Piedras Marcadas Canyon
Petroglyph National Monument
I drove up from Belen for another visit to Petroglyph National Monument and arrived around noon at the Las Marcadas Parking Area on Jill Patricia Street. The parking area is just behind a Jiffy Lube or something like a Jiffy Lube. There are no fees for this area. The only area where you have to pay a fee is at the Lower Boca Negra Canyon area where a $1 weekday and $2 weekend parking fee is charged by the city of Albuquerque. I grabbed my pack, locked the car and headed up the concrete drainage that runs up beside the home next to the parking area. I followed the trail along the base of the escarpment and started a methodical process of hiking up and down the face of the escarpment carefully checking the boulders for petroglyphs. This greatly increased the length of my hike verses the straight path of the trail along the base of the escarpment but it allowed me to cover the area more thoroughly to view and photograph a larger percentage of the glyphs in this area.
Near the top of the escarpment, about halfway through the hike I was suddenly surrounded by hundreds of honey bees flying all around me. I paused and closely watched them and was able to locate where they were coming from. There were 2 basalt boulders about 20 feet from me and it appeared that the bees were coming from under these rocks. I slowly made my way over to the rocks and was able to look in under them and see a large mass of bees covering a nice piece of honeycomb. There was a small tumbleweed partially blocking my view so I moved it out of the way to lie down on the ground in front of the hive. I slowly crawled up to where my head was about 3 feet from the mass of bees so that I could get some photos of the hive. I was sure glad that I was wearing a bright red T shirt so that I was inconspicuous!
My father was a bee keeper when I was growing up so I have some prior experience with bees and I was not afraid of them but I did have the question running through my head of whether these bees were of the Africanized variety that have proven dangerous when aroused by intruders. The bees were passing busily in and out of the opening under the rocks less than a foot from my head and were leaving me unmolested. I returned the favor and just watched for a while and took several photos of the bees before carefully backing up and exiting the area to continue my search for the petroglyphs.
Near the end of the day I surprised a small Cottontail Rabbit under a large boulder. He froze as they will often do if they think you don't see them and I was able to get several good shots of him. He looked like he had, had a close encounter with a coyote or some other predator and he was missing half of one of his ears but seemed to be ok other than that. I also jumped a Jack Rabbit on my way back to the parking area.
After 6 hours of climbing up and down the escarpment face, I was beat and decided to call it a day. I ended up not quite making it all the way to the end of the trail and missed the 6th and last, large concentration of glyphs there. I will return on a later date to complete that section of the hike.