While taking a little rest at the Manzano Crest Trail/Red Canyon Trail junction, we realized we still hadn’t seen even one person and no wildlife besides a few birds and some squirrels, and we were still in the middle of the wilderness, about 2 hours away from the trail head where our trailers were parked.
It was such a grand adventure and we were enjoying every single second of it. We were so happy to be riding our wonderful, hard-working, willing horses and riding with a good friend.
And we were even more excited now that the trail had stopped climbing steeply upwards, and our tired ponies could finally get the opportunity to travel downhill.
We were now riding down through Red Canyon, which, unlike Spruce Spring Trail, was sunny and bright. And there were still a few more magical Aspen Groves to ride through, too.
And until we rode down farther into the canyon, the trail was mostly clear of rocks, which made for a nicer more comfortable ride for our horses, too.
There were still plenty of Ponderosa Pine trees, many of which were huge. Kendra wanted to know if this tree was bigger than Bailey’s butt. “Hmmm…does this tree make my horse's butt look smaller?”
We enjoyed the sections of trail that opened up with views off of ledges down into and across Red Canyon.
It was so wonderful and relaxing to just stop and enjoy the scenery, the cool breezes, and the whispering sounds of the wind blowing through the pines.
The scent of the fresh mountain air and pine trees were intoxicating…and I think my face said it all.
The views were just so incredible!
But as we rode down lower into the canyon, the trail became very rocky and we had to take our time and slowly make our way over the rocks and boulders. Apache took her time and was very sure-footed and careful.
After a while we were riding beside a creek that typically flows with snowmelt, but also contains several springs that flow all year long, except during drought years. Kendra was reassuring Bailey that she wouldn’t make him cross the creek on that fallen tree.
As we traveled through Red Canyon, we’d catch glimpses of the canyon rock walls.
The trail became rockier, greener, lush and moist. We even saw ferns growing beside the trail.
Red Canyon Trail does tend to get more foot traffic, usually on the weekends, so it is maintained better than Spruce Spring Trail, of which we were grateful for.
We had already been out on the trails for over 4 hours, so we and our horses were pretty tired, so we made sure to take frequent rests.
But we couldn’t stop for long because we still had a ways to go and it was getting late in the day.
There were still surprises around every bend in the trail, like this funky, moss-covered boulder that I named Jabba the Hut.
Our horses were getting fed up with the rock and boulder covered trail, so when Bailey saw the layers of rocks at the bottom of this hill, he refused to go any further.
After some serious discussion, Kendra was able to convince him to keep going.
The rocks and boulders were just part of a creek crossing.
This tree seemed to be giving us the hairy eyeball as we passed by.
There were several creek crossings, although they were barely a trickle.
I was hoping Apache would drink from the creek, but she mostly just sniffed and snorted at the shallow creek, and held out for the water waiting for her at the horse trailer that I had brought from home. She drank 3-4 gallons before I loaded her up for the drive back home.
Red Canyon became narrower and was lined by towering rock walls.
Funny photo: Kendra was so strong to be able to carry this dead tree around. *grin*
Red Canyon rock walls.
We arrived at one very steep section that was covered in huge rocks and boulders.
And ended up at the Letter B.
Hmm….what does B stand for?
Well, there is a cave up ahead…….
The cave was very shallow and there were no signs of any bears.
But right at the cave, we chose to dismount and lead our horses down that section just below the cave, because it just got steeper and more rock covered. We knew our tired horses would do better negotiating over this rugged, tricky section, without having us on their backs.
Thankfully that challenging section of trail only lasted for about a hundred yards and then we were able to mount back up again and continue down the rest of the trail, which was flat and covered in a soft bed of pine needles, all the way back to the trail head and our trailers.
And that is the end of another awesomely epic trail ride, shared with a good friend and my wonderful mare Apache, here in beautiful, enchanting New Mexico.