Thursday, January 3, 2013

Let's hike, let's trek, let's see nature the way it's let

Southern sun over the Missouri River, from bluffs west of St. Louis

Life is like a river, whether shallow or deep, short or long, held back or head strong. There is only one.

Erosion and expansion near the mouth of Tijeras Canyon, Albuquerque
There is a place in my life for romanticism, just as there is a place for existentialism. I don’t know that I visit these places as often as I visit other isms, but I do just fine.

Southern Sandias, near one of the ridge trails leading to Eye of the Sandias
Is there an ism for getting one’s body and one’s mind in an increasingly fit state? If so, I’m exploring that ism.

Saguaro Sunset over Tuscon, from Saguaro National Park East
Truth be told, I’m a Mojave Joshua Tree, a desert away from the dance promised to me in the Sonoran by my partner in crime-fighting, Saguaro.

Mojave Joshua Tree looms in the direction of the Sonoran, Ryan Mountain

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

An afternoon in the Southern Sandia Foothills, Tijeras Canyon Open Space

Today I went on a short hike in the Tijeras Canyon Open Space, from the Camino de la Sierra trailhead in the southeast portion of the Supper Rock neighborhood to the "new cactus", a 30-foot agave plant sculpted from what look like shiny missile shells, located on the north side of Interstate 40 at the base of a large hill near the mouth of Tijeras Canyon.

The Tin Agave along Route 66, Tijeras Canyon Open Space, Carnuel, NM
The hill is probably just a half mile from the trailhead. I parked along Sierra, and from there I took the path with trail signage pointing to the intersection of the Foothills Trail (#365), which leads north toward the Copper Trailhead and south, to a random point along the interstate, where it just stops. I crossed the 365 and traversed a narrow alluvial plane composed of the eroding South Mountain Foothills, my sites set on hiking the snowy north-facing side of a large hill that that stood before me in the distance, remarkably back-dropped by the Manzanita Mountains and capped with a dropping afternoon sun.

The views from the top of that worn down yet still majestic mound begged me to scramble down its sun-drenched, boulder-strewn southern slope. At my weight, my impact on the environment is greater than so-called normal weight folks. But fortunately, I can count on built-up core strength - from my intensive 2010 medicine ball workouts and tons of 2012 hiking to keep me on solid ground, even in scree or talus zones. Always considering Leave No Trace ethics, I carefully avoided sections of trail labeled "closed for re-vegetation" and stepped mindfully to avoid uprooting the dry high desert grasses with my sometimes clumsy feet.

Looking east toward Albuquerque from Tijeras Canyon Open Space
Scrambling up and down boulder fields gives a rush of adrenaline which, mixed with the endorphins released from sustained aerobic activity, is like taking a big breath of happy gas. And after each hairy bouldering maneuver, I'd analyze my next move as I gazed at the views in all directions - To the west, and the high speed crawl toward downtown Albuquerque, to the south, across the southern expanse of Rio Grande Valley where mountain-dotted horizon meets silver-lined burnt-winter sky, to the east, where the highway disappears under the Rt. 66 overpass heading into Carnuel, and to the north, at the fallen rock landscape of steep slopes hiding the Eye of the Sandias on its perch high above the canyon. The experience was just this side of overwhelming. Thank goodness, because it was really the perfect amount of whelm.

Southern Sandia Foothills, Tijeras Canyon Open Space, Tin Agave Hike

For me, it was the last hike of 2012. Here's a pic of today's short but still epic hike. Stay tuned for more hiking in 2013! You'll find more hiking posts on my goals blog Man of Merit and my hiking blog HikeyHikey.