Monday, September 22, 2008

Bishops Lodge Trail

I went to Santa Fe last weekend to hang out with Talia and go hiking. We started the day at the REI grand opening from which I purchased a pair of trekking poles. Although REI is a great store, I'm always blown away at the prices of some of the gear there. Some companies are VERY proud of their products. But, being the grand opening, I was able to get a nice discount on the poles.

We drove to Bishop's Lodge which is a pretty plush resort northeast of town. It sits on old ranch property and has been inhabited by several bishops over the years, the first one living there in the 1850's. There are several trails around the property and we decided to take a 5 mile loop. Unfortunately, the trail crossed a road at one point and we couldn't find the trail on the other side for about 20 minutes. We walked down the road very frustrated and when we didn't know what else to do, we walked back to where the trail met the road in the first place. On the way back, we stumbled across the trail, a little embarassed.

The trail climbs to a small peak above the Lodge with great views in all directions. It has been travelled so much over the decades, that it is really more of a trench than a trail. But that sure made it easy to find. We then walked around the hill back to the lodge - a total of over 6 miles.

9/13/08 - Bishops Lodge/Big Tesuque Creek
Length - 6+ miles
Elevation - 7,100-7,800
Grade - easy, briefly steep in spots
Scenery - B+, good along the creek, the high point had 360 degree views of the Jemez, Sandia, and Santa Fe mountains
Overall - the deep trench-like trail made for interesting hiking in some spots, the shaded creek was a cool retreat from the higher trails, the back side was not well marked but was easy to follow

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Meet Up Group

I joined a hiking group through the web site and tonight was my first hike with a group. There are over 400 people in the group, but 10 of us met tonight to hike along the bosque (pronounced boss-key) which is the land on either side of the river. It was supposed to be about 8 miles, but for some reason the leader cut the hike short so we only walked about 3 miles. The people were pretty nice and it was good to hike with other people for a change. I keep reading in all my books that you shouldn't hike alone. That is partly the reason I joined this group. It is hard to find hikes that I can participate in because of when they are scheduled, and many of them are well beyond my abilities, but I'll try to attend as many as possible.

The bosque has the most plant life in Albuquerque so the hike went through plenty of brush and plants, but it is also full of sand because of it's proximity to the river. That was not my favorite, but the dirt roads made for easy hiking.

Along the trails are some sculptures made by local artists out of dead trees. They carved several of the trees into amazing shapes of animals and people. These two are of a roadrunner and lizard, and a forest firefighter and dragon. Pretty impresive.

9/9/08 - Hike along the Bosque ****
Length - approx. 3 miles
Elevation - approx. 5,000
Grade - none, level land next to the Rio Grande
Scenery - B+, plenty of plant life and the setting sun made for good views and photos
Overall - very nice hike with great people, brush was thick in some places and the sand was difficult to hike through, but overall very pleasing

Sunday, September 7, 2008

Trail Logs

One thing I've picked up and am really starting to cultivate, is my love for hiking. Good thing I live near mountains! I hope to use this blog as a way to keep track of where I've hiked and what I've discovered. I am using a book, Sandia Mountain Hiking Guide, to find all the good trails and I hope to get through all the hikes sometime next year starting with the easiest. I went on a few this weekend. Here are the details.

9/6/08 - Sulphur Canyon Trail - **
Length - 0.8 mile
Elevation - 7,420-7,620
Grade - easy/moderate
Scenery - C-, none due to thick tree coverage
Overall - short and sweet, plenty of shade

9/6/08 - Bill Spring Trail - ***
Length - 1.4 miles
Elevation - 7,400-7,720
Grade - easy, nice gentle rise
Scenery - C, only one big look of Highway 536 due to thick tree coverage
Overall - rocky, but plenty of shade and easy elevation gain, I went past the end of the trail another 0.25 mile to the intersection of the Oso Corredor and the Faulty Trails. It was steep, but more fulfilling because of the difficulty. This view is from up the hill on the Faulty Trail.

9/6/08 - Balsam Glade Nature Trail - ***
Length - 0.6 mile
Elevation - 8,620-8,660
Grade - very easy, benches and information signs along the way
Scenery - A-, great overlook at end of the trail of the East Mountains, Paako golf course, and the Sandia Ski Area
Overall - well maintained simple path to a fantastic view on the edge of a cliff
After hiking on the Bill Spring Trail, a forest ranger stopped me to ask a couple questions. Then he told me that the Sulphur Springs Trail was closed due to bear sightings. I didn't see any bears, but just the possibility of spotting a black bear was pretty exciting.

Why Albuquerque?

So you might have thought at some point, why Albuquerque? Well, to be honest, when I decided I wanted to move, I knew I wanted some place that was poles apart from Missouri. I didn't have a problem with Missouri, but if I was going to move, then the new place needed to be really different.

Somehow, I narrowed it down to Portland, OR or Albuquerque, NM. I had friends in both places and the deciding factor was actually the proximity to the mountains, and the desert climate of NM that won me over. Little did I know that this place sucks you in. New Mexico is called The Land of Enchantment, but many people joke that it is The Land of Entrapment because it is very easy to fall in love with this place. I have met many people who are transplants like myself and they say the same thing. Although I chose to move here, some came against their will, because of a job or other reasons, but it doesn't take long for most to agree that this is a special place. Between the mountains, the history (Native American and otherwise), the dry and warm climate, and of course the food, New Mexico is my kind of place.

The Sandia mountains are right next door to Albuquerque and you can walk into them from anywhere in town in about 20 minutes, or you can drive into them and to the top in less than an hour. Plus, northern New Mexico has some of the most stunning mountains around, nothing that you would expect when you think of the Southwest. Just take a look at one picture from near the Santa Fe ski area (yes, there are several ski areas in NM). Even on a cloudy day, the mountains are spectacular. I have plenty of pictures of the Sandias too, but they will come later.

As for the climate, this desert is nothing like you would expect. It doesn't get as hot as say, Phoenix. In fact, it rarely hits 100 degrees. And with little to no humidity, the temperature is just warm but not miserable. The only thing is that since we are at over 5,000 feet, you have to be careful with sun exposure because you can get cooked pretty quickly.

Food. What can I say? You've never had Mexican food until you've had New Mexican food. Chile is the specialty. Red, green, chopped, roasted, sauce, stew. On eggs, burritos, pizza, and burgers, etc. You will find chile on or in more foods than you would think is possible or appetizing. But trust me, once you start eating chile, you can't stop. There are rumors that chile is addictive. I am proof that the rumors are true.

Catching up

How do you catch the public up on 6 years of adventures? I have no idea. But I'll do my best. I'm not going to recount every little detail. Mainly because I don't remember them all. But I do have several pictures on my computer so that should spark some fond memories. So let's get started.

I moved to Albuquerque in September 2002 with several intentions in mind. The main one, to do new things with new people. I can honestly say that I have accomplished that, however, it took me a little while. I don't have many pictures from the first couple years, but I didn't do much except work anyway. Mom and Dad came to see me in October of 2005 and I had a new digital camera so I did get to take a few photos of that visit.
From the top of the tram (, in the early evening, it's hard to get a good view of Albuquerque, but basically, it is a medium sized city (about 700,000) that is spread out in the high desert (about 5,000 feet). We are at the top of the Sandia mountains, just over 10,000 feet, looking down. One thing about the desert, the sunsets are phenomenal, as you can see. The peak is about 15-20 degrees cooler than the city, therefore the sweatshirts, jackets, and frozen look on Mom's face even in early October. If you look closely, you can see the cables for the tram in this next photo.

We went to the International Balloon Fiesta ( on two mornings and it is something I highly recommend for anyone coming this way. Hundreds of balloons, cool shapes and cool mornings make for one of the most unique events around. You get to walk around among the balloons as they fill up with air and take off. The officials that help launch the balloons really try to make a spectacle of themselves so that they will be taken seriously. Wouldn't you take these guys seriously?

First of many...

Something happens when you move 800 miles from your family and friends. They start to wonder what you are doing with yourself. Well, after 6 years, many escapades, and consistent requests for photos of my exploits, I guess it is about time I answer my fans, and make use of this Internet thing. So without further adieu, here goes.

Periodically, I will post some of my favorite quotes to express my feelings towards various topics. I figured I should start by posting one that shows who I really am and, well, says plenty about me.

"I stand in awe of my body." Henry David Thoreau

Feel free to agree.