This week I decided that it was time to do a real hike. I’ve been walking all over Santa Fe, but after a year of being here, I want to start exploring the area and at the same time strengthen my body and mind and spirit. I’m guessing I’m a little slow regarding this feeling, after all, just being here in New Mexico, it’s just the way it is, Mind – Body – Spirit – Growth. (For me, it seems that the body has been growing faster than the rest… )

So, off we went to Ghost Ranch in Abiquiu. It’s about an hour and twenty minute ride from my home in Santa Fe.

I was lucky today, my neighbor Martina happily decided to drive us and I was delighted. Here’s Martina, always a bit ahead of me, starting the hike.

I thought at this point, piece of cake! I can do this! Remembering photographer Arthur Meyerson always mentioning ‘the 180 rule’ and my reminding friends of this all the time, I was constantly turning around to see what was behind me.

Here’s the first view I could have missed if I didn’t turn around. The light was perfect for December 3rd. It was just slightly cloudy but it was a bright overcast and the sun was not too strong.

I’ve never seen a landscape like this before. The sand beneath our feet was not dusty, which I was surprised. It was sandy and the gorgeous red color of the local clay. I kept turning around. The rocks were gorgeous with natural drawings of mold and lichen. Then, the rocks started to change color. For my daughter, Lisa, who thinks this place is just brown… I don’t think so!

And, here is where I stopped my hike. It was an interesting hike up to this point. The hills were rolling, with a few dips and climbs. I got a little winded, but it was nothing that I couldn’t handle. And, then, this came up. The drop below was oh, maybe, 200 ft or more and the rocks we were climbing were wobbly. I started to do it and then, I just froze. It didn’t take long for me to decide not to continue. I was at first proud of myself for knowing what I could handle and what I couldn’t and was happy to tell the group that I was going to stay behind and wait for them to return. This is Martina just buzzing up the cliff. I called out to her asking if I could do it and she said, ‘of course’. But, my little voice was saying, ‘maybe next time’.

Ghost ranch-22

So here I stayed. There’s the drop below me. I was happy to be sitting on my rock.

Ghost ranch-28

So, I started to look around. I was shooting with my iphone and my Fuji xPro1 and the colors were nice but flat. I got up to stretch and the rocks fell off the landing I was on into the area below, so I sat down. I decided, no time like the present to learn every aspect of my camera. I played with buttons and dials that I never knew were there.

And then, just like that, I started to get a show from G-d. The light changed. I started to wonder how this area was formed.

I started to listen to the sounds. (mostly my tinnitus… but it seemed to be a bit quieter).

I started to hum.

Then I started to wonder about bears. And tigers. And lions. And snakes.

What was I thinking???

When would they return?

How far from the top was I?

Were they going to eat up there?

What was I missing?

Did they miss me?

Calm down.

Do multiple exposures!

Play with my camera!

That was fun, now back to the view in front of me. If I took twenty photos, would they look different?

I’ve never been a landscape photographer but maybe this is changing a bit. It’s been over an hour. I’ve been all around the 20 ft circumference of my stone ledge seat.

Time to play with apertures.

Look at the textures!

Now I’m laying on my back, catching rays and playing with depth of field.

How could I have missed this? This was to my right. It didn’t look like much of anything until the sun hit it. I tried to go to the white rocks but by this time I didn’t feel steady enough to do anything but make my way back down. Now I’m noticing little details. This wasn’t so bad! I learned all about my camera and took lots of images with different filters. None of those made this cut, but I know where the settings are now. Oh look! My footprints. This looks like a movie set to me. I expect to see little creatures marching by. At this point I was happy to see Martina and head back down safely.

This twisted dead branch of what I believe is a juniper tree, looked like a bird to me. I’m looking forward to trying this hike again. Want to come with me? I wonder who will chicken out and who will make it to the top with me next time.

I learned a lot about myself on this day. I listened to my buddy inside my brain and allowed myself not to be pressured to attempt something I wasn’t ready for.

Now that I know what to expect, I’m hoping that the little buddy will cheer me on, at my own pace.

  • Dear Janet:

    And so, an excellent landscape photographer is born!

    These are really great photographs, rich. This is the beauty of New Mexico!

    Let’s go on a hike together some time soon.ReplyCancel

  • I have spent a lot of time at Ghost Ranch, but never have done this particular hike (I think it must be the Kitchen Mesa hike) because I’m not so brave. Thank you for giving me the chance to see Ghost Ranch from a new perspective. (Based on the pictures, I probably WON’T be doing this hike. Chimney Rock is enough of a challenge for me!)ReplyCancel

    • admin

      Hi Colleen, Thank you for looking. I was happy to see that the blog was posted on Abiquiu’s facebook page. I froze on that hike but I have a few friends who tell me that they will go with me again and get me up there. I’ve been hiking alot lately so I think I will make it. The images I saw from the top (yes it is the Kitchen Mesa) were unbelievably gorgeous, so that’s my drive to get up there. Hope to see you there!ReplyCancel

  • DavidTillman

    Very nice photos and writing! I am glad I found this. My wife and I are going to be staying at Abiquiu Lake in early June and are trying to plan our visit. I do plan to visit Ghost Ranch. Do you have to go on guided tours, or do they just check you in and let you wander? Is there a fee for hiking around on your own?ReplyCancel

    • admin

      Hi David,
      I went on a hike at Kitchen Mesa with a group. There was a small fee. I’m sure they have a website with all the fees/tour options. It’s a gorgeous place, bring your camera! Have fun. JanetReplyCancel

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