Sunday, 20 July 2014

At the top of the Sandia Mountains

We checked the weather, we wanted an almost wind free day to take the tram to the top of the Sandia Mountains.   Chilly, with next to no wind, sounded good to us, so off we went.   Especially as strong winds were forecast to hit Albuquerque over the following days.   Imagine being in a tram dangling on a wire half way up a mountain if the winds really started to blow, scary thought! 
From Bernalillo it’s an easy drive, we just hopped back on I25 took exit 234 and literally followed the road.   Our timing was good, as we arrived just in time to pay for our tickets and board the tram.
Arriving at the top
While chairlifts scare me to death, trams are just fine.   I know, it’s totally illogical but just being inside something reassures me, although my heart still skips a beat as they cross the pylons! 

Visibility was reasonably good and we could see for miles.  Right across Albuquerque, over to Santa Fe and out towards Shiprock, which we thought, we could just about make out through the binoculars.

Downtown Albuquerque

The tram climbs up 2 miles above sea level, when we reached the top we were at 10,687 ft and despite our trousers and fleeces it was absolutely, flippin’ freezing!   Even though there was a little snow in places, the ski runs were closed (I am still catching up as this was at the end of April) and there was an extremely cold breeze.   Sadly for us we were too early for the restaurant and the visitor centre was closed for renovation!

I walked along a short trail behind the restaurant and found the Crest Trail, which is only 1½ miles long, but it was so cold, that we didn’t consider hiking even part of it.   Besides which some people returning told us it was very muddy and slippery in places.

We admired the views and then decided that as there was no escape from the freezing wind we’d head back down.

Approaching the first pylon

On the way to the next pylon

Still a long way to go

The end is in sight

 Almost back on the ground

As it was still early we decided we’d drive up The Sandia Crest Scenic Byway. So we followed the road out of Albuquerque and took I40 to exit 175 to highway 14, known at the Turquoise Trail that eventually leads to Santa Fe. 

Looking towards Shiprock from Sandia Crest

Albuquerque from Sandia Crest

The drive up the scenic byway was very picturesque, but once again when we arrived at the top it was absolutely freezing so, pretty as it was we didn’t stay long. 

Have fun, we are!

Saturday, 19 July 2014

Petroglyphs & Volcanoes

Still following our plan to head north, we left Kiva RV Park and moved to the KOA at Bernalillo, just north of Albuquerque.   We had a nice site and were somewhat amazed to see we had what looked like a lawn.
It was actually astro turf, but it made a nice change from dust.   We also had a reasonably good view of the Sandia Mountains, and enjoyed watching the mountains as they changed colour at sunset.

One of our first trips was to Petroglyph National Monument.

We hiked several trails the first of which was Boca Negra Canyon, which is considered the birthplace of the Monument.   We hiked to the top of the rocks, which although not far was surprisingly steep and very windy.

There were some interesting petroglyphs, including one that resembles a historic Latin cross.   The crosses are thought to have been made by Spanish shepherds in 18th or 19th century.

The macaw petroglyph.

From there we drove over to Piedras Marcadas Canyon, this is the most remote section of the park, the trail is 1½ miles long across soft sand.   We saw more petroglyphs on this hike than the others. 

These are just a very few of the petroglyphs we saw.  I just loved this little face, he looks as though he's totally bemused.

This one looked as though he was having a great time at a party.

Shopping for lunch.

 As always Kokopelli made an appearance.

This chappie appeared to be creeping out from underneath a large rock.

At the end of Piedras Marcadas Canyon looking back towards Albuquerque

We enjoyed our trip to Petroglyph National Monument, although to be honest we were surprised to find that suburban Albuquerque surrounds most sections of the park.
Our next stop was the Volcanoes section of the park.   It’s a day use area and by the time we arrived at the car park we didn’t have time to hike the trails.   Not only that, the gorgeous warm, sunny weather we’d enjoyed all day disappeared, the sky clouded over and the wind started to blow. 

DB looked at me as though I was mad as I hopped out of the truck to read the signs and take some photographs.   He was right, the wind was really strong and quite cold believe me I soon climbed back into the truck. 

Have fun, we are!