interesting blog post with great pictures. Thanks Ian. The geological features are stunning. I miss these features in New Mexico, along with the intriguing Spanish names for towns and places. Wish I could have made the hike with the group.
The geology always turns me on Don. I know just enough to be dangerous. I know you would have loved this hike. Get your heel fixed and we may do it some day! Thanks for your comment, always encouraging.
Good to see you are having fun with hiking friends. Great photos.