Tuesday, May 21, 2013

New Mexico Part 3: Beautifully Broken

This is a view of the Quebradas from a distance.  The Quebradas are just outside of Socorro, NM.  Socorro marks the beginning of the Chihuahuan desert.  You're not so much in a mixed climate anymore. You're in the desert.

The first time I was out to the Quebradas I was kind of down.  I didn't entirely feel like leaving the house, but my hand was forced, and I am glad it was.  This place blows me away. Every.time.

A rough translation of Quebradas is "broken."

Broken is how I came to the desert this time.  I guess broken is how I came to it before too, the first time.
You don't think of the desert as a place to heal.  People don't think of New Mexico as beautiful all the time. You hear desert and you think things like: Punishing, lonely, brown, dead, dangerous. Stifling.

What it really is though? Vast. Surreal. Painted. Wild. A wanderable timeline. The earth twists open and you can see how it formed. You can see where rivers used to run, where water sculpted the sides of mesas and mountains like they were putty instead of an immovable object.

And yes, it is dangerous.  You have to think about your body, and listen to it. To me that's part of it though. I always knew right away when I wasn't drinking enough water. My  head would hurt, lungs would burn or my voice would fade. The sun would suddenly seem more oppressive than it had all day.  The thing is, you have to be aware of the basic functions you normally take for granted. You start to realize just how much your body needs water, and what it's like when you don't have what you need.

Lewis took me to Bursum Springs, an area of the Quebradas I'd never been to.  A spring feeds this small little oasis.  There was a big flat rock shaded by cottonwoods, and the wind is cut by the surrounding ridges. I'd only seen the windswept, sunsoaked side of the Quebradas, so this section took me by surprise.

It'd be really easy to pass it by, too. I'm fairly certain that one of the times I was out here we must have driven past this area, and I didn't even know it was there.  We sat out on the rock, I dipped  my hand in the water and was surprised at how cool it was. We climbed the ridges on the right hand side to see what was over the top of the ridge.  I want to go back and camp out here.

This was our first hike in the Quebradas after lunch, and it was an ambling, slow-paced one.  Plenty of time to hang out and explore, and I was glad for it.

This is honestly an amazingly beautiful place.  The area we were in was called the Jornada Del Muerto. The Journey of Death.  So...yes, untamed and dangerous, but...amazingly beautiful. 

It just seems like every corner we came around was somewhere else to get out and explore, and we were out there for quite a few hours doing just that.

When you really start to explore it, it's not so brown and desolate.  It's severe, and jagged, but the sun fades and breaks and paints things.  The sky is a stunning blue, and the sun touches ridges and seems to set them ablaze, while other things are shrouded in shadows.

Things do grow here. But they earn it. They adapt and hold on to whatever soil they can find, and whatever water.  They're all so unique, surreal even.  As small as the feather dahlia blooms are, the bright purple stands out over quite a distance.

We were there just as things were starting to bloom.  I just don't think people know how alive the desert really is.

I love the way you can see all the exposed layers here, and the way this massive rock just...folded.

Maybe I'll stop talking and let the desert speak.

There's just something about this place that speaks to me. Maybe it's because it took so long for me to find it. Maybe it's because I didn't want to go in the first place, and as soon as I got there I didn't want to leave.  Maybe it's because it's broken, and exposed. Maybe it's that every time you think you've seen it all there's something else.  Because you can walk through time here.  Because white turns into red, yellow, green and purple in the blink of an eye.   Because down a dusty hill there's an oasis.  Because when you climb one ridge you may just find yourself standing in a red sandstone cathedral with the sun framed perfectly in the center, and wonder how you ever found a place like this.  That was a discovery I  made with someone I loved one of the times I was out here.

Because broken calls to broken.

You need to be there to find out just how much you need an oasis, and what it's like to come upon one.

Because sometimes you need to know that even if you ARE broken, there are amazing things inside of you.

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