Sitting Bull Falls

PART NINE

Trail 214 adventures

Coming back from as far as I went on Trail 68 to Trail Junction C, I then took Trail 214 back since it met T68 in the very riparian area that I longed to see once more.

T214 is not in as good a shape as T68, but that is not to say it is not a usable trail.  Right at the start, leaving Junction C it was not entirely obvious just where the trail was, it was quite overgrown:

But in daytime it was not too difficult to guess where it was, and soon stone markers were everywhere to help:

At one point there was even a sign:

What T214 does that T68 does not do, is stay on top of the plateau until it has to descend, and then it is steep and thus requires many switchbacks.  There is no shade on the upper reaches of T214, none, so if you are doing this on a warm day like I was, be sure and come up T68, which has occasional shade and follows a more gradual grade, and then down T214 (if you want a change).

While still on the right side of the plateau I could see T68 across the shallow canyon now between us before it descended (it is the white line to the left of the yucca spike (it was quite clear using binoculars):

While still on the (south) side of its plateau, the T214 gave a nice view to the top of a thunderstorm, perhaps pelting the Guadalupes with cool downdrafts and rains.  I was jealous:

But T214 gradually crosses to the opposite side of its plateau, and once it approached that side, there are about nine switchbacks and the descent is rapid.  The top of the first switchback allowed a nice view down to where we were going (that dark group of trees below is where we rejoin the T68 trail):

The trail on these switchbacks is not smooth:

About the third switchback it became evident there was quite a forest below:

Every switchback start and stop has its photo but I am as tired of switchback pictures as I was of switchbacks on that warm day, so here is one last look back up from nearly the last switchback:

And from nearly the same place here is a last look back up the canyon we had skirted via the path on the ridge and then these switchbacks:

At the bottom we have about a mile to go in the sun and we move as rapidly as we can down, the trail is gently sloped here: our objective is to get into those trees and get some shade!

Once in those trees it takes quite a while yet to get into the riparian area, and once we approach that wetter zone, NOT losing the trail is an occasional -but real- challenge:

I just marched through the grass and was pleased to find this marker where I suspected it would be:

At this marker I was momentarily messed up until I looked up rather than the direction I had been going, and saw the next marker in tall grass uphill from this marker.   Visible from that marker was the Trail Junction D marker:

Just a few steps from here was the creek I had visited before.  The blue markers suggest where T214 travelers ought to cross that creek:

I rested here for a while and enjoyed the ambience I has so enjoyed on my first trip here (Part SIX).  Then I rejoined T68 and went home, and came back a week later to check out the trail T68 start at Queen, NM (Part Ten, it is next).

Go to PART TEN: Queen, NM, and the Guadalupes

Go to PART ELEVEN: The top of Trail 68 near Queen

Go Back to PART ONE: Location and Background

Go Back to PART TWO: Arriving at the The Falls

Go Back to PART THREE: The Falls

Go Back to PART FOUR: Lower Riparian Area

Go Back to PART FIVE: To the top and beyond

Go Back to PART SIX: Upper riparian area (springs!)

Go Back to PART SEVEN: Coming back for more: the grotto and pool

Go Back to PART EIGHT: Trail 68 Adventures

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