Sunday, September 4, 2011

Chimney Canyon/La Luz Trail Hike,
September 3, 2011

The route -- more or less clockwise from upper left
John Brewer and I went hiking on Saturday, September 3, 2011. We chose what has become an overly ambitious hike for me, going up the bottom part of the La Luz Trail to the mouth of Chimney Canyon, then up the Chimney Canyon Route to Sandia Crest, then down the La Luz Trail to our starting point. John and I did fine on the first part of the hike, chatting about work and other matters; however, once in Chimney Canyon proper, I became progressively worn-out, to the point where, on the steepest parts of the trail, I was taking fifteen steps at a time and having to rest in between. We still made pretty good time for old men, reaching the Crest in roughly four-and-a-quarter hours total; however, by the time we reached the gift shop, where we stopped and ate (I had the $3.50 hot dog + chips and a $2.00 can of soda), I literally felt like I couldn't have walked another hundred feet. The rest reinvigorated me to the point where I felt like I could manage the hike down the La Luz, but, though we took every major shortcut that I'm familiar with -- including the long one that bypasses most of the lower switchbacks -- it still took us three more hours to reach the bottom La Luz trailhead. It doesn't seem that long ago that I could hike up the La Luz Trail to Sandia Crest, and fairly comfortably, in three hours; now I'm reduced to hiking down in that time (although, admittedly, the hike up Chimney Canyon was extremely taxing and clearly took a lot out of me).  I also don't recover nearly as quickly as I once did.  I can't say I'll never hike up Chimney Canyon again, but, if I do, I suspect I'll either make arrangements to be picked up at the Crest or else hike over to the the Sandia Peak Tramway and ride it down!