Hiking toward Heaven – East fork of Jemez River

• The Jemez River and its scenic beauty.
• Hiking to a perfectly lovely waterfall.

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The Jemez River starts in the Jemez Mountains about 1.5 hours drive from Albuquerque. Soon after this you come to the Valle Grande – an immense crater left after a series of volcanoes about a million years ago. Drive a little further and you come to Bandolier National Monument, one of the best-preserved ruins built by the Ancient Ones around 1100 AD (that’s 900 years ago). A bit further and you come to the science town of Los Alamos, where they built the bomb. It’s an enchanting area!

Kim and I hiked along the East Fork of the Jemez last week. At the end of May the grass is lush and green, and the scenery is spectacular.

The river meanders along in places, and amongst the tall Pinus Ponderosa trees (vanilla trees) you can feel the peace of God’s creation.

We had to cross the river 8 or 10 times in total, and some crossings were a bit nervous — we teetered on stones and fallen pine trees, trying not to fall into the water.










Kim’s a mountain goat, and she has to keep waiting for me to catch up. But I got one-up on her. At one river crossing she slipped from a rock and stepped into the river. It wasn’t deep, and it wasn’t cold. From then on, she walked in the river in her tennis shoes – and she loved it.



The day was warm but not hot and it was perfectly lovely standing in the shade listening to the burbling water.

As the canyon narrowed, we could hear the sound of a waterfall. And I love waterfalls – I’ve even seen some terrific ones in Tasmania and in Queensland, Australia.






And suddenly there it was. Not large, just a few feet tall, but really pretty. I sat on a rock and ate my trail mix and said a quiet thank you to God for legs that could get me here, for eyes that could see the splashes of sunlight in the water, and for ears that could hear the murmurs of the droplets. To me, it was a little bit like heaven.



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The Gray Nomad …..Lean in and learn
As the deer pants for streams of water,
so my soul pants for you, my God.
My soul thirsts for God, for the living God.
When can I go and meet with God?

Book of Psalms, chapter 42.

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Karen A Larre
Karen A Larre
5 years ago

Really beautiful, Ian. I LOVE Jemez Springs and it was wonderful to hear about your experience and how you were grateful to God for the ability to fully take in the waterfall.

5 years ago

Thank you for the refreshing mental trip back into familiar mountain territory! My parents lived near Fenton Lake for almost 30 years.
If you’re in the village of Jemez Springs, I recommend stopping for a burger, beer, and experience at Los Ojos Bar and Grill — it is next door to the Jemez Springs Presbyterian Church that my Dad helped build and maintain for all those years. There are stained glass windows there dedicated to him – and that’s where his funeral services were held. Jemez Springs as a community has a quirky mix of religious beliefs since there is not only a Catholic church (also founded as a mission to reach the people of the Jemez Pueblo), but also a Buddist community that was established as a commune by a bunch of 1960’s hippies (according to the local story I heard once).
I am the mountain goat in my family. But my heart is absolutely drawn to the places like you describe and to the glorious evidence of God’s creative hand continuously at work. May God bless you and keep you,

tom whittlesey
tom whittlesey
5 years ago

Thanks for the great pics, Ian… You were walking in our old stomping ground.. It looks like the area has recovered well from the fire damage a few years ago. How is your FRACKING story coming along? My story has a delay due to a 5 month job out of town. I am very excited to get back to it, however.

5 years ago

I especially enjoyed the part when you shared that you sat on the rock eating your trail mix and thanked God for you being there. It sounded so peaceful and serene.

5 years ago

Beautiful hike!

5 years ago

Great Blog Ian, I really enjoyed your photos and descriptions of the natural wonders. Thanks also for the verses from Psalms 42. Keep up the good work.

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