It has been years since we have hiked on slick rock, like you find in Arches National Park in Utah. Yesterday, we hiked the Church Rock Trail outside Gallup, New Mexico. The trail is part of Red Rock Park, a place I had read about each time we came here. The trail looked like it had good scenery, so we decided to give it a try. We didn't give a thought to the fact red rocks mean slick rock. It took a while for us to discover what we were up for.
The trail starts out in a sandy wash.
We could see Church Rock in the distance and great walls of rock nearby.
The trail description said to watch for stone cairns to be sure we stayed on the trail. We have seen lots of cairns, but none as large as we found here.
The trail is laid out like a lollipop--a relatively straight trail up toward Church Rock, then a loop around in front of the rock formation before you return on the same trail to go back down. Some of the trail went through juniper forest land.
But there was also slick rock to content with. You can get an idea of that terrain by looking at this formation.
Most of the time in these areas, I was concentrating on making it safely along the trail that I didn't take many pictures. As we rounded the loop and started back down, the trail was steep enough that steps have been carved into the rock face. In these areas, we sat down next to the steps and used them to control our scooting down the rock face.
Like I said, we haven't hiked on slick rock for years. But by the time we were on the return trail, we felt more comfortable with this kind of hiking. That is good because we will be going through Utah on our way back south in the fall. This is not my favorite kind of hiking and I would probably avoid it, if it weren't for the beautiful scenery we find on these hikes.
We thought of our friends Jim and Gayle and said, "they would be right at home in this area."
It was good we felt we were relearning our skills in this terrain. On our way back down, we encountered three families with young children on the trail. If those young people can do it, we can, too.