Our crew of 18 is my cheering squad. Wednesday, I managed to hike up Tsankaii Trail, which was difficult for me, but I got to the top and back with the muscles in my legs in a knot. The trail weaved around some tuff (ashes of volcano hardened and containing stones); or it led us to the edge of a cliff. Often we put our feet in steps that had been worn in rock (made by early Indians?)lifting one foot in front of the other to propel us forward; climbing up and down typical Indian ladders (that first step the longest), and at other times squeezing between rocks with our backpacks on. The trail was up and up and I wasn't sure I could make it, but I wouldn't have complained for anything. I did find other hikers who had knee problems and needed some time off. My backpack, which has a reservoir for water, was really good, as holding anything in my hands was difficult when maneuvering in and around the rocks. All I had to do was sip the end of a tube hanging beside my left shoulder.
By the time we got to Bandelier National Park, I said goodbye to the others and sat out the two hours. Fortunately, there were several who felt the same as I and this gave us time to get acquainted more.
Leaving Bandelier at 3 pm we with cars headed to Abiquiu, some 2 hours north on 84. The scenery seemed much like the desert of Western movies. Actually our next home for three nights and two days would be Ghost Ranch some 15 miles north of Abiquiu on the road to Chama.
Today,Thursday, the "easy" path for everyone but YOU KNOW WHO was to Chimney Rock, on the acreage managed by Ghost Ranch. After vowing I'd sit this one out, loyal suporters told me to ignore my frozen thigh muscles and hit the trail, that I'd feel better when I started. Hah! I made it up the steepest hill, huffing and puffing enough for four people, so loudly I couldn't hear the explanation of the paleontologist who was pointing to thoursands of years old-algae and lichen. When I reached the rest of the group, they began climbing again. "You've done the worst, just keep going," was the mantra of the few who felt compelled to urge me on. I gave out after trying the next hill, sat on a rock and promised the hikers to stay intact until they returned.
Downhill later proved to test my knees, my thighs, my eyesight (I looked down hiking up and down the hills), so hitting bottom was like a refreshing drink of water.
Let's face it. Despite drinking so much water I thought I'd be the next Old Faithful in reverse, I knew that my problem was the altitude. Of course, there are the muscles unused to such punishment, but breathing some several hundred feet more than the 7,000 plus feet is difficult.
I took the afternoon off and napped while the experienced ones went to Box Canyon. Humph! I'd hiked one canyon, and this is more difficult. I've sense to know when to quit.