Winter Break

It only takes one day of warmer-than-normal temperatures for me to forgot all my complaints about winter weather in Albuquerque. The hike that we picked yesterday was a good one for making the most out of the break from the cold. Three Gun Spring Trail is on a south-facing slope of the Sandias, capturing the sun’s warmth, which is then held in by the surrounding canyon walls. The leftover snow on the trail at the higher elevations was no hindrance for walking and the snow that we could see on the northern slopes in the distance added extra beauty to the scenery.

Promise of a good hiking trail and the return of New Mexico blue skies.
Promise of a good hiking trail and the return of New Mexico blue skies.

Looking south at snow on northern slopes of Manzanitos.
Looking south at snow on northern slopes of Manzanitos.
Some leftover snow on Three Gun Spring Trail at higher elevations.
Some leftover snow on Three Gun Spring Trail at higher elevations.
Intersection with Embudo Trail.  A short trip down this trail brought us to our lunch spot.
Intersection with Embudo Trail. A short trip down this trail brought us to our lunch spot.
Nothing like a rocky outcrop overlooking the city for a good lunch spot.
Nothing like a rocky outcrop overlooking the city for a good lunch spot.
Looking west at Albuquerque and Mt. Taylor in the distance.
Looking west at Albuquerque and Mt. Taylor in the distance.

Looking south at Interstate 40 where it passes through Tijeras Canyon.
Looking south at Interstate 40 where it passes through Tijeras Canyon.

Three Gun Spring is not a new trail for us. In fact, it’s one of the very first trails we ever hiked in the Albuquerque area, during our 2-week stay here in 2012 when we were traveling the US, trying to decide where we wanted to live. As we hiked it once again yesterday, it was a reminder of all that drew us to this area in the first place and a promise of the good things yet to come as we continue to wander and wonder our way through New Mexico’s beauty and enchantment.

Has Spring Sprung?

cactus

For me, the sign that spring has arrived here in the desert will be when the cacti begin to bloom. It’s almost here, as you can see from the beginnings of blossoms on this cactus that we saw while hiking yesterday. As I said to Lee, I would sure like to be on this trail in a couple of weeks when it is in full bloom. This variety has large, beautiful red flowers that are even more striking because they are on a prickly cactus that looks barely alive.

If we did decide to go back in another week or so to see the cactus again, we would have a hard time finding the place where we took the picture. We started the hike from a trailhead that we have passed a number of times on the way to other hikes, but it was not a marked trail and led us into a part of the Sandia foothills that we had not yet hiked.
There were many trails branching off in all different directions once we climbed up and over the first ridge. We had been trying to follow directions for a hike that the seniors do here, but within the first mile we realized that we had wandered off from what their hike described. With many different trails and no trail markings or named trails, a GPS device would be needed and we didn’t have that.

But we did have lots of viewpoints and Albuquerque landmarks visible around us so there was no danger of us getting lost. We may not have walked the same path as the hike description, but we thoroughly enjoyed the terrain that we covered. I was looking forward to comparing the GPS track I was creating using the Every Trail app on my phone to the GPS track on the ASCHG track. Unfortunately, at the end of the hike I fumbled with the phone and accidentally deleted the track that I had made.

I was upset that I deleted my track, but in doing a web search for more information on Juan Tabo Canyon, I came across an Every Trail posting that another hiker did for this hike. It’s interesting to compare the pictures posted there to some of the same views we had. The Every Trail posting was in early February. What a difference 6 weeks can make. The signs of spring were everywhere up there yesterday. We may not find that same cactus in 2 weeks but I’m confident we will find others arrayed in all their springtime glory.

Start of the trail as it leaves parking area and heads into the Sandia foothills.
Start of the trail as it leaves parking area and heads into the Sandia foothills.

View to the south from the first ridge.  Our car is in the bottom right corner of the photo.
View to the south from the first ridge. Our car is in the bottom right corner of the photo.
Saw quite a few of these pretty white flowers but couldn't identify them.
Saw quite a few of these pretty white flowers but couldn’t identify them.
Hiking upward.
Hiking upward.
Purple wildflowers.
Purple wildflowers.
Downtown Albuquerque visible through the mouth of Juan Tabo Canyon.
Downtown Albuquerque visible through the mouth of Juan Tabo Canyon.
North Sandias.  Rocky knob is called the Needle.
North Sandias. Rocky knob is called the Needle.
Crest of the Sandia Mountains with radio towers on top.
Crest of the Sandia Mountains with radio towers on top.
Wildflower called 'Perky Sue'
Wildflower called ‘Perky Sue’
View from our lunch spot.
View from our lunch spot.
View of Manzano Mountains to the south.
View of Manzano Mountains to the south.