It was our next to last day in New Mexico and Jim wanted to go through the Cibola National Forest and go up to the peak of the Sandia Mountains that
overlook Albuquerque. He had mentioned when we first arrived that the mountains had their own weather very much separate from the city at the base! I was soon to see that first hand.
Info from Wikipedia:
The Sandia Mountains, are a mountain range located in Bernalillo and Sandoval counties, immediately to the east of the city of Albuquerque in New Mexico in the southwestern United States. The range is largely within the Cibola National Forest, and part of the range is protected as the Sandia Mountain Wilderness.
On the way up:
Since the only way up the mountain on the east side is via a tramway, we made the trip through the desert and came around to the west side of the mountains.
We drove up to the crest where there is a large parking area and the Sandia Crest House. We unloaded our camera gear, put on our heavy jackets, as it was very cold, and headed for one of the trails that go up to and along the peak.
On the trail:
There was a light coating of snow on the trees and ground so I had a great time making images of the trees with the snow on them.
The trail wound through the forest where there were many pines and aspens. This was so different from our previous adventures!
There was a slight incline as the trail approached the cliff on the east side of the mountain. We found an old hikers way house up there. Not someplace I would like to spend the night! That window overlooks the edge of the cliff!
The trail went along the cliff, back toward the parking area from here. I was not too thrilled to go to the edge but Jim went over there right away!
I did venture over there as I did not have much choice as the trail was there! It was very foggy so that made looking down even more creepy.
The trail branched off toward a grove of golden aspens so we walked over there to get some more aspen images.
As we left the grove, there was a very noticeable change in the weather. The wind picked up and the temperature dropped. Shortly a light snow started to fall.
There were 2 trail choices at this point and I insisted on the one that was not so close to the edge of the cliff. I was also happy that I kept a pair of gloves and a headband ear wrap in the pocket of my heavy jacket as even with both of my hoods up, I was getting very cold!
As we walked through the forest the snow was lighter as the trees above were stopping it. There were still a few things to shoot along the way.
As I was making the image above, that was in the open and close to the end of the trail, the snow started to really come down. The consistency was very strange, nothing like I remember as a kid in upper state NY. Within a few minutes, the wind was blowing the snow so hard it was hard to see or walk. We made our way up the slippery stairs at the back of the Sandia Crest House. When we got to the entrance we were covered with snow! We had to shake like dogs to get it off before going inside.
At the crest:
I was so glad the lodge was up there. They have a wonderful view but they also have a fantastic snack bar and a huge gift shop. The hot sandwich and 2 hot chocolates got my energy back up and my body temperature back to normal! We did some shopping and managed to critique the photographs we saw displayed for sale!
The snow fell for about 30 minutes and then stopped. We could see the car in the parking lot and it had about 2 inches on the roof & hood.
We stepped out on to the deck that overlooks Albuquerque. The snow on the deck was also very weird feeling underfoot. But the view was amazing!
Once the sun was out for a few minutes, the snow on the car and the road melted pretty quickly. So we bundled up and headed back to the car.
On our trip back to the condo another weather phenomenon presented itself. See my next post coming very soon, “Chasing Rainbows”!
For these and more images from the Sandia Mountains please click any image above or check out my Gallery
That is all for now!