16 March 2006 Thursday

This morning several campers left the Three Rivers Petroglyph Site early.  We talked to another camper, Jim Courts, who is a retired park superintendent for the Custer Battlefield Park (his last park) and has worked at or visited most of the national parks and national monuments.  We talked to him a bit on the best parks to see and where to go that’s “off the beaten path” so to speak.   

We toured the petroglyphs, rock art that’s scratched into the stone by Native Americans hundreds of years ago.  This is the largest collection of petroglyphs I’ve ever seen!  There are over 20,000 documented petroglyphs in about a 1 to 1 1/2 mile area of ridgeline!  Wow!  We took the short 1 1/2 mile hike out to the end of the ridge, snapping photos and taking some videos.  

We hated to leave, but we had to get to White Sands for a backpack tonight.  We got to White Sands and re-encountered Spring Break!  Lots of people, but only 2 other backpacker groups, so they have eight sites still open.  The furthest site is a little over a mile and the closest one is 3/4 mile from the parking lot.  The two furthest ones were taken, so we chose the closest one, site number 10.  All the sites are pretty much the same, it’s not like one has a better tree on it or anything… it’s all sand.  Since we have such a short hike and we’re really out there to experience a night in the solitude of the white sands, we cooked dinner at the truck before going out and planned on hiking back to the truck for breakfast.  Since we weren’t eating, we didn’t need to bring a cook kit or stove or dinner foods.  We just brought some snack bars and lots of water (and a little bit of wine [contraband]), our sleeping bags and a tent.  We met up with some folks from Phoenix, Arizona, Ben and Anna, that were backpacking out with their little Pomeranian, Bear.  This little dog had a big dog attitude.  We hiked and chatted with them for a while until we came to our site and said good-bye.  We got to our site just as the sun was setting.  Lots of clouds made for a colorful sunset, but we are supposed to have a full moon.  We hope some of the clouds move out during the night.  The only lights we see are from the city of Alamogordo.  Early evening, we saw and heard several planes flying maneuvers overhead.  Holloman Air Force Base is next to the dunes.  It’s kind of cool watching them flying in the dark.  

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