Once we got to the top of the Manzano Mountains, it was time to hike back down.
The leaf color on the way down was even more beautiful than on the way up because the late afternoon sun was shining through the trees and making the leaves glow.
As we hiked through the darker sections of trail, the low light cast a blue tint to everything…..which appeared rather magical.
The colors of the forest were so dense, saturated and all consuming. Sometimes we just stopped to oooh and aahh and take it all in.
Before long we arrived at the place in the trail where we had discovered the Stock Bypass sign that I had posted the photo of in my previous post. On the way up the trail, we never did find out why there was a Stock Bypass. But we were soon to find out on our way down…….
Looking down this section of trail, it’s not too easy to see how steep it really was in this photo. Or how high the rock steps were.
But looking up, you can really see much better the steepness and ruggedness of this section!
This would be very challenging for a horse to climb up and would be dangerous in wet conditions. Thank goodness for the Stock Bypass Trail!
Instead of returning the way we had climbed up, we decided to do a loop, since both trails were about the same distance. Or so we thought.
It was a little spooky to hike on the new trail because we seemed to be the only people hiking on it and the trail travels away from the Fourth of July Canyon State Park and is in the Manzano Wilderness.
But we were on a grand adventure and there was so much beauty all around us, that we were too happy to be worried.
But I also knew that I wasn’t in the best of condition to be doing such a long hike. And although 8 miles doesn’t sound like too much, it is when the longest hike you’ve been on in over a year is 3 miles, and that was done on relatively flat trails.
But still, we were oblivious to any trouble and were just basking in the brilliant beauty all around us.
Every time I turned around, Kendra took a photo of me, taking a photo of her!
And my daughter Jen was just thrilled to be out on the trails hiking with us. She never complained until she started getting hungry about 3/4 of the way. And we had already eaten our lunch and all of our snacks.
Thankfully we had brought plenty of water, though.
Kendra and I had fun discussing the conditions of the trails for horse riding and making plans to bring our horses here to ride. We will definitely come back next Autumn for sure!
The Manzano Mountains are so beautiful…and I love that they are located right in our own New Mexico backyards!
As we made our way down lower to the Cerro Blanco Trail Head, We encountered some steeper sections. My calves were really burning by this time.
We both enjoyed being surrounded by the towering Ponderosa Pines.
By this time the sun had dropped behind the Manzano Mountains and to take good photos, we had to use our camera’s flash.
Whew! We were so relieved to have finally made it to the Cerro Blanco Trail Head!
But our journey was far from over…..we still had to hike down the road back to the Fourth of July Campground……and it was much farther than we thought it was supposed to be…..
But we didn’t know that when these photos were taken….hence the big, relaxed happy smiles.
We were at Trail 79, across from Big Spring, on Forest Service Rd 55. Our goal was to hike through Tajique Canyon on FR 55 until we reached Fourth of July Campground. My hiking book said it was about one and a half miles. But, that was the longest one and half miles we’ve ever hiked. We guessed that it had to have been at least 2 miles.
But for a road hike, you could not ask for a prettier route to take.
It was very peaceful and quiet and we never saw another person or vehicle the entire time.
I enjoyed seeing the interesting texture of the aspen bark set against the colors of the autumn forest.
We were all grateful for the beautiful scenery, especially on that last mile or so of trail. It sure lifted our spirits and kept us going even though we were all very tired by this point. We still found lots to laugh about, too.
I think Kendra and I were both very thankful we had brought our cameras, too. Not only did they keep us busy and our minds occupied with a task to do, but they also helped us focus on the beauty all around us.
We finally made it back to the Fourth of July Campground and we were both very grateful we made it back before it got dark. It was a grand adventure and one we were very happy to have shared together.
But I have to be honest and share how, for several days afterwards, I limped around from the most sore legs I’ve had since my first x-country skiing trip 18 years ago, when I skied over 5 miles the first day.
Ugh. When will I learn not to overdo it?