One of the things we enjoy about living in Albuquerque is the view of the Sandia Mountains to the east of the city. There are two major summits: Sandia Crest at 10,678 feet and South Sandia Peak at 9700 feet. We have been to the Crest many times, since it is accessible by road from the east side of the mountains, by the tram from the west side, and by several hiking trails we have done at various times. South Sandia Peak is not as accessible.
The only way to get to South Sandia Peak is by hiking. There are several trail routes that will get you there, but none of them are easy. From our apartment on the west side it is the South Sandia Peak that we can see; the Crest is out of our viewpoint. So always looking at South Sandia Peak from our windows and knowing that we hadn’t yet made it up there, was a challenge we knew we had to meet. Today we finally did the 11-mile hike on the Embudito Trail that got us to the 9700 foot summit.
The trailhead starts at 6200 feet, which means over 3000 feet of elevation gain in the 5.5 miles it takes to get to the top. Thankfully, we got an early enough start in the day, as it ended up taking us 8 hours to go up and back. The middle of June could have meant a sweltering day, but the weather cooperated. By the time the morning started to warm up we were in the shaded, forested part of the hike. In the afternoon, on the way back down, when we reached the lower elevations where it is more open and can get pretty hot, a thunderstorm moved across the city and we benefited from the clouds and cool breezes. We didn’t even put on our rain jackets when we started to get wet because it felt so good to get cooled off and there was only a short distance back to the car.
I’m glad that we finally bagged South Sandia Peak, but I don’t think it’s a hike I will be anxious to do again anytime soon. 11 miles is a lot of hiking to do for one day!