THE SANDIA MOUNTAINS

Self-portrait in the wind, late afternoon, Embudito Trail southbound ---- March 30, 2021

Self-portrait in the wind, late afternoon, Embudito Trail southbound —- March 30, 2021

sunny birdsong morning
those high winds never arrived
they went elsewhere, over the
mountains and across the Llano Estacado
they went straight up into the sky
where they swirled and twisted into
each other, tore the clouds up,shredded
continents of clouds broke apart and
never came together again, the blue sky
wrapped its arms around them but they
blew away in scatter’d desperation,
crows enfolding their wings to drop
elevation precipitously in escape
(I watched this yesterday in 3 Gun Springs
Canyon —- one crow in particular, who
circled high up then was caught in thermals
that escalated him way up so that
he folded his wings in and dropped out of such
wind he had no control over, eventually
perching on a ledge in the high rocks of a ridge
out of danger) —-March 11, 2021

Magritte in the Sandias ---- This is what's known as First Post on the Three Gun Trail ---- January 25, 2021 ---- I made it to the ridge that day and was just about to chomp on a burrito when I saw fast approaching out of the Monzano Mountains to the south a black storm cloud, and then to my right coming up from over Embudo Ridge another cloud ---- It was 2:30 and so cold my camera quit working, I packed everything pronto and ran down trail till I was a couple thousand feet lower in elevation and safety and walked back to my truck in falling snow, quite exhilarating, really, I love it ---- This was the beginning of a five day snow storm ---- photo by MW

Magritte in the Sandias —- This is what’s known as First Post on the Three Gun Trail —- January 25, 2021 —- I made it to the ridge that day and was just about to chomp on a burrito when I saw fast approaching out of the Monzano Mountains to the south a black storm cloud, and then to my right coming up from over Embudo Ridge another cloud —- It was 2:30 and so cold my camera quit working, I packed everything pronto and ran down trail till I was a couple thousand feet lower in elevation and safety and walked back to my truck in falling snow, quite exhilarating, really, I love it —- This was the beginning of a five day snow storm —- photo by MW

The forests of the western slopes
have never been logged: too craggy
and what trees the human busybodies
could want are too far up
remote —-
These trees all know each other from
generations clear back to the Ice Age
12,000 years ago and further, no doubt —-
When you walk among them this is the wild
pristine original forest
primeval
You are
a visitor from another world, but your spirit
remembers, you once gather’d
acorn here, you were acorn people,
cactus chewers, telepathic deer people,
if you step away from that fire
I’m going to eat you says the cougar,
my friend, Bear will gnaw on your
foot, the hornytoad and ponderosa
must be related, you never see one
without the other, higher up the
Doug Fir shudder at the rumors that
other Douglas Fir in less formidable terrain
become telephone poles, basket weaver
people found no shortage of Mountain Mahogany —-
Myself, I pretend I can understand
the language of the trees, but, it’s faint,
sorrowful and joyful at the same time,
E=mc2
Time is the slow undulation of clouds
overhead

January 25, 2021 on Three Gun Spring Trail ---- photo by Mark Weber

January 25, 2021 on Three Gun Spring Trail —- photo by Mark Weber

10am on the Hawk Watch Trail ---- Tijeras Pass to the right, below ---- January 23, 2021

10am on the Hawk Watch Trail —- Tijeras Pass to the right, below —- January 23, 2021

Gambel Oak are deciduous ---- January 21, 2021 Domingo Baca Canyon

Gambel Oak are deciduous —- January 21, 2021 Domingo Baca Canyon

A minor victory for me: Every year I say I'm going to hike more in the winter, but after a couple jaunts I wimp out and stay home, wait till warmer weather ---- This year I did it! I hiked all winter, snowstorms, wind, ice ---- I found out that you get quite used to the 30s, but when drops into the 20s late in the day (sun sets at 5 in winter here on the 35th Parallel in the Northern Hemisphere) it's time to make it on out, although, I did plenty of that, too ---- photo January 21, 2021 ---- Domingo Baca Canyon

A minor victory for me: Every year I say I’m going to hike more in the winter, but after a couple jaunts I wimp out and stay home, wait till warmer weather —- This year I did it! I hiked all winter, snowstorms, wind, ice —- I found out that you get quite used to the 30s, but when drops into the 20s late in the day (sun sets at 5 in winter here on the 35th Parallel in the Northern Hemisphere) it’s time to make it on out, although, I did plenty of that, too —- photo January 21, 2021 —- Domingo Baca Canyon

The northern Sandias with Sandia Peak, 10, 679 feet ---- I'm writing a book about these mountains so wanted to show a straight-forward shot in the morning ---- January 21, 2021 ---- This day I'm heading up to Domingo Baca Canyon which is behind that ridge in the foreground ---- If you've ever seen that great movie Lonely Are The Brave, it was shot here in 1961 ---- photo by MW ---- Come this June I've been hiking these mountains 30 years ---- As we wait out the Pandemic Safety Lockdown not a bad way to spend the time, walking around in the wilds

The northern Sandias with Sandia Peak, 10, 679 feet —- I’m writing a book about these mountains so wanted to show a straight-forward shot in the morning —- January 21, 2021 —- This day I’m heading up to Domingo Baca Canyon which is behind that ridge in the foreground —- If you’ve ever seen that great movie Lonely Are The Brave, it was shot here in 1961 —- photo by MW —- Come this June I’ve been hiking these mountains 30 years —- As we wait out the Pandemic Safety Lockdown not a bad way to spend the time, walking around in the wilds

I have to leave at 7am to make the summit of South Sandia Peak, another 3,000 feet in elevation gain from where I'm standing ---- I intend to do that in a few months ---- photo by MW March 30, 2021 from Embudito Canyon around 7200 feet

I have to leave at 7am to make the summit of South Sandia Peak, another 3,000 feet in elevation gain from where I’m standing —- I intend to do that in a few months —- photo by MW March 30, 2021 from Embudito Canyon around 7200 feet

Embudito Canyon ---- March 30, 2021 ---- photo by MW

Embudito Canyon —- March 30, 2021 —- photo by MW

Bear Grass with last year's dry efflorescence ready to eject ---- Embudito Canyon March 30, 2021

Bear Grass with last year’s dry efflorescence ready to eject —- Embudito Canyon March 30, 2021

 Starting up Embudito Canyon Trail ---- that's Bear Grass to the right ---- Tuesday March 31, 2021 ---- photo by MW

Starting up Embudito Canyon Trail —- that’s Bear Grass to the right —- Tuesday March 31, 2021 —- photo by MW

Shirtpocket Notes —- Tuesday March 30, 2021
Breezy sunny I’m energized, probably Ricochet Effect coming off Vaxx #2 which apparently took a couple days to assimilate into my body —- The only side-effect was very hidden, it only revealed itself when I over-exerted myself by going on a hike Sunday, the day after (my jab was Saturday mid-morning) I was up Trail to the Sad-Eyed Lady, about two hours along realized I was in trouble, way up into the higher elevations and I was sweating like a sinner in church, thoroughly exhausted —- made it back to my truck after 3 hours and 20 minutes of jello muscles & sweaty shirts, and rather halting Pranayama (breathing hard)

12:15 Noon
Trailhead parking at Embudito Canyon
Exercise is just a side-benefit of walking in the mountains, certainly not the reason (I’m not an exercise nut —- My usual is to crash on the couch or rocking chair with an LP on the stereo, or book in hand munching Tater Tots)

12:50
Last View Promontory —- cooler up here, probably 49-degrees —-
I call this Last View as it’s the last you’ll see of Albuquerque and the Rio Grande for an hour or two, which is one of the highlights of this trail: You disappear the city —- usually takes me 20 minutes to get here, moving quasi-fast (“fast” is relative, you dig?) to get away from the rookies and yahoos and dog walkers, once up into the higher elevations you have solitude and meet more interesting types —- I had fooled around taking photos of the three
varieties of yucca found in the lower canyon, a lot of trailside Bear Grass, which has no relation to grass, other than its green, is a yucca, they’ll not flower until May —- the Mountain Mahogany is greening up! That’s good news for the deer —- I need put on another shirt and pack away my hat that keeps blowing off —- patches of snow, everything about to come alive after winter dormancy, popcorn clouds, sere blue sky hazy can barely see snowcapped Mt Taylor 60 miles west on the horizon —— We’ve been following the news regarding those 185 baby Galapagos tortoises that were intercepted, found in a suitcase, before they left the Islands thank gawd —- Janet said that black market brings $5,000 each and some are boiled into “turtle oil” as a cure-all nostrum for even more money —- So, the logic being that a human is more important than a tortoise? Maybe they should boil down those smugglers?

1:18
I’ve been wondering what the process is, how Bear Grass ejects it’s dry stalk (last year’s efflorescence) and I think I know: the high winds blowing it back & forth weakens its anchor

1:22
Hokku
OLD CANE
Who are you calling “old”
you old buzzard? —-
Says my walking stick

Wind really picking up —- icy and warm at same time —-
Birds have all taken cover

1:29
Fat rock squirrel just popped its head over boulder above me and dashed away soon as it saw me sitting here with my tea, it was only chance that I happen’d to be looking that way, who knows how many creatures are watching? Furious winds —- Quite exciting really, such winds (altho, wouldn’t want a steady diet of them) —- First two miles this trail follows northside flank of canyon essentially heading east, goes all the way to the crest if I had enough time and chutzpah —- steep over the side down 200 feet into the canyon floor below might be retreat from this wind?

1:40
I marvel at how deer can find sustenance with such meager leaves as the Mountain Mahogany, and of course grass (hasn’t sprouted, yet) and prickly pear —- It’s not that simple for us, I’m packing two homemade pork-onion-chile-cheese-bean burritos (the second one is only for emergency, thank you very much) there might be an apple in my pack as well, and mixed nuts, I’m a growing boy! I wonder if Basho had to contend with such furious winds?

Where is the Carrock? I should have come across it somewhere awhile ago? —- A most disturbing thought that it fell down into the canyon? I need make a return trip to look for it —- Many is the time I’ve sat on that rock outcropping and bathed in the afternoon air (“Carrock” is derived from Welsh = rock outcropping promontory —- So, I gave it that name some time ago, I got it from JRRT)

3:10
I’m at Falldown Rock (another of my names) where giant boulder came down obstructing trail two summers ago —- I should consider heeding Janet’s concern not to “push it” today, but I’m so close to the Ponderosas —– these winds suggest I turn back, also —- I lost a half hour talking with that veterinarian from Chicago, Pat who moved to Albuquerque last July, nice conversation about these mountains, she’s 65 and these are her first experience on such trails —- I like to talk with hikers in the back country, asking as we pass, “How far did you go?” which usually opens up conversation —- Pat said, “Far enough!” and put on her mask so we could talk, well, that was an hour ago —- Foolish and foolhardy I push on —- Lots of LGBs —- Little Grey Birds that I would have trouble determining their actual taxonomy —- “LGB” is a term I picked up from Edward Abbey’s masterpiece DESERT SOLITAIRE (1968)

3:23
Barefoot Arroyo and my Ponderosas! —- I take a few photos then short walk on the downward side of trail I spread out my little blanket, remove my shoes & socks and have lunch —- It’s less windy here, somewhat —- Some asshole has taken a hatchet to two of the noble Ponderosa and hacked out something that looks to be his initials? —- I take a little walk in the gravelly sand with burrito in hand, feels so good on bare feet, like an acupuncture session, tingles all the way up your spine —- It occurs to me that immersion in nature is a respite from the other world, UNTIL you come across disturbances like this hatchet activity and you are jerked back into the world they call civilization, an anthropological evolution I agree with, if not ruefully

4:00
Break camp —- If I’m going to beat the sun and chill I better start on down

4:20
Hello, again, Mr Greenstone —- 7,126 elevation (so I can compare) this rare vein of metamorphic rock cuts through here —- More on that later in my book

4:30
Something I have never in all my years on these trails seen before, and today on two separate occasions: rubber tips to walking sticks! I put them in my pack, who knows when you might need one? ———— Well, I’ll not be seeing anyone on trail this late in the day, windy as hell, too, ferocious

4:55
I’ve often thought they should change the name of these mountains to the Lichen Mountains —- Bright sun blasting my eyes, high in the sky still —- Today is the day I got my spunk back! Vaxx #2 slowed me down for a couple days

5:10
Last View Promontory —- Hazy dusty skies over Albuquerque —- Now, the last 30 minutes of trail will be a gauntlet of dogs, half of which their owners seem unaware of Leash Laws and the posted signs to keep Fido on leash —- Most are maskless, also, probably easy to think not necessary out here, but, if we’re going to kick this thing we need bear down and follow Governor Michelle Lujan’s health & safety mandates —- Do you want this pandemic to last ten years? I didn’t think so

5:43
Old Faithful Truck ———– Janet is bringing home Matzoh Ball Soup from Flying Star Restaurant tonight, it’s Passover —- Also, once I get home from these long walks (5 hours today for a 67-year-old boho) it’s good to do a yoga inversion posture Viparita Karani (lay on your back and put feet up the wall for 20 minutes) ————– Took a shower and she served me the soup just in time to watch my man Henry Louis Gates Jr on TV with his Finding Your Roots, of which, he should receive the Nobel Peace Prize, certainly in that league of humanity, amen

Mountain Mahogany with Spring new leaves ---- March 30, 2021 Embudito Canyon Trail

Mountain Mahogany with Spring new leaves —- March 30, 2021 Embudito Canyon Trail

Late lunch in Barefoot Arroyo south of the trail for a change (normally I go up the arroyo about quarter of a mile and sit and lunch and read) ---- I laughed the other day when I came across in a book a photo of John Muir resting in the woods with his shirts drying out hanging in trees! Photo by MW March 30, 2021 ---- Those are Ponderosa and Pinyon

Late lunch in Barefoot Arroyo south of the trail for a change (normally I go up the arroyo about quarter of a mile and sit and lunch and read) —- I laughed the other day when I came across in a book a photo of John Muir resting in the woods with his shirts drying out hanging in trees! Photo by MW March 30, 2021 —- Those are Ponderosa and Pinyon

Where the trail crosses Barefoot Arroyo (that's what I call it ---- Actually, this is upper Embudito Canyon) 72 or 7300 feet elevation in the Ponderosa Zone, and that's my walking stick ---- If you walk in the direction that the camera is aimed it'll eventually take you up to Oso Ridge Trail ---- photo by MW March 30, 2021 ---- I don't normally use a walking stick but after being attacked by those four Airedales last week in Juan Tabo Canyon, I'm carrying stick

Where the trail crosses Barefoot Arroyo (that’s what I call it —- Actually, this is upper Embudito Canyon) 72 or 7300 feet elevation in the Ponderosa Zone, and that’s my walking stick —- If you walk in the direction that the camera is aimed it’ll eventually take you up to Oso Ridge Trail —- photo by MW March 30, 2021 —- I don’t normally use a walking stick but after being attacked by those four Airedales last week in Juan Tabo Canyon, I’m carrying stick

These hidden canyons in the lower elevations can be seriously interesting, rather than taking the more heroic high altitude jaunts, this being Sunday morning I don't go too far, only a few hours as Janet makes us brunch every Sunday after her tennis ---- As far as I know this canyon has no name, but it leads up to a ravine that I call Deer Haven that one approaches from above coming down Sandia Eye Trail ---- photo by MW February 28, 2021

These hidden canyons in the lower elevations can be seriously interesting, rather than taking the more heroic high altitude jaunts, this being Sunday morning I don’t go too far, only a few hours as Janet makes us brunch every Sunday after her tennis —- As far as I know this canyon has no name, but it leads up to a ravine that I call Deer Haven that one approaches from above coming down Sandia Eye Trail —- photo by MW February 28, 2021

These crows followed me for about twenty minutes ---- 17 of them ---- Oso Ridge Trail heading toward Barefoot Arroyo cut-down trail, up around 7200 feet, when I got deeper into that Pinon Forest they flew through the understory, very cinematic ---- February 26, 2021

These crows followed me for about twenty minutes —- 17 of them —- Oso Ridge Trail heading toward Barefoot Arroyo cut-down trail, up around 7200 feet, when I got deeper into that Pinon Forest they flew through the understory, very cinematic —- February 26, 2021

Fresh cougar paw print up on Oso Ridge Trail morning of February 26, 2021 ---- photo by MW

Fresh cougar paw print up on Oso Ridge Trail morning of February 26, 2021 —- photo by MW

"Days and months are travelers of eternity. So are the years that pass by. Those who steer a boat across the sea, or drive a horse over the earth till they succumb to the weight of years, spend every minute of their lives travelling. There are a great number of ancients, too, who died on the road. I myself have been tempted for a long time by the cloud-moving wind, filled with a strong desire to wander." ---- thus is how Matsuo Basho begins his immortal text Narrow Road to the Deep North regarding a 6-month hike in 1689 Japan ---- Photo of Embudito Trail, March 30, 2021

“Days and months are travelers of eternity. So are the years that pass by. Those who steer a boat across the sea, or drive a horse over the earth till they succumb to the weight of years, spend every minute of their lives travelling. There are a great number of ancients, too, who died on the road. I myself have been tempted for a long time by the cloud-moving wind, filled with a strong desire to wander.” —- thus is how Matsuo Basho begins his immortal text Narrow Road to the Deep North regarding a 6-month hike in 1689 Japan —- Photo of Embudito Trail, March 30, 2021

Photo by MW looking south from Sandia Eye Trail toward the Monzano Mountains ---- February 23, 2021 The opening two paragraphs of Ann Woodin's 1964 book HOME IS THE DESERT perfectly explain this place: "Were you to fly high over the southwestern part of our country, you would look down on a lean and frugal land, burnt by the sun, creased by mountains, fissured by canyons and empty river beds. For the most part the land is bleached and dry, but you would see occasional patches of black lava, and the dark green marking the highest mountains and plateaus. The wide sky is made for eagles to soar in, and could you listen you would hear them scream. It is a noble land, fierce and unyielding, and the eye becomes used to looking at things far away. In the winter the Pacific winds slide over the mountains, sometimes bringing with them rain. In the burning summers other winds blow in from the Gulf of Mexico to inflate huge thunder clouds. When these burst, the land is briefly cooled and the fleeting grass grows. And the air is so clear and weightless as to be nonexistent, and the sun feels close and hot."

Photo by MW looking south from Sandia Eye Trail toward the Monzano Mountains —- February 23, 2021 The opening two paragraphs of Ann Woodin’s 1964 book HOME IS THE DESERT perfectly explain this place: “Were you to fly high over the southwestern part of our country, you would look down on a lean and frugal land, burnt by the sun, creased by mountains, fissured by canyons and empty river beds. For the most part the land is bleached and dry, but you would see occasional patches of black lava, and the dark green marking the highest mountains and plateaus. The wide sky is made for eagles to soar in, and could you listen you would hear them scream. It is a noble land, fierce and unyielding, and the eye becomes used to looking at things far away. In the winter the Pacific winds slide over the mountains, sometimes bringing with them rain. In the burning summers other winds blow in from the Gulf of Mexico to inflate huge thunder clouds. When these burst, the land is briefly cooled and the fleeting grass grows. And the air is so clear and weightless as to be nonexistent, and the sun feels close and hot.”

Western face of the Sandia Mountains, view from near our neighborhood in southeast Albuquerque ---- March 25, 2021 ---- photo by MW

Western face of the Sandia Mountains, view from near our neighborhood in southeast Albuquerque —- March 25, 2021 —- photo by MW

Rather dour look from yours truly —- Saxophonist Doug Lawrence gave me that hat years ago, he’s still with Basie and just had a recording session a couple days ago here in town (Sunday March 28) w/Cal Haines, Micky Patten, and Terry Burns (drums, guitar, bass) —- Photo Self-portrait w/ Dour stormy weather blowing in —- January 2021 —- I wear that hat to keep the sun out of my eyes, otherwise you’ll never catch me in a duckbill

Rather dour look from yours truly —- Saxophonist Doug Lawrence gave me that hat years ago, he’s still with Basie and just had a recording session a couple days ago here in town (Sunday March 28) w/Cal Haines, Micky Patten, and Terry Burns (drums, guitar, bass) —- Photo Self-portrait w/ Dour stormy weather blowing in —- January 2021 —- I wear that hat to keep the sun out of my eyes, otherwise you’ll never catch me in a duckbill

4 Comments

  1. Mark A Weber

    Shirtpocket Notes —- Friday March 19, 2021 Sandia Mountains

    11:50
    Park at Hilldale Loop entry into Open Space
    Hazy warm sunny day in the 60s

    12noon
    Take a quick jaunt on the Hilldale Loop roundabout to the saddle junction
    with several other trails, I’ll take the forbidding one that goes straight up
    (scares off the neophytes) informally known as Sandia Eye Trail —-
    I do go fast the first mile to get beyond the dog walkers and joggers and exercise
    nuts and those wearing the latest fashions in hiking ensembles —-
    Strangely, I expected more hikers on such a warm day —-
    Roar & hum of Interstate-40 (this trail goes along the southern edge of Sandias,
    bordering Tijeras Pass)

    12:15
    . . . sometimes a little too fast
    I’m huffing & puffing
    Take a snort of tea
    Remove flannel

    12:37
    Lots of Beargrass, which has no relation to grass other than it’s green,
    it’s a narrow-leaf yucca, very
    grassy, with always the dead stalk of last year’s efflorescence still in center —- They’ll not
    flower until May (says here that the males have a pinkish-white flower and the
    female are white)

    12:45
    Snow all over up here, in patches in the shadows of boulders and under juniper
    surprising to see, although it did snow last week

    12:58
    One hour marks tea break sit down relax take a load off
    It’ll probably take another hour to make the Sad-Eyed Lady and lunch
    (I picked up a burrito at Federiquito’s for this hike —- they were not their usual
    efficient operation today and took a half hour and I hate that)
    Birds chattering all across the skin of this mountain today
    I spoke with a guy a while back who said, “There’s going to be an official trail
    through here someday” He was filming with smartphone and taking notes
    I said, “Really?” Nothing wrong with this existing trail as far as I can see,
    except that first scramble of elevation gain, “Have you heard a rumor?”
    He said, “I’m with Open Space Division”
    Not terribly open or engaging, one of those officious types who cultivates
    an air of being in possession of certain information he’s not at liberty to discuss,
    proprietary you understand? You know the type, you met them in high school —-
    I did manage to get some information out of him, but needed a crowbar: I asked
    about guns up here, can you bring one, and he said you can carry one but you
    can’t shoot it, I said I’ve had trouble with scary dogs, he disinterestedly said, “Pepper
    spray” —- I asked what number they were going to assign to this trail, he
    said, “It’s obviously way too early to put a number on it now” Which translates:
    They’ll never get it done —- Why does the Forest Service and Open Space have so
    many deadbeats and lardbutts? No passion, the personality of a dish rag, all this wildness is just a paycheck don’t bother me . . . .
    Hey, a happy little butterfly lands on my wristwatch, small, with a profile no bigger
    than a quarter, the forward wings are golden and the back wings are psychedelic green,
    he flitters off, I hope I can photo the next time I see him (or her?)
    I can see way up on the ridge above are those two hikers that passed me when I was
    talking with the surveyor, and have already outdistanced me by a mile, little tiny
    moving dots —-
    I’m bareback
    Well, I’ll be up there soon as I get off my rear end
    Igneous? metamorphic? Granite can be both igneous and metamorphic, the whole
    bunch of it around here is called Sandia Granite but is definitely of two types: crumbly and diamond-hard ———– The good news today, especially for the deer, is the Mountain Mahogany
    is greening up and sprouting new leaves, the deer love those (searched my memory for
    what this plant used to be called when I first arrived in NM, you never see or hear anymore:
    “Squawbush,” a somewhat downscale reference to the Indian ladies who stranded it’s branches to make baskets)

    1:42
    I need dig that apple out of my pack —- Need to eat something to hold me, my bad
    habit of over-looking breakfast has the foreman of my furnace beckoning for more coal, and
    the steepest part of the trail just ahead, what a scramble, I’m looking at it with trepidation —-
    Crows overhead clucking at me, two of them circling —- Moon also (it’s stationery) —-
    The Manzanitas and the Monzanos spread out to the south, I tell the crows
    they can have my apple core when I’m done, they’re watching intently —-
    “And . . . It’s over hill, over dale, we hit the dusty trail, and the caissons keep rolling
    along!” an old U.S. Army infantry song my Dad used to sing —- I’ve always assumed
    a caisson was a wagon of some sort? Or as the Anglo-Saxons called them: a wain,
    and the Middle English called them a waggon, I could look it up, but, that’s no fun . . . .

    1:55
    Brutality —- Must be a 500-foot elevation gain at 45-degree incline up crumbly slippery
    slipshod heart attack trail, I’m out of breath, chest heaving, still more to go, power’d by
    the sugar-sweet Granny Smith

    2:06
    Now, I’m a tiny itty bitty person walking that high ridge, about 6-inches tall, slight
    stroke of light-headedness, I’m stopped to let it pass, the trail now turned around
    the ridge and faces the city of Albuquerque spread out around the Rio Grande

    2:15
    Sandia Eye —- 7,230 feet
    2 miles with elevation gain of 1200 feet the book says
    and those are mountain trail miles, which is an alternate universe
    where time expands and contracts and distance is proportional to a gnostic
    algorithm outside my realm of brain reach —-
    Time for lunch
    Lay out my little blanket
    take shoes off
    Release knee straps
    Eat burrito pronto (dutifully stopping halfway as too much will make the 2 mile return
    seem like ten)
    Bathe in the open air (it was the summer before 9th grade I read a bio on
    Gandhi and he talked about “bathing in the morning air,” a new idea to me, then)

    “Mark, are we gonna weep in the weeping bag tonight?” Scotty was still learning how
    to form words everything was an adventure, the previous night there’d been thunder &
    lightening and in his fright I’d let him crawl into my sleeping bag —- The boys downstairs
    and the girls in the loft, and our mothers in the various convertible beds in the living room,
    a one-room cabin with kitchen tucked under the loft and an iron pot-bellied stove in the
    middle —- My Mom loved telling that story for years about Mark & Scotty weeping in the
    weeping bag —- Kennedy was President —- Two full weeks sometimes three every
    summer we’d vacation up at Aunt Ida’s cabin in Big Bear, those idyllic San Bernardino
    Mountains full of Ponderosa and spruce —- Our mothers and Granny: Jean Cecil and her two gorgeous daughters Michelle and Monica, and her boys, Chuck who was my age, and young
    Scotty; me and my two brothers Craig and Brian; Dory Gustin and her two daughters, who
    were the oldest of us kids, Sherry and Sandy (Ida was Dory’s aunt —- All the summers we stayed there I never met Ida, the last time was 1972 the year I was reading Steinbeck)
    Years later I was able to introduce Janet to these old dear friends and Jean saw me come
    through the door at a gathering at the Gustin’s and she rushed over and
    hugged me and cried and cried, that’s how wonderful those years were —- Granny was
    a transplanted Texan, was Jean’s mother, we all lived in the hills outside Riverside California, country people, horses, donkeys, cows, roosters, dogs, wildlife, how do you begin to
    explain to anyone how innocent we all were those years?

    3:00
    Break camp —- chattery group of college students have showed up around the other side
    of this boulder where the Sad-Eyed Lady watches over Tijeras Pass, the girl of the trio has
    voice like a megaphone, it’s time to pack up, anyway, head on down

    3:35
    Now that I’ve seen a lizard, maybe should keep an eye out for rattlers? Haven’t had to
    think about them over the last several cold months, everything underground dormant —-
    Everything waking up now, I had ants visit me during my lunch, and off in distance a rock
    squirrel (or was it a chipmunk? they never stand still long enough to tell, all I know is that
    I’ve seen squirrel through here in the past) and where there’s squirrel there’s rattlesnakes —-
    still quite a lot of dormancy, at least on the surface, the deciduous oak (we have both up here)
    haven’t resprouted, nor has the grass

    4:05
    Tea break on this high ridge close by Tijeras Pass, watch the planes land at Albuquerque
    International, altho, haven’t seen one in a while, you would think Friday would be a fly
    day but the pandemic has slowed all that down —-
    Hawk circling way up, first over the Pass and now right above me cross-legged
    on this rock pile, slowly drifting eastward down along the southern end of Sandias

    4:30
    Horses! (3) at the saddle between Hilldale Loop and here —- I asked if I could take his
    picture, in his cowboy hat and ranch work attire, he said sure, “Let me turn the horse
    around,” said he wasn’t going any further, and I concurred the trail would be rough for
    a horse, he said “This horse is too old for this trail, and me, too” —- Horses name was
    “Sky” —- (I thought it impertinent to ask the cowboy’s name)

    4:44
    Old Faithful Truck

    IT ALL FOLDED OUTWARD

    It all folded outward —-
    Sounds poetic enough, but
    it’s not true, there’s a whole city
    down there to which
    the mountains are nothing but
    a cardboard cut-out on the edge of town, a jagged horizon
    Spend their entire lives not the least
    bit curious about them,
    and for their part, the mountains
    are folded inward
    not the least bit interested in sharing
    their secrets

    DSC02412.JPG

  2. Daisy

    Thanks for your wonderful photos, poetry and diary. You have given new life to the mountains we live next to. And OMG on the cougar prints.

  3. vinny

    Very cool my friend.

  4. Mark A Weber

    Shirtpocket Notes —- Wednesday March 3, 2021 Sandia Mountains

    10:30 Trailhead parking
    Embudo Canyon
    I plan to make the terminus

    11:36 tea break
    Trail alternately slushy mud or ice, tho, mostly dry
    AMazing how far a person can get in an hour if hungry enough!
    (can’t eat this Federiquito’s burrito until I make the ridge)
    Departure was waylaid as I wrestled with this “smart” phone
    Janet got me for Christmas —- it appears to be defective —-
    Frustrated me so much I forgot to put on my knee sleeves,
    so, just now found me a good walking stick from deadfall
    pinon, trunk all black from fire, I’m in the Plain of the Dead, just below
    where trail gets steep, so,
    I didn’t get out of house till 9:30 and then wait at p/up window for my
    burrito

    Not a cloud in the sky
    sunny & chilly —– The morning started at 31-degrees
    but it’s warming up fast

    12:08 tea break
    That young girl that almost lost her life last Sunday when a giant
    boulder crushed her (not far from here, just over the northern ridge of Embudo Cyn
    what they erroneously call Whitewash Trail)
    Has me tip-toeing gingerly passed these giant rock outcroppings
    These mountains move and shift, everything does, a pile of boulders
    the young family climbed often, was no longer stable much to her unfortune,
    they’re probably amputating part of her leg today —-
    Sunday I was bushwacking up Rock Face Canyon, myself under boulders
    all morning, a very boulder unofficial trail half up an arroyo and half up the
    side wall

    12:30
    Need catch breath —- Kind of look like I’ll make the ridge & junction over to 3 Gun
    Springs any minute, altho, I’ve been fooled before by these false summits —-
    It was 25 years ago on this same sector of trail that I was started to see a horse
    that had fallen off trail over backwards landed feet up wedged in a crevice,
    absolutely no hope of saving her fifteen feet down, steep along here, not a very wide
    trail —- What strikes me now, is why her skull and bones hadn’t been scavenged
    by weasels and badgers and coyote? —- It must have been an agonizing death

    12:50 at the ridge
    Pretty fast (for me) 2 hours 20 minutes
    The trail sign post is gone (?) Super-unfriendly to destroy, some of us like to see
    these, I look around for remnants with no luck —- I can’t imagine the FS removed
    it with ideas of replacing? Those lardbutts could never get this far up

    1:00
    I’m bareback with my shirts scatter’d over rocks to dry —- I saw photo yesterday in
    one of my John Muir books of John sitting under a tree with a book with his shirts
    dangling from branches! I need remove my shoes & socks, let them breathe, before
    engaging in burrito worship

    1:10
    Found a spot between two boulders as windbreak in direct sun (of the last couple times
    I’ve been on this ridge it was summer and one needed find shade for lunch break!)
    eastern side of saddle looking over into Three Gun Springs and also view south to
    Interstate-40
    Streaming jet coming over South Sandia Peak leaving dul contrail, always reminds me
    of opening scenes in movie LONELY ARE THE BRAVE

    You can see the mysterious Great Unconformity of sandstone/limestone layer like
    a capstone on top of the 1.4 bya granite under it —-
    we know the top layer of striated limestone are 300 mya because of marine fossils
    within BUT WHERE HATH GONE the 1.4 billion years in between these two
    rock strata? This being a geologic mystery
    of which I have a theory: Space aliens stole it, in a giant cargo ship —- okay?

    “drifting clouds like a wanderers mind” —- LiPo [p48]

    1:37
    My foot has gone to sleep, yow, tucked under myself, I cannot get back on trail,
    just yet, you don’t want to wake it too quick

    1:45
    Break camp, head down
    That last half hour of trail up was hellacious, so, going down those rock faces are
    going to be tentative but sure-footed careful

    2:05
    I forgot to check altimeter when I was on top
    but reading here is 7,351
    so, on the ridge probably 7400

    Possible title for book: THE GALILEO TREE
    I’ll think on it
    Being that so many poems I’m choosing for this collection are from
    the Sandias

    3:43
    Water pooling at bottom of downside of old (silted in) dam, coming
    out the little hole, mossy green —- The furry creatures will be happy

    4:23 Old Faithful Truck —- full parking lot, but not that many people on trail,
    must be bicyclists
    You can sure tell winter is about over on a day like today, even tho it was 31
    this morning, it’s in mid-60s now with buds on the trees, I hiked down in a
    teeshirt

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