Today we expanded our list of walking opportunities close to town by exploring a system of unofficial trails within the boundaries of Petroglyph National Monument. Just to the west of Albuquerque, this 17-mile escarpment has been set aside as public land to preserve its rich cultural landscape. There are 3 named canyons with trails to view the petroglyphs, as well as the Volcanoes day-use area for close-up views of the geology. All of these areas have become familiar friends for days when we have limited time but want to get out for a short walk.
But today Lee suggested doing something different with our afternoon. He had looked at a map of the Monument and thought there might be a way to walk in the southern section, even though it didn’t show any trails or labeled entry points. A named area on the map indicated that this area was called Mesa Prieta.
Our first stop was at the Monument Visitor Center. There we found a knowledgeable staff person who gave us detailed directions for finding the access point we hoped would be there. She also gave us interesting information about the history of that part of the Monument. Her prediction that we would enjoy our time there was exactly what happened. No better way to spend a couple of hours on a sunny, Albuquerque afternoon than walking in the desert, finding some early spring flowers and enjoying views of the city to the east.
There is a purple flower (weed?) now blooming everywhere we walk around the city. My friend who helps me identify wildflowers says it’s something she has to weed out of her garden but she couldn’t remember the name. As we walked to the Visitor Center today to ask about the area we wanted to explore I noticed a number of labeled plants along the sidewalk. Besides learning of a new walk, I finally learned what this plant is.