Archive for the ‘Hiking’ Category

Out out out!

October 17, 2020

No disrespect intended to the men and women of the U.S. Postal Service, but this absentee ballot is being hand-delivered.

We have voted the rascals out. You’re welcome.

Yesterday we voted ourselves out, for a quick five-mile march through the foothills.

Walking the Dog. Photo: Herself

It was a brisk morning, and we didn’t get out until noonish, because the sun doesn’t clear the Sandias at Rancho Pendejo until sometime after 9 and we’re rarely in a rush unless Herself has a long list of chores to be accomplished, which come to think of it is almost always.

The Merrell Moab 2 Mid Ventilator boots have broken in nicely after about 20 miles of light hoofing, and this morning I planted one of them in Adolf Twitler’s oversized fundament, metaphorically speaking.

It’s my second try at kicking his fat butt; let’s hope this time it helps do the job.

If the boots get ’er done, I’ll buy a second pair, because it seems that every time I find footwear that suits my dogs, that model is instantaneously discontinued and replaced with some Nazi bondage gear.

There’s always the stick, of course. But I don’t think the SS boyos will let me anywhere near Adolf if I’m waving Ol’ Hickory around and screeching about going all Andy Jackson on his ass.

 

It’s a wash

October 7, 2020

The Granite Face on the Whitewash Trail is no place for an elderly fella with a dodgy ankle. But I’ll probably hike up the sonofabitch anyway.

Once I saw a young man yell “look” in the lobby and let his prick hang out; he closed his overcoat then and tried to run out the door, rather swirled clumsily in the revolving door. One woman screamed but most people shrugged.  Depressing. He needed help. A lock on his zipper for beginners. — Jim Harrison, “Wolf.”

Faced with the ceaseless weenie-wagging that constitutes our national politics it’s easy to forget that the world remains a remarkable place.

Yesterday during a brief hike in the Sandia foothills my iPhone hooted. It was a text from Apple advising me that it had received my MacBook Pro, shipped the previous day, and that the agreed-upon repairs would commence directly.

It was not that long ago that I would have had to wait until I got home and checked the answering machine to see whether the typewriter repairman had gotten around to my Royal manual yet.

Of course, my hip pocket was a quieter place back then, what with no mobile phone and a wallet that bordered on the anorexic; no matter how I stuffed it with money it always vomited it up somewhere.

And if I’d wanted to snap any photos during the hikes I was mostly not taking I would’ve had to pack along the Pentax MX camera I had acquired in a trade with an iffy acquaintance. I got the camera, some cash, and a bit of the old nose whiskey, and he got my S&W .41 Magnum (I was slightly overgunned at the time).

Later this gent would draw a short stretch at Club Fed in Texas, not far from where Apple is resolving the shortcomings of my MacBook. Not for anything involving the .41 Mag, or me, happily. Last I heard he had become a respectable citizen and taxpayer, a credit to society, just like Your Humble Narrator.

Time passes, and things change. For instance, it was probably fortunate for me that I shipped my MacBook in when I did. Just this morning MacRumors noted that this mid-2014 edition of the venerable 15-inch laptop will be added to Apple’s list of vintage and obsolete products come Halloween.

The 13-inch model I’m using to create this post is already on the list, as are all the other Macs in the house, save the iPhones and iPads. The 2014 MacBook Pros are supposed to remain eligible for service indefinitely, says MacRumors … “subject to parts availability.”

Boo. …

Wash and rinse

September 1, 2020

Arroyo, with a side of agua fria, coming up.

I had just turned into the cul-de-sac when it started raining.

My timing couldn’t have been better. I had left El Rancho Pendejo 90 minutes earlier for a brisk morning march along various foothills trails, because the weather wizards were predicting thundershowers. And when I turned around, up by Embudo Dam, I saw that they did not lie.

The Sandman cometh.

So I cranked up the pace a bit as the skies darkened, and then darkened some more. The wind sprang up, as it will, out of the north. Onward.

Finally, just past Candelaria on Trail 365, I broke into a run. Or what I call a run, anyway. A runner might disagree, or perhaps just laugh out loud.

And then, boom, just as I got home, the skies opened up and pissed rain … for a solid minute. Maybe two.

Oh, well. In the desert, two minutes of rain is better than none.

Desert crapshoot

August 25, 2020

We’re a little light on shade out here in the foothills.

“It’s been a pretty sad monsoon season across New Mexico,” says weather wizard Daniel Porter over to the Albuquerque Journal.

Truer words, etc. Water use has risen in one of the driest summers in a decade. And the phrase “hot as balls” gets used almost daily at El Rancho Pendejo, because somebody around here has a predilection for coarse language.

A sudden deluge has a go at pounding down the dust.

I wore a big-ass Carhartt boonie hat and plenty of sunscreen for my five-mile hike yesterday, well above the haze drifting along the Rio Grande. I’ll pay attention to an air-quality alert when I can’t see my shoes through the smoke and my shorts are on fire.

Still, it was as hot as balls out there. I forgot a handkerchief and had to lift my lid periodically to drag a paw across my soggy noggin.

Come evening the universe decided we deserved a break. Out of nowhere it suddenly rained good and hard, if only for a short while, and we threw open the windows and doors to let the cool breeze blast through the joint.

Nothing is likely to cool the fevered lowbrows at the GOP ‘s Nuremberg rally, alas. Short of putting the lot of ’em in the deep freeze for a few dozen campaign cycles, that is. Don’t look for links. They’re all missing. Badaboom, badabing.

Ash Thursday?

August 20, 2020

Looping around to the west-northwest and the Indian School trailhead.

A fine haze hovered above the Rio as I hiked around the Foothills trails yesterday.

A neighbor remarked that it looked like a “Star Wars” scene set on Tatooine.

And come evening, all that vaporized forest certainly made for a thrilling sunset.

The photo really doesn’t do it justice. The sun was as red as Sauron’s Eye, and it vanished long before the actual horizon in an impenetrable cloud of smoke. Whether it came from the Medio fire near Santa Fe or one of the many, many others scattered around the West, I have no idea.

I had been thinking about a nice long road ride this morning, but now I’m not so sure. I like my air a little less chewy.

Rocky road

August 14, 2020

As you can see from the Candelaria Bench Trail, there are already too many people driving around and about in Albuquerque.

I’ve never liked driving to a workout. Just point me to the nearest door that doesn’t have four wheels underneath and I’ll go right on through, have me a bit of fun.

Looking northwest, toward the Sandia Crest.

One of the selling points of El Rancho Pendejo was its proximity to dirt. Eastbound Comanche Road plows straight into Foothills Trail 365 just past Camino de la Sierra. And the Linear Trail is just a couple blocks to the west.

The LT, your basic manicured suburban crushed-granite path, is a better warmup for off-road cycling, as 365 includes a challenging rockpile I can’t ride just a few minutes down the trail, above Candelaria Road. That’s a good spot for a digger even while afoot, being sprinkled liberally with pea gravel.

But if I am afoot, 365 gives more bang for the buck. All manner of unmarked trails snake upward into the Sandias, where I can get a good long look at what a mess we’ve made of the Albuquerque Basin.

Glance north or east from the Candelaria Bench Trail and it’s easier on the eyes. But you can still see the houses creeping up the hills like very slow and expensive locusts.

There’s a trail. Right there. No, there. I’ve been up and down it.
Up is easier.

The trail starts off stupid-steep where Comanche meets the mountain, and it finishes in the same way, down by Candelaria. But in between there’s this pleasant grassy bench to explore.

Today Herself and I spent about 90 minutes bushwhacking around just below the bench, trying to find an easier route up the north side. No luck.

We did manage to startle a trio of fawns, who looked a lot more confident than we did navigating the cactus-studded hillside. For my part I was making liberal use of my Brazos walking stick, which I’m starting to think of as a portable ADA handrail.

You want something like that, maybe some stout gloves, and some heavy-duty canvas shorts for the southwest descent to 365. Earlier in the week I talked to another hiker who confessed to sliding down the steep bits on her butt.

My dogs are barking

August 5, 2020

Ordinarily if I’m enjoying this view it’s from the saddle of a bike,
not via shank’s mare.

Cycling has taken a back seat — actually, a garage hook — to hiking.

I don’t know why. Yet here I am, having hiked 20 miles in the past few days.

It seemed like a good idea at the time. Until this afternoon, when the legs and feet feel a tad abused for some reason, as though they had been et by a coyote and shit off a cliff.

The last couple days I’ve been hiking trails that I used to ride before The Bug came to town. The change in perspective is interesting. I’ve spotted social trails that I never noticed from the saddle, plus a few old fencelines that make me glad I didn’t major in Stringing Fence Up Steep Slopes.

Exploring an unfamiliar trail is a little easier because I don’t have to put a foot down and mumble, “Oh, shit, can’t ride that.”

Also, bits I’ve historically been unable to ride? I look at them on foot and think, “Why can’t I ride that?”

Dodging the clueless is likewise simpler. Almost nobody seems grounded in trail etiquette these days, or even schooled in the concept of a shared public space, so I just step aside and wave the dummies on.

What the hell? The world is full of dummies, and worse than dummies, too. You can’t clout them all with your hiking stick. Or you shouldn’t, anyway. You might break your stick.

Five months

July 22, 2020

Waiting on the “provider” at urgent care on Feb. 21. Is it just me,
or does “The Provider” sound like a third-tier Marvel superhero?

That’s how long it’s been since I broke my right ankle, getting an early jump (har de har har) on lockdown.

This one-two punch certainly restricted my movement, even without the intervention of the 101st Vanborne, which is said to be en route. Since Feb. 21, I haven’t ventured north of Tramway and Interstate 25, east of Carnuel, south of I-40, or west of Interstate 25.

In an ordinary year I would have hightailed it at least once by now, to Arizona or Colorado. At the very least I would have cycled around the bosque, ridden up to the Triangle, or even tackled a short tour. If the State is going to track me, I want the sonsabitches to work up a sweat.

But 2020 has been anything but ordinary, in terms of personal mobility, global pandemic, and creeping fascism.

Bad ankle! Bad, bad, bad! Get in that boot and stay there, thinking about what you’ve done.

Re: personal mobility. I gassed up the Forester the day before breaking the ankle, but I didn’t fill ’er up again until last Thursday.

This means that in the past five months, I’ve driven maybe 300 miles, which is what I get from a tank of gas when motoring around Albuquerque. Bum ankle notwithstanding, I’m pretty sure I’ve walked more than that.* For sure I’ve cycled more (943.8 miles).

By the way, this cycling mileage is not impressive, even for a 66-year-old gimp. My best week since the mishap saw me ride all of 80 miles. The worst? Three-point-five. Seriously. It was March 7, I was on the trainer with my Darth Bootsy footwear, and I lasted a whole half hour.

The good news is, I’m biking and hiking regularly, and the ankle continues its slow, steady rehabilitation.

The bad news is, I don’t think I can outrun one of those federales in the cammy-jammies if he catches me off the bike. And that dodgy right foot is the one I use to kick annoyances in the balls.

* OK, so I’ve only walked 123.7 miles. I had to check.

Just another manic Monday

July 20, 2020

Anybody else feel like their rhythm is a little off? Like you’re dancing with one foot in a bucket?

Makes it hard to shake your moneymaker, that’s for sure.

Today we had a routine AC/furnace check on The List, and in Plague Time these things are scheduled in a window rather than on the dot. Ours was from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., which is a really big dot. Basically a picture window.

I took five at the Piedra Lisa parking lot to snap a quick pic while letting a fleet-footed woman blast past.

I didn’t like the view, but there it was. I usually do a medium-long hike on Mondays, but we both overslept and by the time the morning chores got done I had about 45 minutes to work with if the dude was closer to 10 than 2. Herself had the usual conga line of nightmares moonwalking through her office and I didn’t want to slip another foot-dragging zombie into the mix.

So, boom, I’m out, I’m back. Zip and zip and zip. So pro. No word from the dude. So I figure I’ll do a little light resistance training just ’cause. The phone rings halfway through, a number I don’t recognize, but I pick up on the off chance it’s the dude, which of course it is. He’s five minutes away and on the move.

Anyway, we passed the checkup. The heat heats and the cool cools. I managed a third of a hike and half of a weights session. Herself made bank. What’s not to like?

Speaking of which, here are two new recipes worth a look:

A simple no-cook pizza sauce from Kitchn. Herself likes these corn-meal pizza crusts from Vicolo and with two of those, this sauce, some mozzarella, a little leftover turkey-taco meat, and a handful of chopped black olives and mushrooms, we had two nights of dinner dialed in.

Turmeric and black-pepper chicken with asparagus, from Ali Slagle at The New York Times. This was really good. Simple and quick and versatile and really, really good. It goes into the rotation. But “serves four” me bollocks. The only reason we didn’t eat it all at one sitting was that we wanted some leftovers for the next day’s lunch.

The bad news: Our local Penzey’s Spices shop is closed. And that ominous oinking you’ve been hearing from Portland? It may be coming soon to a town near you.

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.