Hiking relaxing getaway

By Clyde Davis: CNJ columnist

I remember the old story, or analogy, about not being able to see the forest for the trees. The reality, which underlies so much of life, is that we cannot find that which is right in front of us.

The story applies, among other areas, to summer and the beauty of this state.

Certainly, many of us are making less trips to Albuquerque than we used to, due to gas prices. Nonetheless, it is still relatively easy, comparatively cheap, and the same distance that it has always been.

Actually, this article does not concern Albuquerque proper, but rather the Sandia Mountains. I had the chance to take a morning hike up the Pino trail, which is a trail barred to mountain bikers and horses, and was able to cover a good bit of the distance up the particular ridge before I had to come back down and return to reality.

I hope you haven’t failed to notice that, almost anywhere in Albuquerque, the Sandias are an overshadowing presence. However, I think that if you are capable of doing so, you really can benefit from getting up close and personal with them.

In case you are wondering whether you are capable, please note that the word I use is hike, not climb. I suppose there are some who go straight up the rock face, but the majority of the public hiking trails are well groomed and accessible to a person in reasonably fit condition. Gravel covers a trail which, in many areas, is wide enough to go two abreast.

Always before you is the rock face of the mountains themselves, and the forested sides which garland it. Not only does it give the hiker a point of reference, but it keeps one focused on why hikes matter.

Be prepared to share the trail, not only with other humans but with wildlife. Even though it is shouting distance of Tramway Road, there is plenty of evidence that mule deer and coyotes may be on the same path. I know that other wildlife roams the area, but with the limited time span, I didn’t get far enough in to encounter anything else.

Summer hiking in the desert mountains, the common sense rules should be self-evident, but remember that your water supply is important. I do not know about anyone else, but for me, one of the signs of dehydration is dizziness. While the trail is easy, there are still places where dizziness could bring bad results.

I know that, for myself and many other hikers, our enjoyment of the cross country outdoors predates the cell phone. However, I have not gone alone into the woods since the late 1990s without one, and would not highly recommend it.

On this particular morning, I saw many others hiking or running the trail, and the chance of an injured person getting stranded would be small. However, on any given day, that might not be the case.

I hope that, if you have a mind too, you can make it up to the Sandia wilderness and enjoy some of it on foot. In any case, I hope you get a chance to enjoy some aspects of the New Mexico outdoors this summer.

Clyde Davis is pastor of First Presbyterian Church in Portales and a college instructor. He can be contacted at: clyde_davis@yahoo.com