When we planned a hike Monday on the east side of the Sandias I expected there might be some snowy spots on the trail. Here in the Rio Grande valley earlier snowfalls are long gone and there isn’t even any snow visible when we look up at the mountain peak. But I’ve learned that on the north facing slopes piles of snow can linger amongst the trees even after a long spell of warm sunny days. It was warm and sunny for our Monday hike and, although there was quite a bit of snow, we were fine with just our usual hiking boots and winter jackets.
The hike we did yesterday was the hike that caught me unprepared for snow covered trails. We would be in the desert badlands area of the San Juan Basin, where we have hiked before, and I always think of those hikes as tromping around in the sand and scrub, nowhere near snowy mountain slopes. But what I forget is that when you drive the 60 miles from here to Cuba, New Mexico, you are going from 5000 feet elevation to over 7000 feet. It is further north and on the Colorado Plateau and the weather can be quite different from the Rio Grande Valley.
There hadn’t been any recent snowfalls but it was obvious when we got out of the car to begin the hike that there had been a lot of snow at some point and it hadn’t yet melted. It was a warm day but with just my regular hiking boots by the time we finished the hike my feet were freezing cold and soaking wet. It was a small price to pay, though, for the pleasure of viewing the many interesting rock formations made even more striking by the whiteness of the snow patches.