Archive for the ‘Hiking’ Category

Who was that masked man?

July 13, 2020

A lot of nothing.

Today marked the re-enactment and expansion of various Bug-related restrictions, among them a requirement that New Mexicans wear masks while exercising.

I can’t be certain that this was behind the empty parking lot at the Piedra Lisa trailhead, but damn, I haven’t seen that sucker empty since, well, ever.

Meanwhile, during this morning’s 90-minute trail hike I encountered 10 people, only one of whom was wearing a mask. And she was walking a dog off-leash.

So much for the rule of law.

I was obeying its spirit, as the letter seemed to have some wiggle room. I haven’t seen anything specifying the type of mask to be worn, so I had a bandana looped around my neck, ready to be pulled over my gob and snout as the need arose, which mostly it didn’t.

NPR health correspondent Maria Godoy had my back:

If you’re doing something like running or biking outdoors and you’re alone or just with the people you live with, it’s OK to have your mask down if there’s no one else around, says Abraar Karan, a physician at Harvard Medical School and a member of the Massachusetts COVID-19 response team.

As long as you haven’t been touching stuff along the way, like benches or rails, you haven’t had a close conversation with a stranger, it’s OK to use your hands to pull it down. If you see someone coming, put up your mask until they pass. And if you’re running and passing someone, give them at least 6 feet of space.

I also had an actual mask tucked into a pocket, because quién sabe? When cycling I carry two spare tubes and a pump for the same reason.

Even this relaxed approach to masking during exercise took some of the pleasure out of my hike. But it was miles better than not going out at all.

Going up and back

July 12, 2020

This is the view from what I believe is the southern end
of that trail I couldn’t find.

The heat wave continues.

It was 100° here by noon, if you believe our weather station, which I’m not quite certain I do. Most of the other stations nearby were reporting mid- to high 90s.

But still, shit. Hot out there.

Nevertheless, the healthful outdoor exercise must go on. There’s a fat bastard around here somewhere, and he wants to be me. I gotta keep him down, the way Bruce Banner does the Hulk.

Mr. Sam Hillborne
with his new old pedals.

On Thursday I stalked around the Sandias trying to find an unmarked trail that supposedly loops around from Comanche to just north of Candelaria. No joy. Oh, there are plenty of trails up there, and I followed a few — more than a few, actually — as the sun smiled down upon me like a chef with his spatula.

One drew me into a shady, rocky area that smelled like cats. Not the kind you cuddle, either. So I got out of there and wandered back to and down Trail 365, to where this mystery trail is supposed to meet up with it on the south side, then backtracked a ways up the hillside.

Up on a ridgeline with a fine view of Albuquerque I saw what might be a path that could lead to the mystery trail. But by then my brain was thickening on a slow simmer and my ankle was muttering, “You know I’m gonna dump your dumb ass up here, right?” So I gave up and limped back to the rancheroo.

Old-school pedals.

The next day Mr. Sam Hillborne and I rolled out for a short one. The bike is now wearing MKS Sylvan touring pedals, deep steel toe clips, and some battered Alfredo Binda toe straps from my early cyclocross days. I hadn’t given them a spin, so off we went, in street shoes, baggy shorts and a red plaid Novara shirt that I almost never wear.

It was delightful, as you may have suspected. All my bikes save the Soma Double Cross sport clipless pedals, but it’s nice to take a short technological step back now and then. As with friction shifting, the pedal flip and slide comes back quickly. It’s just like riding a bicycle.

Fire, works

July 5, 2020

Looking back toward ’Burque from just beyond last month’s 5-acre blaze.

Yesterday Herself and I hiked up to the site of last month’s smallish foothills fire and pressed on a bit further for a peek at some of the as-yet-unburnt open space beyond.

It’s pretty up there. Great spot for young miscreants to engage in unsupervised experimentation with this, that, and the other. That’s what we would’ve used it for when I was a teenager possessed by various devils, anyway.

The Voodoo Nakisi parked along one of the zillions of trails in Bibleburg’s Palmer Park, circa 2013.

Our spot was Palmer Park, in Bibleburg. We called it “The Bluffs,” and it was where we went to act the fool, on foot, aboard bicycles, and finally in cars.

Never set the place ablaze, though. Not that I recall, anyway.

There’s a ton of short hikes like Sunset Canyon here in the foothills, and don’t I wish I had explored a few of them before FUBARing my right ankle, because there is generally a bit of scrambling involved.

The idea of finding myself sprawled in some rock garden with a freshly rebroken ankle, awaiting a visit from some carnivore that is decidedly not an EMT, is not my idea of a good time.

Back at El Rancho Pendejo we lunched on some leftover chicken chili with some blue corn ships and some grated Irish cheddar on a bed of rice.

Dinner was also a rerun, a second round of faux pizza I cobbled together using two Vicolo corn-meal crusts topped with some leftover pasta sauce (kind of a New Mexican arrabbiata), grated mozzarella and Parmigiano Reggiano, and chopped Applegate sweet Italian chicken sausage.

We’ve been trying to watch “Dark,” which is engrossing in a “Stranger Things” meets “Lost” kind of way, but it’s just too .. well, too dark for us at the moment.

Getting lit for the Fourth.

So instead we had a go at “The Florida Project,” a quirky little slice-of-odd-life kind of film that will feel familiar to anyone who’s ever stayed the night in a sketchy tourist-town motel and caught a glimpse of the regulars who are definitely not there for the fun of it.

As H.I. observes in “Raising Arizona,” it ain’t “Ozzie and Harriet.”

The evening’s entertainment concluded with the annual fireworks extravaganza put on by our neighbors to the west, who’ve been bringing the boom for their kids and everyone else’s for a couple decades now.

It was a socially distant version of their usual Fourth of July celebration. Also not exactly “Ozzie and Harriet,” but nevertheless a welcome reminder that life, quirky as it is, goes on.

Ooooooh … ahhhhhhhhh. …

The temperature is testicular

June 22, 2020

Smoke from various Southwestern fires is pooling down by the Rio.

Boom! And just like that, it’s officially hot as balls here at the Duke City Chuckle Hut.

We hit the century mark this afternoon, according to our Acu-Rite weather gizmo.

I got outdoors while the temperature was a frosty 84 degrees, so I didn’t explode like an unpierced spud in a microwave. I’m still not running, but a six-mile hike is a fine means of making a motheaten carcass carry its own weight for a couple hours.

Incidentally, if any of yis who commit pedestrianism have not yet tried trekking poles, you might consider giving ’em a whirl. I scored a set of Gossamer Gear LT5 poles when they went on sale earlier this month, and they give me something to do with my hands other than gesticulate while arguing with the voices in my head.

Also, moreover, furthermore, and too, they help buttress the bum ankle as I stumble up and down the rocky Sandia singletrack in my quest for the wily endorphin.

Alas, when I turned around up near the wilderness boundary a cloud of overcooked forest was obscuring the view. On a clear day it’s no trick to see all the way to Mount Taylor and points west.

Something else that’s not so hot: The Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta has been canceled for this year. That’s a solid-gold kick in the ’nads for bidness and gummint. A study of the 2019 fiesta estimated the economic impact at $186.8 million, with a corresponding shit-ton of tax revenues for the city, county and state.


June 6, 2020

The view west from Trail 365 and Candelaria.

We’ve finally surrendered to the inevitable and turned on the air conditioning at El Rancho Pendejo.

It’s been hot as balls for a while now. And though this morning we awakened to cloudy skies and light rain, before long the sun came out, the wind followed, and boom! Just like that our plans for a long bike ride got red-flagged.

The gabacho sombrero.

Herself opted for a short trail run instead, while I trudged out for an hourlong hike, my running days being more or less over.

One of the downsides of using hiking as a running replacement is that the practitioner is compelled to spend more time outside, where the sun is. And during a four-miler last week I got a bit toasted on the back of the neck, where my Santa Fe School of Cooking ballcap proved of no use whatsoever.

So afterward I popped round to a nearby surplus store, where I scored myself a cheapo Honduran boonie hat to replace the ballcap. And I’ve started knotting a raggedy-ass bandana around my throat, too.

Now I look like every other bewhiskered old gabacho hoofer in the ’hood. Imagine how Carl Spackler might look 40 years after “Caddyshack,” assuming he married well, and you’ll get the picture.

Chalk up another walk

May 5, 2020

Flowers and honeybees and ladybugs, o my.

Mondays used to be running days. No más, no más, as Roberto Duran once said.

These days, I walk. It may be slow, but at least it takes a lot of time.

The view to the east.

Yesterday I marched south along the Linear Trail to Piedra Lisa Park and the Menaul trailhead, then came home via Foothills Trails 401 and 365. Three and a half miles in a little over an hour, with stops for snaps.

Before getting onto the trail proper I noticed the chalk artists had been keeping busy, shifting from sidewalks to walls. More power to their tiny arms.

Once on the trails north of Menaul, it became apparent that I was very much not alone. Happily, you can see company coming a long ways off out there, so I changed course as necessary to maintain the proper socialist distancing. Arroyos are good. Mostly I’m the only guy who seems to like walking the arroyos.

We’re still limited to outings “necessary for health, safety, and welfare,” and I consider that mine are. We’re talking an hour to 90 minutes tops. It’s a small price for society to pay to keep me off the roof and the Marlin .357 lever-action in its case.

Plus I am in The Media™. So there, pffffbbblllffffhh.

Also, if I feel a sneeze coming on while I’m out there prowling the arroyos — it is allergy season — I dig a cathole and bury it. No medals, please; you know what a selfless, modest Man of the People® I am.

Breaking trail

April 28, 2020

Looking north along Trail 365 from below Piedra Lisa Arroyo, just east of Camino de la Sierra.

Closer to home, just south of Comanche.

Yesterday I took a brisk three-mile hike on the circuit that did for my ankle back in February.

I skipped the part of the loop where the actual injury occurred. Seems like there are more and more people out every day, as the temps inch upwards into the 70s and above, and I didn’t want to brush up against any plague carriers.

But damn, didn’t it feel nice to get off the asphalt and concrete for a change?

On my uppers

August 30, 2017

Duke City as seen from the Sandia foothills.

I piddled away a bunch of daylight early yesterday doing bits of this and that, and come 10 a.m. I was in the mood for the great outdoors but not quite sure how to approach it.

Finally I loaded a Gregory day pack, pulled on my old Vasque Clarion boots and went for a short hike in the Sandia foothills. I have some marching to do next month, at Interbike, and it never hurts to refresh the old muscle memory, especially old muscles and old memory.

Shoes for industry.

Wise choice, as it turns out. On the way home my decrepit hiking boots performed what Herself, a former outdoor-equipment retailer, called “a de-lam’.” Both soles basically crumbled and peeled away at the heels.

“Sonofabitch,” I observed. “I’ve only had these boots since the elves made them for that down-on-his-luck cobbler, and what a steal they were, too. Or was it Elvis? Anyway, curses, etc.”

So home I flapped, like a nattily dressed hobo. And now I get to buy some new boots. I feel happier than Carrie Bradshaw with a Manolo Blahnik catalog.

Moving in, on, and around and about

October 9, 2014
The main living area at Rancho Pendejo. A couple Brangoccios will soon adorn that far wall.

The main living area at Rancho Pendejo. A couple Brangoccios will soon adorn that far wall.

Rancho Pendejo is coming together, bit by bit, inch by inch.

The Pink Room is now Livable Green, as is the master bedroom. The living room is likewise livable, but not green, with the furniture more or less arranged, some works from my old college pal Michael Brangoccio on the walls, and the home-theater setup ticking along nicely, serving up Blu-Ray, streaming video via Mac Mini, and KUNM-FM. And the kitchen is open for business whenever I’m inclined to cook, which lately is not often. Folks actually make edible grub here, and it’s been fun playing culinary explorer.

The bike stops here: Just east of Rancho Pendejo sits the Cibola wilderness.

The bike stops here: Just east of Rancho Pendejo sits the Cibola wilderness.

We’ve also been exploring the local trails, which are abundant, eclectic and accessible pretty much from the front door.

The excellent Tramway bike path can be found just a couple blocks west on Comanche Road. And there’s a bike lane on Comanche itself that runs most of the way west to the North Diversion Channel Trail. The Paseo del Norte trail will get you there, too, but there are a few hiccups along the way.

Just a couple blocks east is Foothills Trail 365, a short stretch of which makes a nice out-and-back run for Herself. I’ve been hiking around and about there, jogging the uphills to see how the knees feel, and yesterday I took the Voodoo Nakisi out for a short exploratory ride on the trails that fan out from 365 and stumbled across the entrance to a bit of local wilderness, all of three miles from Rancho Pendejo. Fat city.

We got a light rain last night, and there’s more of the same in the forecast, so I’ll probably give the trails a rest today, maybe have a whang at the Tramway instead. It goes without saying that neither of the two bikes I brought from Bibleburg sports fenders. Duh.


September 6, 2013
A section of the Edna Mae Bennet Trail, which leads to the Templeton Trail.

A section of the Edna Mae Bennet Trail, which leads to the Templeton Trail.

Man, it got hot again all of a sudden.

We went from a pleasantly damp monsoon season straight back into summer, no matter what the calendar says.

This is good news for Manitou Springs, whose residents get a chance to chisel all the dried mud out of their basements, autos, and nostrils, but it makes for some steamy afternoons here in the office, which sits on the hot end of the house.

A little rain might help keep me in that office, which is where I need to be, having a few deadlines to beat before toddling off to Interbike. But the rule is that when the sun shines, vigorous exercise shall be taken, and outdoors, too.

By the time that’s over and done with, I feel a tad fatigued for some reason and crave a frosty beverage, a nosh and perhaps a nap. Thus work suffers. No wonder the economy is in such a parlous state.

Looking upward from the Templeton Trail, just east of Union and Austin Bluffs.

Looking upward from the Templeton Trail, just east of Union and Austin Bluffs.

Lately I’ve been alternating rides with hikes, generally in Palmer Park. I used to run the trails there quite a bit, but the knees don’t seem interested in that sort of thing anymore. So I hike instead, which is an acceptable substitute. I seem to trip and fall down a good deal less, anyway.

And if you pick the right trail, you can get plenty of vertical gain, as you can see from the pix. I can’t believe we used to ride these things back in the day.

And when I say “we,” I mean, “somebody else.” I was walking them even then.

• Late update: Herself and I did our part to rein in the idiots this afternoon by voting not to recall state Sen. John Morse, who fell afoul of the gun nuts. Lord, single-issue fuckwits give me a brain cramp with their political temper tantrums. You don’t like the way the man works, vote him out in the next regularly scheduled election — that’s why we have ’em. These pissants remind me of a toddler screwing up his chubby little mug right before spitting out the creamed spinach.