Monday, September 28, 2015

Tourist time: New Mexico day 2

Since I was spending an extra day in New Mexico, I rented a car so that I could wander around on Monday. I checked into my hotel and picked up a few tourist pamphlets from the lobby to try to figure out what I wanted to do. I knew I wanted to check out Route 66, but that was the only specific thing on my agenda. 

Monday morning, I had decided to check out the singing road and take the scenic route towards Santa Fe. It was interesting and I could definitely hear it, though I wouldn't recommend going out of your way just to drive that section of the highway.

My next stop was Sandia Mountain. Originally I was going to take the tram to the top, but I ended up just driving up to the top and then hiking a few of the trails. The summit is 10,378' and the views are simply amazing. I spent some time just sitting there looking at the surrounding city. 


The mountains don't extend very far, but you can see for miles. When I was sitting up there, I could understand why people do paragliding and base jumping. From the top you feel like you could fly forever. 


After hike around the summit trails, I headed to the Kasha Katuwe Tent Rocks. It took me awhile to get there, and by the time I did there were some storm clouds brewing, but they were still in the distance and it was only a couple mile hike, so I grabbed a water bottle and headed onto the trails.


I passed quite a few people coming back who were surprised that I was starting out my hike, but I told them I would go as far as I could while the storm held out. At first, the trail is wide open and slowly gets more and more narrow as you climb into the rocks.


Some of the sections got really narrow and you had to climb over rocks to continue on the trail. It was about this time, when I could still hear thunder in the distance, that I thought this would not be a good area to get caught in if it really started to rain. 


I made it about half a mile from the end of the trail before it started to rain / hail and the lightning got a lot closer, so I decided it wasn't worth it to keep going and I turned around. I passed quite a few people who were hiding out under some of the rock ledges, but given the rain storms that came through Angel Fire on Friday and Saturday, I wasn't willing to risk sticking around. 

As I got back to the wider section of trail, the thunder backed off and as I came to a fork in the trail, I decided to take the opposite way from where I had come since they both lead back to the parking lot and the new way was only .2 miles longer. Within a few minutes, the rain and hail were done and the sun came back out again, but I didn't want to retrace my steps, so I just kept going and enjoyed the new views.



One of the reasons I wanted to check out this section of the trail was because there was supposed to be a "hole in the cliff" interest point. This was certainly an aptly named attraction.


I also came across one of only a handful of cacti that I had seen my entire time in New Mexico. I had (erroneously) assumed that the New Mexico landscape would be similar to Arizona and there would be cacti everywhere, but they were few and far between.


Eventually, I made it to the tent rocks and just before I did, the rain and hail came back with a vengeance, so I snapped a few quick pictures and then turned my hike into a trail run back to the car.


yes, all that white stuff in the picture is hail

After the tent rocks, I made my way back to Albuquerque and spent the rest of my night grabbing some food and re-packing all my stuff for my next adventure in Oregon.

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