Sunday, July 17, 2016

La Bajada

I drove an hour north of Albuquerque yesterday to enjoy the morning's cool breeze and a sunrise walk at La Bajada.

La Bajada is best known today for the remnants of the old Route 66 alignment which snakes up over the escarpment above the Santa Fe River. That famous roadway, however, was preceded by older north/south routes including the colonial Spanish Camino Real which stretched all the way from Mexico City to Santa Fe. Before that, the local native people followed trails across the mesas and down the river canyon for thousands of years. Many petroglyphs can be seen on the slopes beside the eroded Bajada roadway which are thought to date mostly from the height of the Puebloan period between AD 1300-1600.

An acequia at the base of the escarpment carries Santa Fe River water to cultivated fields and pastures around the village of La Bajada.

Petroglyphs along the La Bajada route are mostly in the Rio Grande style.  Some like the small horned serpent figure are nearly identical to glyphs at La Rinconada forty miles to the south.

The Sandia Mountains east of Albuquerque can be seen in the far distance in the scene below.  In the foreground a large, cryptic design covers the upper surface of a large basalt boulder.  On the other side of the boulder there are a number of zoomorphic figures.

There are said to be petroglyphs all along the five-mile stretch of the Santa Fe river canyon between La Bajada and La Cieneguilla where there is a concentration of thousands of petroglyphs along the rimrock above a marshy area.

Perhaps when the weather cools in the Fall I'll try hiking to the top of La Bajada and down through the river canyon.

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