Friday, July 15, 2016

Day 31: Mesa to Ghost Ranch (Highway 84)

The reddish gold half moon disappeared behind the mesa to the west. A flash of light to the west caught my attention. It was quickly followed by another bright flash, then another, then another. Like the grand finale of an Independence Day fireworks show, the lightning came fast, with less than a second between each strike. 

A few sleepless hours later, it was time to hike. The trail follows the south rim of the mesa, with views of the Rio Chama in the green valley below and the red and gold sandstone cliffs of the opposite mesa. Then we headed north across the mesa before descending the other side. 

Then we were off to Ghost Ranch, former haunt of artist Georgia O'Keefe, now a Presbyterian retreat center that offers classes in diverse topics such as art, writing, paleontology, anthropology, and religion. The CDT used to pass right through, and the Ranch welcomes hikers and other guests. Although the new CDT route bypasses Ghost Ranch, it is a short 8 miles down the highway, and most hikers hitch a ride to resupply there. 

By the time we showered and resupplied, we had little time to enjoy the on site paleontology and anthropology museums or the hikes and tours. But we enjoyed seeing Chimney Rock and the red and gold sandstone cliffs surrounding there Ranch, the same landscapes that had inspired and challenged Georgia O'Keefe. We also appreciated the unfailing kindness of those around us, both staff and fellow guests. 

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