Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Paliza Canyon Goblin Colony

Jeff and I headed out to the Jemez Mountain area near Ponderosa to check out the Paliza Goblin Colony. We were getting a late start, weather has been iffy in the afternoons, and it just sounded like a cool place to visit! This spot is 45 minutes or so from the house so we figured...why not take a quick hike? There is a newly renovated campground in the area after a dirt road drive along a creek. We followed directions from one of the trail books we have and got right to the parking area. If you didn't have the book I don't think you could really find this strange outcropping of rock formations. You probably wouldn't even find the trail that leads to them! We encountered a couple walking a dog who didn't go far enough to even look for the grouping and a couple on horses getting a REALLY late start - they started as we came down which was right about thunder time. The hike is a pleasant, non-taxing walk fairly flat along a creek until you reach the formations. We heard water (an exciting thing here in the desert) and investigated a creek. We saw fields of purple flowers blushing the hillside near the Ponderosa Forest. We stopped to watch a strange living thing zipping around the blossoms like a hummingbird but not looking quite right. Turned out to be a hummingbird moth which has got to be one of the coolest things ever.

The book told us the hike was around 4 miles round trip - we did around 5 miles. As you cross arroyos and walk the trail you keep looking to the left for rocks. Out of nowhere the little colony appears! This is where the hike becomes more of a scramble up very steep and slippery sand. We had read that this part of the hike was "difficult" but didn't believe it. The angle of the hillside was very steep and hard to stand on and there isn't any respite. The rocks have peculiar holes and things but you really have to struggle to find "faces" in them. I had been hoping for a little more interest photographically although just seeing the stuff was fascinating. A weird little rock group with nothing else like it nearby. Strange. This would be a good full-moon hike but could be kind of treacherous. We walked the entire colony and found that the area to the right didn't have any clear way to go down (big drops). We headed back the way we came in zigzagging down to keep our footing. Thunder started up. Then lightening. We headed out like we've done for the previous few weekends only this time we escaped hail. It is REALLY nice having so many diverse spots to hike that are so close to home. There is a huge variety of really interesting rock formations here. Every hike we go on has new surprises even when it is close to somewhere we've already been. Maybe on Halloween we'll go back with lights to illuminate our strange new friends in the forest! I like the giant "Tiki" head exhaling big puffs of clouds...

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