|First two-thirds of the hike|
|Last one-third of the hike|
For the first time in nearly three years, John Brewer and I went hiking together in the Sandia Mountains on Friday, June 19, 2015. Once more John let me pick what inevitably became an over-ambitious route; I wanted to go to South Sandia Peak again, although I couldn't bear the thought of hiking up one of the trails on the west face of the Sandias. I also thought it would be cool to do another "traverse" of the mountain, so I suggested going up Bart's Trail on the east side of the mountain, south on the Crest Trail to South Peak, and then down the entire length of the Embudito Trail.
The big problem, as it turned out, was that the same landowner who, around 2001, gated Cole Spring Road, closing it off to vehicular passage (to both the Cole Spring Picnicground and the trailhead for Bart's Trail and the Canoncito Trail), has now put up a barrier much further down the road and posted the entire road off-limits to "trespassing." (I've written previously about my feelings concerning the Forest Service's acquiescence in the landowner's actions in 2001; if the government had taken the guy to court then for a declaratory judgment establishing a public right-of-way -- as it freaking well should have done -- this new crap probably wouldn't have happened.) Anyway, John and I decided, rather than to risk an altercation -- or being shot at, or whatever -- simply to have John's dad drop us off at the Cienega Canyon Picnicground, where we'd hike up to the Faulty Trail and then south to its intersection with Bart's Trail, whence we'd do the rest of the hike we'd planned. It probably added three miles to the overall hike, although at least they weren't difficult miles.
Bart's Trail is an enigma to me, not so much due to its origin or location, but the fact that people (including Mike Coltrin, the author of the current Sandia Mountain hiking guide), insist that Bart's is only 1.9 miles long from end to end. Is it steep? Yes. Does it take much longer to hike than a similar distance on a flatter trail like the Faulty Trail? Yes. But it also meanders a lot more than indicated on the topo map (attached) and appears to want to "top out" at least a dozen times before it actually does intersect the Crest Trail. All of that makes for a pretty disconcerting hike, especially when one adds on the rest of the Crest Trail segment to South Peak. Compounding things was the fact that it was a hot, sunny day; I'd brought three quarts of water, but that was at least one quart too little for my needs.
Finally, after what seemed like an eternity, we reached South Peak, which was almost anticlimactic. We rested up a little in the aspen grove on the back side of South Peak, then headed off for the Embudito Trail. I was wearing a new pair of Hi-Tec hiking boots, and, unfortunately, my toes were already screaming at me as we started the descent down to Oso Pass. The rest of the hike down to the lower Embudito trailhead was pretty torturous for my left big toe, preventing me from taking any joy in being on the Sandias. (One could guess that wearing new boots with poorly cushioned socks caused my toe issues; however, hiking boots these days typically don't require any break-in, and my boots definitely aren't oversized, so it remains a bit of a mystery. All I know is (a) that I'm going to lose my toenail shortly, and (b) that I will wear very thick socks with these boots from now on.)
Despite my travails, I'm ready to do more hiking, although I'm through with these murderous, all-day hikes. Two possible future routes that come to my mind are, one, up Agua Sarca Canyon and down Del Horno Canyon, and, two, up the Pino Trail and down the other side on the Cienega Canyon Trail.
|Me on the Crest Trail north of South Sandia Peak|