Black Mesa Hike

Ok one more post about Santa Fe. On one of our sunnier days, we hiked into a canyon known by a number of different names. Black Mesa or Black Canyon seem to be the most popular names, though I’m not sure if there is an official name for it. It’s a fairly deep canyon on the Rio Grande just outside of Santa Fe.

Here’s Ms. J and Mr. C hiking into the canyon.

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Mr. C noticed that there was a guy climbing the wall of the canyon using a system of ropes and pulleys. Let’s see if my camera can get a shot of him on the wall. There he is in the blue shirt. At first it looked like he was alone, but he did have at least one other person with him at the base of the wall, watching his progress and monitoring the ropes. The climber seemed to be fairly young, maybe in his late teens. Even though it was late December, and we had gone skiing the day before, it was warm enough that day in the canyon for him to climb in a T-shirt.

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When I was a kid, my parents were very cautious so I would never have been able to do anything like rappel down a sheer cliff face. Even if I had somehow been able to go through hundreds of hours of training, it just was not going to happen. My Mom and Dad would take different approaches to safety. My Mom would be concerned with the possibility of getting seriously hurt of maimed when doing whatever activity was being considered, with the added bonus of somehow adversely affecting her health as well. ‘Oh, no, you’ll get hurt, please don’t do that, I’m sure I’ll have a heart attack if anything should happen to you’. I’ll call this the “guilt approach”. My Dad would go with what I’ll call the “shock and horror” approach. ‘You know what happened to the last guy who did that? He ended up crushed beyond all recognition at the bottom of the cliff, no one could tell WHAT he was, much less WHO!”. With that two pronged scare tactic, I didn’t do anything remotely risky when I was a kid. Probably the most dangerous thing I did was riding my bike off the loading dock of an abandoned factory once. It was something of a dare, or just peer pressure, from the group of kids that I was with at the time. Everyone else was doing it, so I had to too. Off I went over the edge of the crumbling concrete pad, about eight feet from the asphalt parking lot. I went flying over the handle bars of the bike and scraped the palms of my hands. And no, I did not tell my parents about that.

After all of the ingrained safety training, I might be expected to be cautious with Mr. C. However, it’s been a little bit of a struggle, but I’m trying to not be as cautious as my parents were, within reason of course. I’d like him to be able to ski and hike with confidence, without having to worry too much that I’m going to have a heart attack or have nightmares caused by my cautionary stories about being crushed by falling rocks while hiking. Much as my brain’s safety manual guidelines would require that Mr. C not climb the giant boulder at all, I do let him do it. Watching every step of the way, and making sure that Ms. J is right next to him too. I sweat every step and dig my finger nails into my palms in nervousness until he is on flat, solid ground.

I’m on a de-sensitization campaign with my parents now. Whenever we do anything that they would consider remotely dangerous now, I make sure to take a picture and email it to them. Like this one of Mr. C climbing a huge boulder. Don’t worry, Ms. J is right there next to him, unseen by the camera since she’s a little bit lower, holding on to him to make sure he doesn’t fall. Might be a little bit mean of me to send them a picture like this.

I’m sure that my parents think I’m completely crazy for letting him do some of these things. But at 4 he’s already a better skier than I’ll ever be.

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You can see the dark shadow as we enter the canyon here. It must be at least ten degrees colder within the canyon, out of the sun. Must be why it’s called ‘Black Canyon’.

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Here’s the road out. You can see the ruts in the dirt from the years of use. 20140113-170151.jpg

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3 thoughts on “Black Mesa Hike

  1. Growing up my dad told the same stories but my mom was the one instigating all sorts of crazy things! Usually my Dad would go along with it and then next thing I knew I’d be getting hauled up to the top of some crazy cliff for the great view. I have significantly less of a sense of “adventure” than some of my family members – especially when it has to do with heights!

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