(Almost) Hawk Watch Trail

First, thanks for all the support and encouragement from last Friday’s post! There has been quite a bit of positive feedback, for which I thank you all. On Friday itself, I literally had to walk a bit around the neighborhood before bed in order to drag myself across the 8,000 step line for the day. I silently committed to myself that I would do better on Saturday as I fell asleep that night.

Except, I didn’t. Saturday, as it turns out, was full of stuff. The kind of stuff that totally ruins exercise planning. I spent hours visiting with my family across town. Then, even more hours hanging out in a marathon online gaming session with my brother. By the time bedtime rolled around I had managed only 5,000 steps for the day, with no reasonable way to recover.

Well, I thought, there’s always tomorrow…

Sunday Morning Coming Down

Sunday is supposed to be our “free day” for the week. You know, we relax our dietary restrictions a bit, don’t hit the gym, give ourselves time to recover from the previous week.

Well, my recovery had been performed the previous day, so Sunday was going to have to be spent picking up the slack. I began to plan our assault on the wilderness as soon as I woke up Sunday morning.

I have probably failed to mention, but we’ve begun to amass a collection of “day hiking” gear since our last foray. In a previous post I mentioned the items that I thought we needed for future day hikes. Since then, we have been getting buried in donated gear. Not one but two hydration packs. A GPS unit. An emergency locator for when I get lost in the woods. Even a pack size first-aid kit. Other than shoes, we now have just about everything we need for day hiking trips.

But we hadn’t had a chance to try out all this nifty new gear yet. I woke up Sunday morning and began prepping all our cool new stuff. When Lor got up a few hours later, she was also ready to head out the door and into the woods. We gathered up our stuff, patted Vixen on the head, and locked the door behind us, then drove over to the Tijeras Canyon.

What Is Your Definition Of “Moderate?”

Again, I used the Sandia Mountain Hiking Guide to pick our destination. I selected “Hawk Watch Trail” for our day’s excursion. Hawk Watch Trail is an offshoot of Three Guns Trail, which winds through the Southern end of the Sandias from the Tijeras Canyon until it meets the  Embudo Trail in the foothills above central Albuquerque. Hawk Watch sounded interesting, terminating at a point where researchers studied raptors in the area. It was listed at 4 miles in length and “Moderate” in difficulty.

Someday, I need to meet the person that writes the Hiking Guide. As it turns out, their definition of “moderate” involves steep switchbacks ascending 1,500 feet from the base of the canyon to a plateau 7,400 feet in elevation, overlooking the Tijeras Canyon and the plains South of Albuquequrque. Visibility was pretty awesome, though – we were able to see all the way to the Polvadera Mountain near Socorro:

“Moderate” difficulty notwithstanding, we were not up to the task of making it all the way to the top. We should have started our hike much earlier in the day. Two miles up the trail we were sun-blasted, drenched, and wobbling. We were finally forced to admit that one of us was going to wind up plunging downhill into a cactus if we kept this up. Being stubborn, we didn’t return back down the trail. Instead, we followed an unmarked trail that sort-of looked like it would wind up back at the trailhead.

Two hours later we finally made it back to the car.

The After-Action Report

The bad news, of course, is that we didn’t finish the trail. The whole canyon area is very dry, with almost no cover, and by mid-day it gets totally sun-blasted. We may need to consider moving our hikes further up into the Sandias, past the tree line.

That or hike indoors, which sort of defeats the purpose.

The good news was that, by the time we had hit the bottom of the trail,  I had already dinged over my 8,000 step goal for the day.  The GPS unit worked great, the hydration packs were a life-saver, and I didn’t have to use the emergency beacon or the first aid kit. So, overall, a win for our little expedition.

But I have some serious doubts now about tackling any of the Sandia Hiking Guide trails that are listed as “Difficult”.

My Quads Are Feeling It Today,

Jeremy

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