There’s Something Fishy Here

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My feet are soaking in the refreshing waters of McCauley Warm Springs. There are some strange-looking black things over my toes and surrounding my feet in the water. Those are tiny little minnows that were swarming in the pools at the spring. Not only did the water sooth my tired hiking feet, but I also got tickling massages as the curious fish nibbled my toes!

There’s been nothing fishy about the spectacular weather that has accompanied us this week on our outings. Some might complain that the temperatures are too hot, but Monday and today our hikes were in the mountains, where it’s at least 10 degrees cooler than Albuquerque. And yesterday we rode the Rail Runner Express up to Santa Fe, which also is cooler than Albuquerque.

Monday we explored the crest of the Sandia Mountains, which are immediately to the east of Albuquerque. Today we drove into the western edge of the Jemez Mountains, which are north of Albuquerque, but not as close as the Sandias.

After driving as far as the boundary of the Valles Caldera, with a stop at Soda Dam, we backtracked to the Battleship Rock Picnic Area. Beneath this towering rock formation, the East Fork Jemez River and San Antonio Creek converge to form the Jemez River. A two-mile hike up the East Fork leads to McCauley Warm Springs, which was the destination for our hike today. We had never been on this trail before and didn’t realize that it was 2 miles of continuous uphill. But the girls trudged right along and didn’t complain at all. Our efforts were rewarded when we reached the refreshing spring. And we knew that it would then be all downhill to get back to the car.

Behind us is Soda Dam, a large deposit of calcium carbonate that has built up from a spring that bubbles to the surface.
Behind us is Soda Dam, a large deposit of calcium carbonate that has built up from a spring that bubbles to the surface. Jemez River to our right as it flows under the dome.
A stop along the way on our drive through the Jemez Mountains.
A stop along the way on our drive through the Jemez Mountains.
That's one heck of a big cottonwood tree!
That’s one heck of a big cottonwood tree!
Our destination on the East Fork Trail.
Our destination on the East Fork Trail.
View of Battleship Rock
View of Battleship Rock

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We continue to come across wildflowers that we can't identify.
We continue to come across wildflowers that we can’t identify.
Some tall trees.
Some tall trees.
One of the pools at McCauley Warm Springs.
One of the pools at McCauley Warm Springs.

Absolute-Lee Back in the Bike Business

Proud owner of Fuji Absolute 2.1
Proud owner of Fuji Absolute 2.1

After being without a set of wheels since the day several months ago when his bike was stolen, Lee finally found the bike that was right. He is now the proud owner of a Fuji Absolute 2.1.

Before the wind kicked up this morning we went out for a bike ride–the maiden voyage for Lee’s Fuji, with me following behind on my trusty Specialized. We headed for one of our favorite bike trails, the North Diversion Channel Trail. Our turnaround point was on Lomas Boulevard, where the trail ends at the edge of the University of New Mexico campus. Lee spotted a Donut Mart down the street and we headed that way. I thought the label on the bag that the clerk put our purchase in was appropriate: “You Deserve a Donut.”

If you look at the map of our ride you see that it was 10 miles to get to the campus, and since we made it a round trip, it was a 20 mile bike ride. Also, on the map you can see how the bike trail crosses and then parallels Interstate-40, near what’s known as the “Big-I” because it’s the intersection of Interstate-40 and Interstate-25. It’s one of the sections of the trail I especially like because it makes you feel like you’re flying right above one of the busiest parts of the city.  The “Big-I” is in the background of the picture above, although it’s hard with a phone camera to capture the panoramic view.

We got home before the wind got too strong and before it got too hot.  To get prepared for our planned bike ride in August, though, we are going to have to quit trying to avoid the heat!  Now that we both have bikes, let the training begin.

Why It’s Important to Preview a Hike

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I was invited today to tag along with 3 leaders from the Albuquerque Senior Centers’ Hiking Groups on a hike in the San Pedro Parks Wilderness Area. One of the ladies was scheduled to lead the hike there next week. She was not familiar with the trail, but she knew that Sue was familiar with the area and could also give her some pointers on how to use her GPS device. Driving to the trailhead, about 10 miles from our destination parking spot, we encountered the above sign. We knew right away that it had been a wise decision to preview the hike the week before the senior’s group with a van full of unsuspecting hikers would run into this roadblock.

The leaders put their heads together and consulted their Santa Fe National Forest map and came up with an alternate plan. We did some backtracking and found another trailhead that is used by the group on other hikes. Not only did we get a beautiful 7.5-mile hike out of the deal, but the leader collected the GPS data, the driving data, and a hike description that can be used to create a new hike for the seniors to do in this area.

I was amazed at how green everything was in the surrounding forests and meadows. The wildflowers were out in abundance. A couple of times we could hear the sounds of a nearby elk herd, and at one point, we even spotted a couple of mothers and their calves at the edge of a meadow making their way up a wooded slope. I’m thankful that I was invited to tag along and learn about this part of the Santa Fe National Forest. Lee and I will definitely be adding this to our list of wonderful hiking opportunities in the Albuquerque area.
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violets
violets

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shooting star
shooting star

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burnt orange dandelion
burnt orange dandelion
iris
iris
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Our turnaround point at the Rio De Las Vacas where we sat by the stream and had our lunch.

GPS Track on Every Trail

How to Beat the Desert Heat

We knew that if we picked a hike at a higher elevation we would beat the record-setting heat we’ve had this week here in Albuquerque. But we didn’t expect that we’d have to tromp through leftover snowbanks, sometimes sinking down to our knees in snow, to reach our chosen destination, the top of Deception Peak.

The start of this hike is at the Santa Fe Ski Area and when we parked the car we could look up at the slopes and see a few patches of leftover snow. But by the time that the trail winds its way up Raven’s Ridge you are on the backside of the mountain and in an area of dense trees not reached by enough sunlight to have yet melted the deeper snowbanks. We could avoid some of the snow by finding alternate trails but, at times, when we looked ahead and saw even larger piles we wondered if we’d have to turn around.

But we kept going. Before getting to the top the trail emerges from the trees and at that point, where there is another half mile or so of ascent over a bare, rocky slope, there wasn’t any more snow to contend with. Once we enjoyed lunch and the glorious views from the top it didn’t seem so bad on the way down to go back through the snow again. Especially since we knew that when we got back to Albuquerque the temperature would be well over 90 degrees. It’s so amazing that you can live here in the desert and then with a little over an hour of driving, combined with 3 miles of hiking, you can be playing in the snow.

View of Santa Fe Baldy to the north from partway up the trail.
View of Santa Fe Baldy to the north from partway up the trail.
An overlook on the way up.  Looking west towards Santa Fe.
An overlook on the way up. Looking west towards Santa Fe.
Start of some of the places where the snowbanks couldn't be avoided.
Start of some of the places where the snowbanks couldn’t be avoided.
A unique way to cool off your back after a sweaty climb.
A unique way to cool off your back after a sweaty climb.
Another view of Santa Fe Baldy.
Another view of Santa Fe Baldy.
Looking down at Nambe Lake.
Looking down at Nambe Lake.
Almost to the point where the tree line and snowbanks end before the final ascent on the rocky slope to Deception Peak.
Almost to the point where the tree line and snowbanks end before the final ascent on the rocky slope to Deception Peak.
Lunch break
Lunch break
The Santa Fe ski area is below in the bright green area.
The Santa Fe ski area is below in the bright green area.
Tiny wildflowers growing at 12,000 foot elevation.
Tiny wildflowers growing at 12,000 foot elevation.
Examining a rare bristlecone pine that grows just at the edge of the tree line.
Examining a rare bristlecone pine that grows just at the edge of the tree line.
Makes you feel like you are on top of the world.
Makes you feel like you are on top of the world.

GPS track on Every Trail