Friday, August 22, 2008

Hiking Again - North Crest Trail

John Brewer and I were finally able to go hiking again today in the Sandia Mountains. This time we went and hiked the North Crest Trail, which starts at Tunnel Spring, in the Placitas area at the northern end of the range, and ends at Sandia Crest. I knew from my experience in 2005, the last time I hiked North Crest, that it was both a long (12+ miles) and a deceptively difficult trail; nonetheless, John and I decided to start our hike by taking the more-difficult-still variant trail up Cañón del Horno, which cuts off at least two miles from the route. I had last gone up Cañón del Horno in 1990, when we took my mother-in-law Rhea Wilson (who was then dying of pancreatic cancer) up to Tunnel Spring to get some of the reputedly "healing" spring water. Being eighteen or nineteen years older now, I wasn't certain what to expect, and sure enough, the Cañón del Horno trail was steep and energy-sapping, making the rest of the hike seem quite a bit more difficult; it was also a sunny and hot day, and the heat didn't make things any easier. However, as I've said before, any day spent hiking in the Sandias is a good day, and I had a great time overall.

We had some difficulty working out the logistics, but ultimately we decided to take two cars, leave one at the bottom Tram terminus, then drive around to Tunnel Spring and leave the second car there. We'd hike beyond the Crest all the way to the upper Tram terminus, then take the Tram down to get the first car, and finally drive back out to Tunnel Spring to fetch the second car. Everything went more or less to plan, although we were gone a couple of hours longer than we'd originally anticipated.

I decided to wear my Vasque trail runners on the hike instead of hiking boots, and they worked even better than I expected. Not an ounce of foot pain at the end!

The top photo shows John and me shortly before we boarded the Tram at the upper terminus; the second shows me at one of the overlooks on the trail; and the third shows me on a typical stretch of the trail.