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Another Local Treasure: Monument Canyon Loop

Sun, 2016-10-23
Michael R. Altherr
505 231 3561
Leader Email: 
Are dogs allowed?: 

Background: This is another in a series of hikes that I like to call local treasures. We live in a spectacular setting, but often find ourselves fleeing the area to get away from our weekday lives on the weekends. There are spectacular adventures to be had within minutes of where we live. This is one of them. Monument Canyon was a designation given to the area in 1932 to protect a 1-square-mile section of old growth Ponderosa Pine Forest. I like to think it was given the name due the number of tent rocks and hoodoos in the area. One turn-of-the-19th-century photograph, that I have seen of the area, showed a fairyland rock garden in a mature well-spaced forest. Smokey the Bear left his mark here and many of the features are now obscured from the rim by the density of trees. Consequently, this has insprired my interest in going down into the rock garden to photograph these unique features. This trip will be limited to 10 individuals and up to two well behaved dogs.

The Goods: We will meet Sunday morning October 23, 2016 at the LAHS parking area, departing at 08:00.  White Rock, Santa Fe and other Northern New Mexicans can meet at the back gate at the intersection of NM 4 and NM 501 at 08:15. We'll review the roster, arrange car pools, waivers, etc. and plan to move on up the road ntl 08:30. We will drive up to the vicinity of Sierra los Pinos and drive up FR 134/135 as far as is practical. The plan is to hike past Jemez Falls, past the hoodoos to Cat Mesa at approximately 1.5 miles. Now this is where it gets interesting. I would like to descend into the rock garden of tent rocks and hoodoos and find my way across the East Fork of the Jemez River to McCauley Warm Spring. As far as I know, there is no trail that links these features. I will bring a short 50' section of rope to provide a handline if needed for some of the loose low angle slopes likely to be encountered on the descent to the river. After a brief (optional) soak in the warm springs, we will return along the path to the Jemez Falls Pinic Area, descend and cross the river to return to the cars. If we are not able to find a reasonable path down to the river and cross to McCauley, we will return the way we came. Total estimated distance is about 9 miles, about 1/3 of which is off trail. Estimated time required 8 h.

Extras: Helmets are recommended as well as the usual backcountry accoutrements for a fall season hike. I also recommend long pants and long sleeve shirts to protect against the brambles expected near the water. I recommend 2+ L of water, but if you wish to go light there is water along the route at a couple of spots. In that case, you would definitely want to treat or filter it. Bring lunch and snacks for a day out. This is a dog friendly trip for friendly dogs. The owners are expected to carry extra water and snacks for their compainons.  If you'd like to bring your furry companion along, please call the trip leader and let him know. There is a two dog limit on first come basis. Note: THIS TRIP INVOLVES OFF-TRAIL BACKCOUNTRY TRAVEL AND IS NOT APPROPRIATE FOR ALL INDIVIDUALS.  IT MAY INVOLVE THE USE OF A HANDLINE TO DESCEND LOOSE LOW ANGLE SLOPES. If you are of good cheer, patinet and enjoy a bit of adventure you should have a good time. If you have any questions or interest in pariticpating please contact the trip leader (preferably by email).

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