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Month: February 2020

The Malpais: Badlands of New Mexico

El Malpais National Monument & El Morro National Monument
My 40th Birthday Foray into Arizona and New Mexico
Sunday, February 16, 2020

The last day of my 40th Birthday Foray into Arizona and New Mexico had finally arrived and although we technically had one more day left for the trip because of Presidents Day on Monday, we decided that we would rather drive home later this evening and have Monday off to rest and get ready to go back to work on Tuesday than stick around another day. After spending the night in Los Lunas we started driving west on historic Route 66 toward Grants so we could visit The Malpais (an extensive area of rough, barren lava flows) of New Mexico for the first time. We had started this week-long adventure along the old Route 66 at Petrified Forest National Park in Arizona the previous weekend, and now we would be ending it just down the road from there in New Mexico.

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Messages in Stone Below the Sierra Blanca

Return to the Three Rivers Petroglyph Site
My 40th Birthday Foray into Arizona and New Mexico
Saturday, February 15, 2020

After spending an amazing night at White Sands National Park, we stopped in Alamogordo for a quick breakfast and then headed over to the Three Rivers Petroglyph Site so we could spend the rest of the day there. Just like with White Sands, we had visited the Three Rivers petroglyphs Site during our Honeymoon Adventure three years ago, but back then I didn’t realize just how many petroglyphs are found here and we did not have nearly enough time to really explore this area as much as I would have liked, so I’ve wanted to return to spend more time here searching for petroglyphs. This time we planned to spend most of the day hiking along the top ridge until sunset to see what we could find. I was a little concerned that there might not be enough to keep us busy for a full day, but I was again surprised by just how many petroglyphs are found here and we still didn’t have enough time to see them all! I guess a third visit in the future is probably in order the next time we find ourselves down this way!

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Returning to the White Sands of the Tularosa Basin

White Sands National Park: Same White Sand, Different Name
My 40th Birthday Foray into Arizona and New Mexico
Valentines Day | Friday & Saturday, February 14-15, 2020

Three years ago Diane and I had visited White Sands National Monument for the first time while we were traveling through the deserts of the southwest on our Honeymoon Adventure. We really enjoyed our experience camping within the world’s largest gypsum dunefield, so when I started planning my 40th birthday trip I had considered returning for another overnight visit and added it to the possible list of places we could go. While it wasn’t high up on my list at first, as soon as I found out that White Sands National Monument officially became the 62nd designated National Park on December 20, 2019 when the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2020 was signed into law, I quickly moved it up on the list since I figured it was probably going to start getting even busier in the future now that it’s a full-fledged National Park!

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Gila Cliff Dwellings of the Mogollon Mountains

Gila Cliff Dwellings National Monument
My 40th Birthday Foray into Arizona and New Mexico
Thursday, February 13, 2020

After our nice overnight trip into Aravaipa Canyon, Thursday was going to be a shorter and easier day for us. Today we planned to drive up into the Mogollon Mountains from Silver City to visit Gila Cliff Dwellings National Monument, which is a small Monument that was established in 1907 by Theodore Roosevelt at the edge of the Gila Wilderness. In case you didn’t know, the Gila Wilderness was the nation’s very first designated wilderness area. Although we didn’t have much time to visit this large wilderness area on this trip, I would certainly like to return in the future for a longer backpacking trip.

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Grand Canyon of the Sonoran Desert: Aravaipa Canyon

Our First Time Backpacking Among the Saguaros
My 40th Birthday Foray into Arizona and New Mexico
Tuesday – Wednesday, February 11-12, 2020

Today was the part of the trip that I was looking forward to the most since I first started making these plans last year. I have wanted to hike through the perennial waters of Aravaipa Canyon, sometimes referred to as the Grand Canyon of the Sonoran Desert, for a long time and this experience was one of the main reasons I had planned this birthday trip into southeast Arizona in the first place. Back in November I secured an overnight permit for my 40th birthday when they first became available for the date, and chose to start from the more popular West Trailhead since I knew we would most likely be driving Diane’s Edge for the better fuel mileage and comfort on this road trip. For those not familiar, anyone who hikes into the Aravaipa Canyon Wilderness requires a permit from the BLM in order to help preserve the wilderness experience of the area. A total of 50 people are allowed per day, from which 20 may enter from the East Trailhead and 30 may enter from the West Trailhead. This can be a popular hike during the busy season, but the middle of February is probably the lowest use season because of the colder water temperatures of the creek. This sounded like the perfect time of the year for us to hike among the saguaros into Aravaipa Canyon!

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