Doug Goodman

Texas Horror Writer. Cadaver Dog Handler.

Doug's Blog

Trails 36 and 37: New Mexico's Enchantments

Posted by douggoodman on March 9, 2017 at 10:20 PM

Stop me if you’ve heard this one before…

Often I find that my writing and my hiking mirror each other. Recently, this seems very true. I have four books in various stages of editing, two for release and two of them books that I can’t seem to finish. On the other hand, last week in New Mexico I hiked two trails, but finished neither (for two very different reasons)…

I was doing outreach work in Albuquerque, so I of course wanted to take the opportunity to hike a few trails as part of my 42 Trails goal this year. I decided the best time to do this was my first day in Albuquerque. I’m sure I was a sight on the airline, dressed in a dirty old pair of hiking boots, worn out blue jeans, and one of my hiking t-shirts. After some internal debate, I decided on the Sandia Crest trail first. It was up in the mountains rising above Albuquerque. Now, I know it is cliché to call mountain views breathtaking and awe-inspiring. But there’s a reason for that. The Sandia Crest trail is a short, beautiful trail with awe-inspiring vistas of the desert floor beneath the mountains. Since that morning I woke up at 0-feet sea level and was now hiking around at ~10,500 feet above sea level, let me assure IT WAS BREATHTAKING. Sandia Crest made a great number 36. What made it even more exciting was the discovery of snow and ice at Sandia Crest! When I set out almost a year ago to hike 42 trails, I never thought hiking in snow would be in the works. Beaches, hills, swamps, and forests, sure. But snow? Not for this Houston boy…

When they named this trail the “Sandia Crest,” they weren’t mincing words. The half-mile loop teeters at the very edge of the Sandia mountains. And if that weren’t exhilarating enough, in winter, the trail is covered in ice that slopes out and away…and off the mountain. In parts, a brick ledge would save you from being flung over the mountainside, but in other parts, nothing more than a chain link fence (without a bottom rail, I might add) and the grace of God keeps you on top of the mountain. It is definitely a crampon-and-sticks trail, which I was not equipped for. Using the STOP method that I had discussed with Cub Scouts the previous week (Stop, Think, Observe, and Plan), I decided the best route for my safety was to turn around and head back to the car…

By the Way, the road to the Sandia Crest is worth the trip alone, even if you don’t get out at the top of the mountain. It’s a winding, twisting corridor of beauty. So my heart was not heavy as I drove through this mesermizing, transplanted landscape. Picture it: in the middle of a desert, I was driving through blowing snow in the pines. Like I was in a winter Range Rover commercial, except I was driving a little Hyundai Sonata. What a wonderful place New Mexico is! I was slightly exhausted, but mostly thrilled with the little adventure I’d just had. So I drove back into the desert and visited the Petroglyphs National Monument in Albuquerque. I wanted to hike through one of the canyons and see the petroglyphs. Like a good hiker, though, first I checked in at the visitor center. There, the rangers advised me NOT to complete the trail. I thought they were crazy, but I listened. They suggested hiking the far side of the looped trail because it was closer to the canyon’s escarpment, a.k.a., the petroglyphs. They then suggested turning around at the end of the canyon, walking back up the trail the way I’d come. If I did that, I would see even more petroglyphs! (I did.) The rest of the loop crossed open grassland, which would have taken me away from the glyphs!

So two trails, two incompletes, but two of the best trails I’ve hiked in the past year. Once again, I’m reminded that each trail is an adventure with something new to see, whether it is snow over the desert or ancient Pueblo arts.

Now if I can just get a book out…


Categories: 42 Trails

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