Tent Rocks: Hoodoos, Earth Pyramids and Fairy Chimneys
Now that you’re confused and wondering what all this has to do with our Reluctant Medium, well, the Kasha-Katuwe Tent Rocks
was another location where Rachel Blackstone searched for clues to her brother’s unexplained hasty departure from the Santa Fe City Hall.
It’s time for us to get back on the bus and make the short excursion from Santa Fe. The national monument is located about 40 miles west of the city. We’ll take I-25 to the Cochiti Lake exit. From there, it’s gets kind of fretful as we drive along the base of the Cochiti Dam. Try not to think about how much water pressure is on that dam. It has a capacity of 718,000 acre feet. Yeah, I don’t know what that means either, but that’s a lot of water. And it’s the 11th largest earthen dam in the world: Just a little dirt between us and all that H2O. It’s a bit freaky.
Well, moving along. We do have good luck on this trip. For years, the last five miles of this journey were washboard rough. It was a 5mph kind of road. My first several visits were bumpy at the finish. In 2010 someone had the bright idea to pave it. Your kidneys will thank them.
When Rachel Blackstone arrived at Tent Rocks, dark was fast approaching. Today, we’ll see it in daylight; not nearly as spooky. Kasha-Katuwe means “white cliffs” in Keres, which is the long-established language of the northern New Mexico pueblo Native Americans.
Some six or seven million years ago, the Jemez Mountains to the west, blew their stacks. In the pyroclastic flow that followed there was enough ash and tuff dumped to have buried a medium-sized city. Reportedly, it was a quarter-mile thick (about .402 kilometres). Time, wind and rain, over many years, have created the conical shapes. Although basically a grey color, there are shades of pink mixed in. Some reach 90 feet in height.
Apache Tears, a black obsidian stone or volcanic glass (when tumbled, it is quite smooth and a black-brown color), can be found throughout. Pick it up and admire it, then return to the ground. Leave only footprints. It gets its name, Apache Tears, because of its shape and some believe it can act as a healing stone, helping one move through grief. According to folklore, anyone who carries Apache Tears will never have to cry, because the Apache tribe has cried enough tears for us all.
Many of the tent rocks have peaks which come to a point, giving them the look of a tent. But you’ll also notice that some balance a caprock on that tip, much as a seal balances a ball on its nose. A few of the towering rocks have been carved out leaving chambers much like those lived in earlier eras. But these have been used as camping quarters by more recent humans.
If you’d like a fine photo op, there is a trail through a slot canyon. This is a bit over a mile, but is rewarding as you can photograph the monument from above getting some fantastic pics. It’s a majestic sight.
Here’s something fun. Check out the Ponderosa pines. If you’re not sure they are Ponderosa, lean forward and sniff the bark—that’s right, sniff the bark. If you catch the fragrance of vanilla, it’s a Ponderosa. This will be most easy to detect during the warmer part of the day. So if you see people standing around the pines with their noses against the bark, they aren’t out of their minds, just enjoying the fragrance.
There are a variety of small animals in the area such as chipmunks and rabbits, but in quieter times you might see a strolling coyote. One early morning, I was certain I saw a bear. I elected to go to breakfast rather than becoming breakfast.
Tent Rocks is a magical landscape that you might think belongs in another world, but it’s here in New Mexico waiting for you to discover it for yourself.
For more information: www.explorenm.com/hikes/TentRocks/ www.nm.blm.gov/recreation/Albuquerque/Kasha_Katuwe.htm
— G G Collins
Ghost story this week with another chance to practice your psychic expertise:
Many people don’t realize the New Mexico State Penitentiary is near Santa Fe. It’s usually the last thing on anyone’s mind as they drive into Santa Fe enjoying the clear skies, high desert air and anticipating a few days of nonstop green chile and margaritas. But in February 1980 one of the worst prison riots in the US happened here. At least 33 people were killed, but the total couldn’t be certain. Two hundred were treated for their injuries. The convicts in Cell Block 4 were targeted because that was where the snitches were isolated from the general population.
Eighteen years later, former Gov. Johnson closed the prison due to “uncontrollable disturbances.” The inmates were moved into new facilities. After that, the old prison became a filming location for movies as well as a training center for police. One movie extra decided to explore, walked into a cell, the door closed behind him. Once a guard let him out, he left the set and did not return. Other reports of cell doors opening or closing, apparently on their own, lights coming on or going off without reason, unexplained sounds and even shadowy figures that suddenly disappear. Most disturbing are the burn marks on the floors where inmates died that cannot be cleaned or painted away. The marks always return.
Other deserted prisons are considered haunted. Maybe life sentences extend into the afterlife.
Psychic question of the week (notice, I’ve discovered the “poll” feature):
For the answer, check back next Sunday.