Natural Bridges National Monument is 35 miles from our campground. We left about 8 yesterday to visit the monument and hike the 5.6 mile round trip hike from Sipapu Bridge to Kachina Bridge and back. It was a long, difficult hike but we are really glad we did it. We walk five miles (10,000 steps) almost every day--on smooth, level surfaces. This hike was anything but smooth or level and I logged over 20,000 steps yesterday. But both the ranger and the brochure told us it was really 5.6 miles for this route. Of course, we did our weight training before the hike.
This is Sipapu Bridge.
A couple of hours later, we came to this view of Kachina Bridge.
We drove on Bridge View Drive to the trail head at Sipapu. We began the hike through this gate.
The trail was clearly marked at the beginning.
We walked along this shelf below overhanging rocks.
But, to get to the bottom of the canyon so we could see the bridges from their base, we had to climb down the equivalent of a 50-story building--500 feet. There were stairs, railings and ladders to help us go down.
At least the ladders were sturdy with good wide rungs.
This was the easiest way to get on the top rung of this ladder.
It wasn't long until we approached Sipapu bridge, which is 220 feet high with a span of 268 feet, width of 31 feet and thickness of 53 feet.
From there, it was a long walk through the canyon to Kachina Bridge. At times we were in the stream bed, at other times bushwhacking through willows and walking in loose sand.
We could see how high the water can be in the canyon after heavy rains. We certainly wouldn't want to be there then.
At each turn, we would wonder--will we see the next bridge here?It's not here.
Oh, there it is! How long will it take us to get there?
We did finally get to Kachina Bridge. It is 210 feet high with a spa of 204 feet. The width is 44 feet and the thickness 93 feet.
We still had to climb to the canyon top and walk across the mesa to our truck. There were more stairs and railings.
Then a hot trail across the top.
The ranger had suggested we go across the mesa top to begin the hike while is was still relatively cool, then we would be climbing back up in full shade to the parking lot where we left our truck. We didn't go that way and we were glad. I was too tired to climb those ladders and hang on to all those railings by the end of the hike.
Barbara and Ron will remember our hike to Picacho Peak several years ago. This one was almost as hard at that. But we always have such a sense of accomplishment when we complete a hike like this. We will always remember this one, too. It was so beautiful. These to old people--72 years old--feel really good about ourselves and what we saw yesterday.