Friday, October 8, 2010

Hike to Cole Spring PG via the Faulty Trail, 10/8/10

The pictures above are cellphone photos taken on my hike in the Sandias with Dorine on Friday, October 8, 2010.  It was the fall holiday for the Albuquerque Public Schools, so Dorine had the day off; however, since it was my "on" Friday, I had to use a vacation day.  I had long wondered about the condition of the Cole Spring Picnicground, possibly the prettiest such place in the Sandias, given that about eight or nine years ago, a landowner in the area had blocked off the road leading to the picnicground to vehicular access.  (This is a sore point for me: rather than force the issue with the landowner -- there had been public vehicular access to the picnicground for at least forty or fifty years prior to the landowner's action, leading to the conclusion that, if nothing else, a public right-of-way had been established by prescription -- or even share the costs of periodically grading the road, the U.S. Forest Service essentially rolled over.  The unofficial policy of the USFS seems to be that anything that reduces use and impact is, ipso facto, a good thing, even if it entails being metaphorically sodomized.  There's your government, hard at work protecting your interests!)

Our five-mile route to get to the picnicground avoided private land entirely -- we started at the South Crest Trailhead at Canyon Estates, hiking up to the southern terminus of the (lower) Faulty Trail and then going north several miles on the Faulty Trail to the streambed that marks the short descent into the picnicground.  My question about the state of the picnicground was answered immediately: the USFS hasn't made improvement one since the last (and only) time we had a family picnic there in roughly 1991.  In fact, it appears that the feds are allowing the picnicground to fall apart and fade back into the forest, as it is almost in ruins at this point.  Still, Dorine and I were able to enjoy a nice, quiet lunch there; I took my backpacking stove, and we heated up some soup and ate it with blueberry bagels with strawberry cream cheese.

As for the hike itself, it was manageable for me.  I let Dorine lead and set the pace the entire way -- thankfully, she doesn't walk as fast as Jimmy Romero or John Brewer -- and, apart from a couple of places, there is no sustained uphill hiking on the route we took.  In short, it was a beautiful ten-mile walk in the woods to and from one of the most picturesque places in the entire range, and I got to share it with Dorine.  The low-res photos above show (a) Dorine sitting at the dilapidated table at which we had our lunch, (b) one of the stone staircases from what was the parking lot to the lower level of the picnicground, and (c) me sitting on the extant outlet for the spring itself.

[Update 3/11/11: Here is a photo from the above-mentioned picnic we had at Cole Spring in ~1991.  It should be obvious why I rave about the place -- it is an awesome picnicground, or at least was at one time.]