Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Birthday hike

Last Sunday, my two sons and I went on a hike in the Sandia Mountains, not too far from our house because that's what I wanted to do for my birthday, before I get too old, ;).

I packed up some water (2 bottles), a couple of granola bars, two apples, a bag of carrots and sugar snap peas, and a couple of string cheeses. I knew Trevor was packing snacks but I wasn't sure if Ross was. I brought along my rain poncho because it had been misting in the morning and it still looked like it might rain some more. I brought along a sweatshirt because it was chilly, and I wore my handmade alpaca hat, just because. After I loaded everything into my backpack, along with my camera and some other odds and ends, I thought that maybe I was overpacking. After all, we were only going five or six miles in just a couple or so hours. Oh well, I thought, better to be prepared, than not. Right?

Around 11:00 we arrived at the trail head and this deer or elk skull had been placed on the mountain lion and bear warning signs. Kind of eerie, huh?
I took a photo of the map because you just never know if you might need it. This map is actually covering the entire mountain. Our plan was to do the little red triangle in the bottom right corner, the Faulty Loop Trail.
 Along the way, there is a small waterfall and some little caves which the boys had to explore.

Here's a misty view of the nearby village.

My youngest son always has to ham it up for the camera.
Besides seeing the edges of my backpack and my "borrowed" walking stick, which I happily picked up at the trailhead, I wanted to show you how the plants grow in rocks around here.

I just love this tree. Can't you just see all kinds of mythical, magical things in it? I mean, I see a long beak-faced woman kneeling with her arms up, reaching for the sky. Do you see the elephant, or warthog, with the tusk? Can you see the green man's face right next to it? Okay, well, I guess I have a vivid imagination, then.

There were a few flowers along the way, nestled in amongst the rocks.

Here is part of the trail we hiked. This was one of the lesser rocky areas. Isn't it pretty?
 Here's an artistic view of a tree. 
It was cloudy and cool but it never did rain. It felt like an Autumn day without the fall colors, just a perfect day for a hike.

This fallen log makes a perfect, natural bridge across the gully, doesn't it?
Unfortunately, we came across several more deadfall trees across our trail, like the one in the photo below, which we had to climb over. It's much larger than the photo makes it appear. We wondered why the path appeared so little used and then we suddenly realized we were on the wrong trail! When we  stopped for lunch, there was an intersection of three trails. We chose the trail to the right when we should have done a 320 degree turn back onto the lower trail. Oh no! After thinking that we were so close to the end, I was devasted when I realized we had miles still to go. By now, my ankle was hurting and I was tired. I felt like I had "hit my wall." My younger son gave me good advice from his trek guide days. He said, "Never think about getting to the end of the trail until you are actually finished, in camp, or driving home, because you just never know how much further you might really have to go." It's true, I was so looking forward to being done and now I had to keep on hiking. We took a break, ate some snacks, and started back. Until now, I was actually doing better than I had hoped for. I was wearing my ankle brace and it only hurt on the extreme "ups" and downs" because my bad ankle just doesn't flex much yet.
We passed this little hut made of old tree limbs and wondered who had made it? Trevor had to go check it out inside.
We checked the map on my camera and found where we had made the wrong turn. In the end, we found it easier to backtrack the whole way out. This is a big mountain with lots of trails but it amazes me how easily one can get lost. The trails look alike after a while and directions can be misleading. I was actually thankful for the excess of food and water just in case we had to spend the night, or something. I went on this trail by myself a few years ago and made a wrong turn and ended up several miles up from where I started, probably the same route we just made. I certainly didn't expect to make any wrong turns this time, however, with my sons along. I think it's called the Faulty Loop because there is a flaw in the map; it's not really a loop at all. LOL.

We did make it out shortly after four o'clock. Not too bad for my first hike, only four and a half months after breaking my ankle. We celebrated our return to civilization with burgers, cokes, and fries at Carl's Jr. I wasn't too terribly tired yesterday, but boy, today, I'm feeling the pain. It takes me a few steps to get my muscles moving and walking normally again. My hips and upper thighs sure got a work out.
What a goofy family shot, huh??


Minus Pride said...

Your sons look a lot like you!! What an adventurous trip! I envy your mountains!!

Laughing Orca Ranch said...

That's what catches a lot of hikers by surprise, don't you think? The close proximity to the city and the assumption that the mountain is small and easy to traverse, even though it has fully earned it's reputation as a wilderness area.
I'm glad you made it out alright and remembered to over-pack your supplies. You really should get yourself a pair of trekking poles. They have been a lifesaver for me and my knees and hips on the uphills and downhills of the trails. I bought some for Jax and Jem over at Wally World for just $18 a pair.

I'm happy for you that your sons joined you for a birthday hike, too. I love hiking with my sons and hope I'm able to for a long time.

By the way, this comment box is laying over the top half of R's face and I looked down and thought to myself, "How uncanny! R's lower half could pass for David Bowie's face!"
And tell T he is sure looking handsome these days. I love the new hairstyle!

Great pic!

Dan and Betty Cooksey said...

Happy birthday.

Great pictures.


Jeni said...

What a perfect way to spend a birthday!

fernvalley01 said...

Happy Birthday! You and Lisa are close with birthdays as well as neighbors , cool! Hope you enjoy many more hikes with your boys

Mary said...

I would give my right arm to go on a hike with my kids like that.
It sounds like a great day, maybe a tad longer than you expected. At least it wasn't blisteringly hot.

achieve1dream said...

Happy belated birthday! Besides getting lost and your ankle hurting it sounds like a fun hike. :) That tree is so cool. I think I could see the woman, but I'm in too much of a hurry to look for the other right now. Maybe later.