Bench press

The rocky wash leading to the bench between Comanche and Candelaria.

The old red flag was flying again today, so instead of cycling Herself and I scrambled into the neighboring Sandia foothills, working our way along bits and pieces of the Candelaria Bench Loop.

Herself bouldering upward. There’s a bit of singletrack off to her left but it’s a slippery sonofabitch.

It’s only a four-mile hike, but there’s a fair amount of vertical at the beginning and the end, much of it on crumbly gravel switchbacks lined with sharp rocks and cacti.

After the first steep, loose climb east of Comanche we stuck to a stair-stepped, boulder-studded wash that was a whole lot more fun than the narrow singletrack I took a digger on last year, slamming my left thigh into a big round rock.

Oddly, the winding descent to Trail 365 near Candelaria seemed less challenging than I remembered.

Once I met another hiker on that stretch who said she simply sat and slid down some of the steeper sections (glissading, for the aficionados among you). I’ve done this a time or two myself, but never on purpose, or without consequences.

Didn’t happen today, to either of us, so yay, etc.

And we didn’t see another single solitary soul, either. Unless you count the three circling crows who seemed to be tracking our cautious movements downward and providing an appropriate soundtrack. Haw … haw … haw.

Herself inspects the Greater Duke City Metropolitan Area
from the Candelaria bench.

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16 Responses to “Bench press”

  1. khal spencer Says:

    Was a bit windy up this way too. I braved it and rode the Rail Trail down to Eldorado anyway. Had to do something.

  2. katholoch Says:

    I sure remember the spring NM winds! We have had a windy spring here in norCal too.

    • Patrick O'Grady Says:

      It’s a small thing to bitch about, but still, damn. When you’re crouched over a handlebar getting pollen blasted up your snout and your skin peeled as you grind along at -5 mph the cycling indoors starts to seem vaguely appealing.

  3. Shawn Says:

    It twas a beautiful day up here in the Cascades. We also had some wind so I gave the bike the day off to recover from the day before.

    Glissading. Yep I know about that and I’m wise to the ways it can turn bad and get ugly.

    • Patrick O'Grady Says:

      Back in high school we used to do what we called “screeing,” which was basically bounding down gravelly hillsides in hiking boots, usually up in North Cheyenne Cañon in Bibleburg. Drugs often played a supporting role. It often ended badly.

  4. Pat O’Brien Says:

    Any buzzworms? We didn’t see any on our last river outing, but little lizards were dashing about. So, they are probably stirring. Have you seen them on that trail?

    • Patrick O'Grady Says:

      I’ve seen a lizard scooting around on the woodpile, but so far no serpents. I watch where I put my hands and feet, though.

      Last year I don’t recall seeing a single buzzworm. A couple-three bull snakes, but no rattlers. But we had years like that up to Weirdcliffe, too. One year you wouldn’t see a single one, and the next you’d be wishing for stilts so you could walk to the truck without getting nailed.

      Sierra Club guidebook said rattlers mostly weren’t to be seen above 8,000 feet. But the buzzworms weren’t big readers so they did as they pleased.

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