I’ve been wanting to hike Buckman Mesa west of Santa Fe for years now. Actually, I’ve decided to focus this spring and summer mostly on trails I’ve never hiked before. Buckman Mesa is roughly five miles from the trail head. The trail starts out following the bottom of an arroyo before turning left for a steep climb to the north. After this steep section, the trail flattens out after reaching the top of the mesa. The road to the trail head, it should be noted, is really washboarded and not in the best shape. The trail offers fantastic views of the Rio Grande Valley, Black Mesa, the Jemez Mountains and the Sangre de Christo Mountains. Near the high point of the mesa is another attraction of the hike, a volcanic blow hole. As I understand it, and I’m no geologist….rockhound, yes, geologist, no….the blowhole was formed during the time when this area was a cooling lava flow and gases escaped in this particular spot. The blowhole looks pretty much like a cave, and as such, should not be treated lightly and is best enjoyed from the trail. Many people have tried to climb into the blowhole and become trapped or injured, so DO NOT try it. Leave that for qualified cavers. If you are wondering why I didn’t call them spelunkers, you aren’t a caver.
This is a 360 view from the top of the mesa. The views are fantastic from up here, and if you start the hike mid to late morning, it makes a great spot for lunch. You may have noticed the lack of shade on this hike. For me, this is a good spring/fall/winter hike. In the summer this would be like hiking on a griddle. Not that it shouldn’t be done in summer, but if you choose to do this hike in summer, bring plenty of extra water and lots of sun protection.
This is the blowhole….note how everyone is looking in and no one is climbing in. Sometimes you can feel cool air coming out.
A view into the blowhole from the trail.
This is a view of the arroyo, which is pretty impressive all on its own, that leads to the trail up the mesa. The trail itself is steep in places and there is a considerable amount of loose rock, which leads us to….
thats right, why everyone should carry a first aid kit when they go hiking! A dog going one way, me going another and the rock under my left foot going yet a third direction! What I carry in my pack for a day hike varies, but there are a few things I always include. Among those things is a good first aid kit. There are a number of kits available in outdoor stores and other places, but I feel like they are just a starting point if you want to have something that can really help you out in a pinch. That plastic box with five band-aids, some “first-aid cream” and a booklet on how to use them won’t be of much use if someone flipps and ankle or they fall ill. Think about some worse case scenarios, and prepare for them! I had this ankle wrapped immediately after the injury occurred and the additional support allowed me to finish the hike back to the car. Thankfully, the injury is relatively minor, but I’ll still be taking it easy for a bit.