I know, “enchanted” and “badland” doesn’t seem to fit too well. However, it was how I felt, exactly, when I was in Bisti Wilderness Area in New Mexico.
Just in case anyone is wondering why I am “back tracking” to NM, you don’t have to worry. I am still in Colorado and I still intent to go to Alaska one day. 🙂 This is just a side trip.
It is a long side trip – 3.5 hours away. Yet, ever since I have seen pictures of this Wilderness Area 5-6 years ago, I wanted to be there! In fact, one of the reasons I picked the south west corner of Colorado is because it is within driving distance to Bisti.
So, how come I didn’t go earlier of the week while I was in CO, if I was so eager to be there? Well, from what I have learned online, it is a true wilderness area without any office, facility, trails or markers! One needs a GPS to go into the area. I am very good following maps, but I don’t have very good sense of direction without a map or GPS! That is why I was so reluctant for a few days. Talking about the “healthy” balance (see post #12). 🙂
Yesterday (4/23/13) was the first day I got up after 8am in a week since I started the trip. So I had a chance to ask questions at the Visitor Center here in town (Pagosa Springs, CO). I was planning to hike just around the area, if there is any trail opens.
Well, I was right about not many trails open in the area. And it was a cloudy, cold and windy day anyway. So, I started driving south, not even directly towards Bisti. I just wanted to go to a warmer place. Perhaps, along the way, I could find a NM visitor center to ask the concerned questions I have about the “most wanted” to go area. 🙂
I wasn’t in any hurry since I didn’t have a clear goal in my mind. I just drove slowly, letting everyone passed me and stopped by the side of the road taking pictures. There are lots of rocks and a little bit strange-looking rocks between Chama and Bloomfield. So I felt this trip wasn’t a total waste of time. I did see a little bit what I wanted to see.
By 3:30pm, I reached a National Forest Office in Bloomfield. They confirmed that all the information I learned was correct. There is no real trail and no marker. It is easy to get lost! Seeing the disappointment on my face, one lady said, kindly and encouragingly: “You could still see something along the road. Just keep track where you are”.
So, with the assurance from the nice lady in the office, I went. By the time I reached there, it was 4:30pm.
There was one car in the parking lot. An old couple was sitting in the car. I went to talk to them, hoping to get more specific direction. “You won’t find it, without a GPS” the woman said without any hesitation. “We have been here three times and we did get lost the first time we were here” she added. “It is too late, anyway” the man elaborated. “It will take at least a couple of miles before you could see those special rocks you are here for”.
As I felt “defeated”, another car pulled in with another couple. As soon as they parked the car, I went to ask them whether they intended to hike and whether it was ok to tag along with them if they did. They said they were intended to hike and they did have a GPS.
Wonderful! So I put my boots on and got my bag full of water, warmer clothes (it was very windy) and other necessities ready. Meanwhile, the second couple got the GPS coordinates from the first couple. After they finished talking, the couple thought there wasn’t enough time to hike 4 miles and decided to come back the next day!
“You are welcome to come with us tomorrow morning” the lady said warmly. When I told them I am staying three and a half hours away, the lady added “just stay with us in Farmington, then”. How kind and wonderful some people can be! I really appreciate their goodness, but said “no thank you” to them anyway.
So, the two cars left. I was back to being alone. Hiking into the wilderness at this time of the day by myself was not wise and not doable; leaving this already looking special area was equally painful. So I did what the lady in the National Forest Office suggested – walked along the side of the road and just wondered far enough to still find my way back. At least, in this way, I thought I was able to see something, anything!
I saw plenty, much more than I hoped for. As soon as I started walking, I was taking aback by the beauty and uniqueness of this area. “Enchanted” was the word I kept on saying to myself. I was like a girl with a sweet-tooth lost in a candy store, seeing everything and wanting every piece of “candy”. I have taken so many pictures; some of them probably will become my own favorites. 🙂
Oh, don’t worry. Although I was “wowed” by this place, and did wonder further and further away from the road to the “next” amazingly shaped rocks, I did keep my eyes on the direction. It is certainly no fun lost in the wilderness at night, even I was prepared with warmer clothes and a space blanket. Luckily the area is relatively flat so the power poles worked well as the “landmark” for me. I didn’t go too far away that I couldn’t see the poles.
When the sun came down, I had to say goodbye to this enchanted land. I will try to come back, on my way home from Alaska. I simply love this land too much. Hopefully next time, I will stay closer so that I will be able to hike all the way in the area where everyone was talking about!
It was 11pm when I got back.
A note to my “motherly” sister and everyone cares about me: I can’t promise I won’t drive in the dark again. But I will promise that I will try to do it as little as possible. I know it is not safe driving in the dark on twisty road. I was very careful and drove 5-10 mile below speed limit! Bisti is such an enchanted place that I had to “risk” a little bit for it (being there earlier in the day wouldn’t help me much since sunset is the best time for taking pictures).
PS. my photo website: http://fineartamerica.com/profiles/qing-yang.html