This was a first for me. Sure, I've been camping, and I've even hiked in a mile or two to my camping spot. But backpacking in the wilderness for 3 days? Nope. Hadn't done that before. I had a great time, and I plan on doing it again, but I wouldn't recommend northern New Mexico as a starter point for new backpackers. I'd probably suggest somewhere pretty, with green and shade. However, if you're heart is set on New Mexico, Bandelier is a pretty cool place. It's famous for the ancient cliff dwellings where Native Americans lived once.
Day 1: We hiked along the trail until we came to a sweet cave with a reconstructed ceremonial house.
Then we hiked along this "river" until we realized we were on the wrong trail. At that point, we were several miles into the canyon. No biggie - we can just climb up the side of the mountain to get on the correct path! So, that's what we did. And nobody died (which was somewhat surprising).
Day 2: We hiked about 7 miles, with 5.5 of it being a loop. The first half of the loop looked like this:
Day 3: We hiked the 5 miles back to the visitor center. The weather was lovely and the walk was much less treacherous than the previous two days. No major mishaps (thankfully), so the trip left an overall good taste in my mouth.
6 hours ago