Adventure in the Jemez Mountains | Day Drunk: Adventure in the Jemez Mountains

October 6, 2014

Adventure in the Jemez Mountains

(Find out how the adventure started here: From Oklahoma to New Mexico)

The abridged version of the story is that while we were searching for hot springs in the engorged ravines of the Jemez Mountains of New Mexico we met a similarly young and local couple doing the same. They led us to the dubious location of a spring across the San Antonio Creek alarmingly full of rushing chocolate water, which made sense considering the whole area was under an aggressive flash flood watch. But we crossed the river anyway under the guise of this dude we just met, whose confidence infected us to abandon all common sense and traverse into an extremely unknown environment. We traipsed the ever-so-steep ridge in search for this "right over yonder" spot whose location remained elusive until we foreseeably got separated from our little band of strangers. Nessa and I hastily vacated the area with the sudden awareness that we might be lost if we weren't exactly where we thought we were (which is where we ended up being, thankfully). We two re-ford the river where once went four and meanwhile thought anxiously of our separated compatriots as the sun set, the river raged, and their car remained in the otherwise empty lot like a lonely sentinel of their return. 

While we sat at the water's edge drinking whiskey and waiting for these people to emerge safely and swiftly, wondering if this situation might entail an emergency 911 call in the near future, something unexpected happened. As we waited, fretting, they returned to their car and unbeknownst to us, got in and simply drove away, leaving us (presumably) in the untamed wilds on the other side of a flooding river at nightfall. 

Are you as confused as us right now? Like, we could have been in serious danger right then and not one soul in the entire universe aside from them knew where we were and still they left without a second thought!

How rude! After a bit of standing around trying to recover from our wounded, why-didn't-they-like-us-enough-to-not-leave-us-stranded-in-the-woods-to-die? pride, we were able to locate them a little further up the road and ask them that burning question: what the dang hell?! Turns out they had found the hot spring after all, had a little tête-à-tête and then skedaddled without a second thought of us stranded in the darkened wilderness in our tank tops and flip flops. Cue the dumfounded looks: answer deemed unacceptable, goodbye forever.

(We were in the woods behind here, btw. Image provided by Google Street View.)

That, my friends is the abridged version. Unabridged, this story features a little more clothing being lost and a lot more time spent picking through an abandoned meth lab, but that is best kept for another time - maybe another lifetime when I can reckon bad decisions with adventure.

So, a little deflated, but happy to be alive and similarly amused by the side of the road interlude with our new friends enemies, we headed into the night towards our campground. But first: Los Ojos Saloon, where we nursed our wounds with Shiner Bock and let ambiance heal us. This was a biggy for me; I had been wanting to booze at Los Ojos since I first drove past it one frozen night before Christmas 2008. I developed an instant crush on the mysterious joint that lit up the canyon with warm red holiday light, pulsing nourishing comfort with the promise of beer, food, and good company. As we had careened down that same icy mountain road through a valley void of civilization so many nights ago, the tympany of the saloon standing like a neon menhir in this unlikely place stood out to me long after we left it in the dark.

(Image courtesy of Google Street View.)

And, like I knew I would one day, I found myself once again 2,000 miles away from home parked outside of Los Ojos Saloon with an unquenchable hankering for beer and New Mexican food. Even better, there was live music inside and the band, sporting a New Mexican flag inside a Grateful Dead head, insisted on playing Emmylou Harris and Graham Parsons covers. Tears of wounded pride although tinged with delight mixed well with my Shiner Bock that night.

We pitched our tent at nearby Vista Linda campground where Nessa and I made the determined decision to write more, if only to chronicle this ill adventure. Soon after, Nessa joined the Day Drunk blogosphere with me and here we are today! So I guess you could say Day Drunk duo-style was really born that dangerous night in the Santa Fe National Forest with me and Nessa thoughtfully crafting journal entries by the light of our headlamps. And one year and a couple weeks later - BOOM here it is, the story of our Jemez adventure, officially chronicled in perpetuity on the internet (even if I did leave out a few parts).

We woke up the next morning and like a balm on our wounds found ourselves at a stunning cactus freckled campground whose vista was indeed linda. From there it was a short day trip northwest to Shiprock, my geologic mecca and gateway to the four corners.

Another story about Shiprock?! I can hear you saying with fervor, I can't wait, tell me now! But patience, my sweetlings, for that is a post for another day.


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