We’ve had so many back-to-back trips lately that there hasn’t been any time in over a month for us to plan a local hike in our favorite spots around Albuquerque. Today we finally had the time to get back out on familiar trails.
With all we’ve had going on, it felt good to have a day with nothing scheduled. We weren’t in a rush in the morning to make up our minds where to go or to get ourselves ready. Since it’s a short drive to get to the hiking trails on the east side of the Sandias, we decided to hike on the 10K Trail, maybe making a loop or just an out-and-back depending on how we felt.
What we failed to account for is that it is still the monsoon season around here, which means an afternoon thunderstorm can quickly build up in the mountains, while it’s still hot and sunny in town. And that’s exactly what happened. Our loop took us up to the North Crest for a nice overlook lunch spot, but as we turned around to head back we could see the dark clouds beginning to form.
We walked back on the Ellis Trail, which is not as forested as the 10K Trail. I was getting nervous on the exposed slopes when I began to see lightning and hear thunder. Fortunately, before the storm hit we had looped back to the 10K and were under cover of the trees. What surprised us the most was starting to see hailstones bouncing on the trail and then suddenly we were getting pounded by hail before it began to rain in earnest. Typical of storms around here, though, it didn’t last very long. In less than 20 minutes we were back to the car and the storm had stopped.
Driving back down the mountain the road was slick and white, covered with hail, looking like a winter storm had hit. The temperature had dropped to 52 degrees. Back in Albuquerque, which is only a 30-mile drive, the temperature was 94 degrees. It was hard to believe that just a short time before we had been wet and cold. It’s like a different world when you go from the desert up into the mountains. One of the best things about living here is how quickly you can go from one to the other. There’s nothing quite as refreshing as a hike in the mountains on a hot summer day, hailstorm and all. I’m thankful we finally had the time to get back on the trail.