My Secret Is Out....

...I'm not 21 anymore. 

It looks like my tenure in New Mexico may be coming to an end and this could be my last weekend here for a while.  No promises but there are elements out there that are pointing in that direction.

So, to take in the a few more sights, I drove up toward Ruidoso Saturday just to see anything that might spark my interests.

About half way up, passing through the Indian Village of Mescalero, I happened up on a local parade celebrating something of what I know not.  I stopped for a while to look but unfortunately, wasn't able to get close enough before the parade was over.

Sunday afternoon found me out scouting for sights again when I remembered someone telling me about some waterfalls in the canyon going up to Cloudcroft.

With a backpack full of extra water, some emergency supplies and my camera, I gingerly made my way down the edge of the canyon.  The canyon was about 250 feet deep and 300 feet wide with sharp cliffs  along the way.  On the side next to the road, there was more of an opportunity to crawl down and many people had done so.

I emailed (GPS enabled) a cell phone photo of the back of my rental car to my brother, telling him to send the calvary if I didn't call or text him back in 2 or 3 hours, then started descending.  I won't say this was mountain climbing but the grade was loose small rocks that slipped from under my feet, making me grab larger boulders and small trees on the way down and use my tripod as a walking staff.

Getting to the bottom a small stream flowed over the rocks causing several little waterfalls.  It was cool there and gave quite a relief from the 100° temperatures down in the basin.  I snapped a few photos and talked to a few young people who came down as well.

Within 30 minutes, I felt a few drops of rain and noticed the clouds darkening and thought being in a narrow canyon might not be the best place to be. 

The trip up was entirely different than coming down.   Now, the backpack seemed twice as heavy and the rock that I had slid on coming down, now required crawling up on all fours.  It had taken me 20 minutes to get down but now, I was stopping every 5 minutes to catch a breath in the 6,000 ft altitude.

Others had started coming up too and teenage boys scrambled past me trying to get to their cars before the rain and lightening became worse.

Somewhere along the way, I stopped to let my pounding heart catch up, catch a breath and ponder what in the world made me think going down there was a good idea.  At one point, I sat and pondered what I would do if I could not continue and no one else came along.  The cell phone showed no signal available and the ground was not flat enough to sleep on.

Finally, I mustered up enough energy to get to the top where I sat in the car for a good 10 minutes with the air conditioner blowing hard while I recovered.

I confess, the reason it was hard on me was,
  •  I'm not in shape, 
  • the altitude was 6,000+ and........
  •  I'm just not 21 years old anymore.