The Lemon Lot hiking group's drive today was very short - from Tsankawi's parking lot down to the White Rock Y. The photo is of the ruins of Duchess Castle, a short distance south from NM-4 and north of Tsankawi. It's on Bandelier National Monument land. In the background is the Queen Mary Mesa and Tschicoma Mountain with the snow.
This area was badly hit by the bark beetle and it looks like Bandelier treated it by chopping up the dead trees. There is a trail to the ruins. The group continued past the ruins, eventually going into the north branch of Sandia Canyon. In the past, the group has followed Sandia Canyon to the Rio Grande and then gone up Buckman Road but it's said that San Ildefonso Pueblo is thinning in that area now.
At one point, I thought the group was stopping for lunch so I went a little further down canyon, planning to skip lunch, but then they decided they were going further up canyon for lunch. I apologized for making them wait for me. I wanted to go all the way to the Rio! It's beautiful in the Sandia Canyon with tall walls of columnar basalt towering above you.
On the way back, we went up to the side of a mesa to admire a sun dagger and then continued back along mesa tops, with views of NM-502 below us. Our head leader showed us the "Jump" where someone has carved three footsteps into the rock to make it look as though a person went over the cliff. In the past, the group has followed these same mesa tops eastward to an overlook of the Rio Grande called Red Cave. The ceiling has fallen down so now it's more like White Cave!
At the end of the mesa top, it was problematical going back down but we all made it in one piece. As we got back to the highway, the coffee van that parks at the White Rock Y was being towed away - must have broken down.
Our co-leader's GPS said we did 6.75 miles and I feel like it but it was a good hike and I've wanted to get back into that country around Tsankawi and toward the Rio Grande for a long time!