We flew into Albuquerque for a wedding, arriving late and then getting up early the next morning for a hike. I haven’t hiked in the desert in a while so I was worried about the heat, but we started early enough that it was only in the 60s. We were in the city of Albuquerque’s Elena Gallegos Open Space, which seems to be a really cool public park with lots of multi-use trails. The way was mostly flat at first, but once we entered the Sandia Mountain Wilderness in Cibola National Forest on the Domingo Baca Trail, we started to climb.
I was so excited to see desert flowers and blooming cacti again, which I hadn’t seen since my time early on the PCT. Unfortunately, I could barely remember any of their names! I spent a lot of the hike racking my brain and could only come up with one or two.
The day started to heat up towards its high of 91, but luckily as we ascended the canyon, we were walking in shade along a creek for a fair portion of the hike. There were great views back to the city here and there. There were also lots of social trails through the sand and we seem to have gotten off the real trail onto one of them at some point.
We used Gaia GPS to see where we were in relation to the trail and bushwhacked back over to it. From there it was easy to stay on the trail until we climbed to the 1955 plane wreckage that was the destination of the hike.
We had a snack break there then started to head back the way we’d come, determined to stay on the trail this time. It was a little easier to keep track of on the way back down and we did see where we thought we’d gotten off trail to begin with.
It was pretty hot as we got back into the more open space with no relief from the sun, but luckily that part of the trail was easy and quick to get through. The hike ended up being around 8 miles, longer than expected, so we were happy to head back to the city for lunch and air conditioning.