down to the wild rivers

This last March, President Obama established the Rio Grande del Norte National Monument. So we basically live next door to a national monument now.  Over 240,000 acres of land, from the deep canyon gorge to the 10,000 foot Ute peak, with volcanic cones, lava rock, mesa desert and the forest. 

d. and ponderosa

One spot in the the monument is the Wild Rivers area. Up top you can see the Sangres, the Tusas, and San Antonio and maybe even far off, Mt. Blanca in Colorado. From the flat plateau, take a hike down into the Gorge, and go from the scrubby mesa to a lush river area...the confluence of the Red and Rio Grande rivers. I'd wanted to visit for awhile, and we finally had the time/weather moment to try. 

Of the several hikes available, we took La Junta, which is also the one labeled "difficult," mostly because it was the most south-facing (and meant, the least possibility of snow). On the trail, we could feel the heat of the sun-baked rocks, occasionally interrupted by the cold breeze picked up from the rivers below. 

After walking down the steep, rocky trail, with all kinds of "oh wows" or "that's pretty" along the way, we reached about 3/4 of the way, and D., points up, showing me what we'll have to steeply climb back up. We decided to keep on a little further anyways.

In the massive rock formations, black rock with layers of red, orange and brown in huge boulders and pebbles. It is hard to escape the feeling that you are simply walking along a timeline of earth's creation.

We got close enough to hear the water rushing, but not quite to river side. and on the steep climb up we stopped a few times to breathe deeply, but really, it wasn't too difficult. Also, on the way back up I filled my pockets with red lava rocks. finding it amazing to find such reds in rocks.

Back on top at the La Junta Overlook point, with a view 800 feet down, I told D. I for sure wanted to come back, and this time, go all the way to the meeting of those rivers and explore some of that canyon.

The collected rocks are now in a jar labeled "Wild Rivers".

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