Training Day

First Day Hike of 2017

As part of the preparations for the assault on the La Luz trail later this year, Lor and I have made a commitment. We will be hitting one of our local hiking trails at least once a week. Not only does this get us out of the house and off the treadmill, but it also gives us some exposure to the big yellow glowing thing in the sky. With, like, birds and trees and stuff.

This weekend’s excursion was the Boundary Loop trail at the foot of Sandia Peak.

No Boundaries

When I was looking for info on day hiking in the wilderness around Albuquerque, I was lucky enough to find the Sandia Mountain Hiking Guide website. This is actually intended to be an additional resourceĀ for owners of the book of the same name, but I found it to be so chock-full of info that I haven’t even bought the book yet. (Don’t worry – I will. Support your local author.)

Not only is there info on hiking prep, GPS, and geocaching, but there is also a great section detailing several day hikes around the Sandias. Looking at our options, I noted trails from 4 to 11 miles long, rated from Easy to Difficult. Accordingly, for Saturday’s excursion, I picked a 4-mile long “Easy” trail. No sense overdoing our first outing, right?

At the north edge of Albuquerque, along Tramway Drive, is Forest Road 333. This is actually the road that eventually leads up to the La Luz trailhead. The trail I picked is not quite that demanding. The Boundary Loop trail starts at a public parking lot about a quarter mile off Tramway, and heads up into the foothills to the edge of the Juan Tabo Canyon, then back to the trailhead.

You’ve never heard of Juan Tabo Canyon?

Yeah, neither had I.

Into The Foothills

So, Saturday morning, I began our preparations. I threw 3 bottles of water, 2 jackets, and a Leatherman into a beat-up old day pack. Lor added a couple of protein bars, some fruit, and a bottle of old sunscreen. With that, we were off!

The trail head is only about 15 minutes from our house, so it took us hardly any time to get there. Upon arrival, at first glance, I was not too impressed.

So…That’ s it?

As it turns out, there was a little bit more to it than a single trail heading straight up to a low hill. For one thing, that hill is a heck of a lot taller than it looks from the side of the road.

OK…good hike. Can we go home now?

Yeah…as it turns out, there was a whole bunch of wilderness back there behind that hill. Just waiting for us to get lost in it.

At least the view is nice…

Since this trail hiking thing is not our usual gig, I decided to use the MapMyWalk app to keep track of our progress. Mainly, I wanted to make sure we were stopping and hydrating every mile or so. As my massage therapist puts it: “By the time you realize you are dehydrated, it is too late!” We set off up the trail, scrambling up and down hillsides and following dry streambeds. Eventually, my cell phone called us to stop at mile #1.

One down, three to go!

We followed the trail up to the edge of the Juan Tabo “canyon”, which proved to be not a whole lot more than a few hundred foot drop off the side of the trail. A bit disappointed, we turned around and saw this:

Oh. NOW I get it.

That view all by itself made the hike worthwhile.

Lor did insist on taking a photo to prove I was actually outdoors, and not hunkered in front of my PC writing or gaming.

The Downhill Slope

I admit, the view from the ridgeline where we turned to head back down made me really, really wish I owned something other than a cellphone camera.

However, I couldn’t help but notice that MapMyWalk had not announced that we had reached the second mile of our hike yet. As we turned to head back downhill, finally it told us we had arrived.

The remainder of the trail was much easier, actually following a Jeep trail downhill most of the way to the parking lot. We were actually a little disappointed to discover that the total hike was only 2.75 miles. We could have easily done twice that amount. We will take the other trail measurements from the Guide with a grain of salt from now on.

After-Action Report

The hike itself was awesome. I look back at some of the blog posts about hiking from this time last year and can only laugh at how much trouble I had completing a route that was less than a mile. Now, I almost hit 3 miles and was disappointed it wasn’t longer.

We do need to make some adjustments. We both have to get some real “hikers”. I almost killed myself several times scrambling downhill in my old beat-up running shoes. Better packs are a necessity too – mine kept sliding back off my shoulders due to having no way to clip the harness together across my chest. Cell phone coverage was spotty, so a GPS unit will need to be acquired before we do anything real dramatic. This hike we could always see the city, so we could have made it back to civilization easily. Deeper into the Sandias, that will no longer be the case.

Wants? I would love to get a couple of Camelbak packs that combine hydration units and storage space. And a real camera would be awesome. We also need to bulk up the outdoor “kit” with things like a small first aid box, insect repellant, and some matches and other basic survival gear. We also acquired a fresh bottle of sunscreen to add to the pack, after our old one proved to be less than effective.

Our first great adventure for the year is in the bag! I know this post has been a lot more image-filled than usual. Let me know if you think it was just too much, or if you’d like to see more of the same in the future. We want to do one trail a week for the rest of the Spring and Summer, leading up to La Luz in late Summer. Heck, I might even write something up about each of the trails and put it out in an e-book or something!

‘Cause, you know, I don’t have enough to do already.

Plotting Where To Head Next,

Jeremy

 

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