I returned this weekend from a glorious time in the Land of Enchantment after speaking to the New Mexico Conclave in Albuquerque of federal, state, and tribal judges and lawyers. I stayed an extra day to hike in New Mexico, an area of unique and breathtaking trails. After looking forward for weeks to my planned hikes, I was crushed to fly into Albuquerque over a raging forest fire. In watching the massive fire from the plane I thought that my hiking plans were shot. I then learned that the temperatures would be in triple digits. Nevertheless, I was able to do two magnificent hikes and look a lot of pictures.
In Albuquerque, I stayed at the Marriott Pyramid and was fortunate enough to run into Michael Lakoff, the director of sales at the hotel. Michael came in as I was trying to print out alternative maps of trails away from the fire. He gave me some helpful suggestions. I went to grab a quick breakfast when Michael came over to the table to propose an alternative trail: the Tent Rock Monument trail about an hour north of the fires. He showed me wonderful pictures of his husband and his two boys on the trail as well as another equally breathtaking trail farther north. Marriott is fortunate to have Michael who researched directions and offered useful tips on doing the hike. I occasionally run into extraordinary staff at hotels who transform your stay. Michael Lakoff is that type of professional and Marriott is incredibly fortunate to have him. I know I was incredibly fortunate to meet him and discover the awesome Tent Rock trail.
The Kasha-Katuwe Tent Rocks National Monument is the ultimate combination of hiking and history. The distinctive cone-shaped tent rock formations are the result of volcanic eruptions 6 to 7 million years ago. The eruptions produced 1,000 feet of pumice, ash, and tuff deposits as well as pyroclasts (rock fragments). The event must have been truly apocalyptic with an incandescent avalanche called a “pyroclastic flow.”
It was spellbinding to wind through the rock formations and then hike to the top of the plateau. I started early when it was warm but not searing. By the time I reached my second hike, the Pino trial in the Sandia Mountains. Pino Trail is a 8.9 mile and starts with a slow climb in fairly desert-like conditions. At 101 degrees, it was punishing. The ranger at the entrance asked me not to wear ear buds because of the large number of rattlesnakes. Hikers sometimes do not hear the snakes and get bitten. I saw two rattlers on the trail. I was using my camelback and went through two gallons of water during the hikes. The Pino hike was one of the most difficult in terms of temperature that I have done. With near zero humidity, the temperature sucks the water out of your body and you have to continually drink to stay functional. This is an extremely hostile environment on such a hot day and you also have to continually reapply sun block. However, it was worth it in moving from the lower area into the mountain and to see the gradual change in trees and surroundings.
Here are some of the pictures from the hike: