Posts Tagged ‘Candelaria Bench Trail’

Benched

September 9, 2021

Looking NNW from the Candelaria Bench Trail after ascending from the southern end.

Since I didn’t seem to be suffering overmuch from Tuesday’s eight-mile hike, I decided I’d do ’er again Wednesday.

Not the same exact hike, of course. This time I paid a call on the Candelaria Bench Loop, which is right here in the ’hood.

I thought I’d get right down to business by tackling the steep and sketchy middle route up, which starts pretty much right from the northern trailhead, where Comanche dead-ends.

That’s the big city down there.

And then I thought again. Nossir, let’s have ourselves a little warmup first. Break loose a few of those old adhesions, see if the sludge will soften enough to lube the moving parts. The southern ascent will do.

It’s amazing how much a little weather will change the character of a trail, particularly one that wobbles upward like an errant bottle rocket. It was crisscrossed with ruts from runoff, grasses and cacti had closed in, and at one point about halfway up I wondered whether I had managed to wander off the trail entirely.

Nope. I arrived without incident and the Bench was as you see it. Pretty green still, especially for September, and I was the only two-legged beast in evidence, though if you linger near the Tramway side of things Albuquerque’s car culture manages to make its presence known (zoom, honk, roar, beep, crash, bang, boom, whoop whoop whoop, etc).

Up top some of the dirt was still dark with moisture, and so was I, because it was 80-something and practically windless. I cooled down by wandering around for a bit, appreciating the dearth of retail and rooftops, and then descended cautiously through the stair-stepped Valley of Boulders to Hidden Valley Road and headed for the barn.

The loss of flexibility that accompanies advancing age, buttressed by a pigheaded indifference to stretching, yoga, and resistance training, makes the descents interesting, especially when they’ve been rearranged by cascading water. At intervals I used my hickory stick like the safety rails found in certain toilet stalls, the ones with a wheelchair emblem.

Despite myself I made it down hat side up and celebrated with a delicious batch of chipotle-honey chicken tacos in the old Crock-Pot. If you ever find yourself both fatigued and famished after a hike in the hills this sumbitch is a culinary walk in the park.

Lost in the O’Zone again

April 23, 2021

The haze looped around to the north, softening the sharp lines of the Sandias.

Yesterday being Earth Day, I decided to cover a few miles of it on foot.

Walking the Candelaria Bench Loop in counterclockwise fashion I saw a couple dozen deer working it in the opposite direction. Looks like maybe they’ve been visiting the folks whose backyards abut the open space along Camino de la Sierra. Before much longer they will be paying a call on us down here in the cheap seats.

Looking southwest toward the city.

From up on the bench I noticed a haze coating the Rio. This was either courtesy of a pair of small fires down along the bosque or the ozone we seem to be having too much of lately.

We are very poor tenants indeed. No wonder the landlord is taking measures to have us evicted. Gaia being indifferent as regards race, creed, color, or religion, she dispatches plagues instead of the sheriff.

Speaking of plagues, Herself and I are due for our booster shots this weekend. If you should happen to see any posts here that look something like “Ph’nglui mglw’nafh Cthulhu R’lyeh wgah’nagl fhtagn,” with illustrations of flailing tentacles rending squealing humans into party snacks, never fear … it’s just the nanoparticles kicking in.

Elsewhere, the Elon Musk Bus Lines have resumed delivering passengers to the International Space Station. I wonder what the carbon footprint is like for that action. Probably not as bad as rush hour at the Big Eye.

No word on when the routes to Luna and Mars will be open for business. Not until the Shackleton Crater Resort & Casino is up and running, is my guess. This may take a while. The moon is remarkably short of undocumented workers to help keep the hospitality costs down.

Bench press

April 9, 2021

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.

Git along, lil’ Dog-ie

March 13, 2021

Looks a little weatherish to the north
from just below the Candelaria Bench Trail.

In mid-March last year I had a hitch in my gitalong.

All I was good for was a short stroll with crutches, or a slightly longer spin on the stationary trainer. A Darth Gimp boot gripped the broken bone like an ankle monitor. Only the mind wandered freely.

Today, with the skies darkening, the wind thundering, and the pollen scattering, I almost — almost! — decided to stay indoors.

And then I remembered last March. So out I went.

I needed a thin watch cap, mask, hoodie, henley, pants, wool socks, and thin gloves, but still. Outside! On a trail! And a rocky one, too, even worse than the one that took me down last February.

Even jogged a few bits, just ’cause I could. What a difference a year makes.

Up near where the climb to the Candelaria Bench Trail steepens, I saw seven deer peering at me from across a ravine. They’ve been thick as rush-hour traffic around our place already this year, peppering The Compound with poop.

I’m not certain what they’re after down here in the ’burbs, before spring has actually sprung. But like most Americans deer will pretty much eat whatever is convenient. Free will is an illusion, at least for certain foods.

Speaking of airline travel, which we were not, do not expect to see me boarding a flight to anywhere anytime soon until (a) The Plague is over, and (2) the drunks have a clear idea where the toilet is.

Wolf at the door, pig in a blanket

January 19, 2021

Low ceiling over Albuquerque.

The Big Bad Wolf must be in the ’hood. He spent the night huffin’, and puffin’, and tryin’ to blow our house down.

At one point I considered getting up to see if any windows or doors had been breached, because who needs deer, foxes, or the neighbor kids in the kitchen at breakfast?

Taking the long view.

But once I’m up, I’m generally up for good, so I just burrowed deeper into the covers and hoped the Wolf was after some other little piggie.

I saw it coming when I was out for a short hike yesterday, up the south side of the Candelaria Bench Trail. I didn’t go all the way up to the bench, because it was late in the day and I didn’t want to give Yahweh a free shot at me if He was thinking about pitching a few electrical fastballs.

There was only one other dude on the trail, a guy and his dog headed down.

“That’s Blue. Blue’s everybody’s friend,” the guy said, and Blue proved it by giving my outstretched hand a generous “How y’doin’?” slurp.

Alone again, I wandered around a bit, watching the clouds roll in, wishing I’d gotten an earlier start. I should really spend more time up here. Pack a lunch, bring a pad and pen, find a quiet spot in the rocks, get all pedestrian and analog for a spell. Flush out the headgear.

But yesterday was not the day. And neither is today. The Wolf is still testing the doors and windows.

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.