Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Hike to Nowhere and Everywhere, 5/28/12

Looking back down the Three Gun Spring Trail
At the "Eye of the Sandias," after all the toil
Looking back at the "Eye" from a distance
The route, starting from the lower right and coming back around to the lower left
Yesterday, on Memorial Day, John Brewer and I took an unusual hike in the Sandia Mountains.  I'd been thinking about routes for hikes for some time, and, when neither of us wanted to spend an entire day hiking on the Monday holiday, I suggested an offbeat route that (a) started on the lower part of the Three Gun Spring Trail, where I hadn't been in twenty-plus years, (b) covered trail-less ground where I had never been, and (c) passed by the "Eye of the Sandias," which John had never seen.  We were able to accomplish the hike, although, because much of the route devolved into bushwhacking and boulder-hopping, it took longer -- and was more of a physical challenge -- than I'd expected.  At 7:30 am, Dorine dropped John and me off at the Three Gun Spring Trailhead, which is north of the Monticello Estates subdivision in Tijeras Canyon.  Right off the bat I was having mild difficulties, which got worse once we hit the steep switchbacks that climb up to the head of the canyon.  Then we went down the top of the Embudo Trail to the cut-off to Post Pass, a prominent saddle in the ridge, which was the beginning of a couple of miles of off-trail scrambling, entailing much elevation change (up and down), our passing through a lot of very abrasive vegetation, and our having to negotiate quite a few large granite outcrops.  With the help of John's GPS and my knowledge of the rough location of the "Eye," we were finally able to get on the correct ridge, which describes a fairly well-traveled trail, even if there was no clear route through the steep, boulder-strewn peak just northeast of the "Eye."  Once we found the "Eye," however, it was an easy matter to hike down to the car we'd left at the east end of Copper Avenue, although my lower back took a pounding that I'm feeling pretty acutely today.  The entire hike took about 5 1/2 hours total, and we spent over three hours of that time on the segment between Post Pass and the "Eye" (see map).

I don't know if we'll be able to do any of the longer hikes this summer that I've thought about, but it was nice to do something over the long weekend.

[Update 2/24/13: Here are two views from Google Earth showing a larger view of the terrain covered by this hike and a fairly close-up view of the boulder patch where the "Eye" is located:.]