La Luz Trail

6:29 PM

Continuing with our weekend in Albuquerque... We drove to La Luz trail-head that Sunday morning in March, catching glimpses of a few of the town's famous hot-air balloons. We missed out on their giant hot-air balloon event last fall, but if we are still stuck here this coming one, we hope to attend.

La Luz trail climbs up the Sandia Mountains, and if you can make the 9 miles, takes you to the top. From there, you can walk a mile or two to the tram, which you can pay for a ride back down, and then hike another couple miles back to your car. This was what we were hoping for, as we wanted to take a tram ride and get a good hike in.

We drove up the winding road and got there early enough that we could find a parking spot in the small lot. As it was early and higher in altitude, we were feeling chilly and started our hike with our jackets. We didn't climb far, however, before we had them tied around our waists. The trail was uphill the whole way there. It was surprising to pass many people on their way down already. We asked each one whether they had made it to the top, as we were desirous to know if one could make it or if there was too much snow. Each person laughed and said something to the effect of, "Oh, no, we weren't planning on going that far. We just turned around part-way up."

So we tramped on, in hopes that we wouldn't be forced to turn around after all the climbing. A couple miles in, we were disappointed to come across snow and ice on the trail. One step on to it and I was immediately slipping and sliding. We had previously agreed that if we came across snow on the trail, that we would do the smart thing and turn around, because obviously it would only get worse from there. Spencer was so sad, he told me that he just wanted to go a little further to see if it cleared up. I waited a few minutes until he returned, informing me that it looked better not too far up ahead. He held my hand and helped me meander through the ice until we were in the clear.

Toughing it out was the right choice and well rewarded, too. It turned out that it was clear for another couple miles. Past this point, we saw few people. The ones that did, though, were much more helpful. They, too, however, did not hike to the top. We were informed that there was a "lookout: that most people turn around at," because past that was too icy. Our goals switched to making it at least that far.

At the lookout was an old ranger, who we were surprised to see had made it all the way up the mountain. The lookout was about five miles up from the trail-head. He held up his shaking hand and explained to us that past this point it gets very snowy and icy, and the only people that keep going are equipped with boots, walking poles, mittens and the like.

 "It turns in to winter past that point," he said. 

We took his advice and turned around there, but not until after eating our snacks and enjoying the view for a while. It was a clear day, allowing us to see the town of Albuquerque and miles past. The climb we had made had taken us quite far up. I believe we had gained 2,200 ft in elevation from the trail-head.
The five miles back down were a breeze, and found us in good spirits. Going down, we passed many more people, and we assured them that it was clear past that section of ice, and that they *could*  make it to the lookout. If not for our reassurance, a few of them would have turned around there.
We were filthy and grinning by the time we were back to the Corolla. As always, I was craving a smoothie, so we Googled one in the area and stopped by. Spencer is too much of a man to be satiated by a smoothie alone, so he ordered a sandwich from the neighboring shop.
It was early enough in the day as to where we were not in a rush to head home. We were low on gas, so I used my Gas Buddy app to search for the cheapest in town, which of course was Sam's Club. We drove up and saw it was next door to a Ross. Ross, by the way, was basically the only place I bought clothes at when I lived in California, and wished we had in Roswell. They have the best deals. My gracious husband turned to me immediately and asked if I would like to go in while he filled up the tank. He knows the way to my heart. I am not much of a shopper, but it had been forever since I had gone just because. He dropped me off and I browsed the aisles, feeling like the luckiest girl alive. After getting gas, he came to my side and gave his asked-for opinions on the items I was carrying around. He patiently waited outside the dressing room while I tried them on. Spencer has always been a sport about this. He bought me a vintage-looking, mint dress, along with some hiking capri leggings and a pair of sunglasses. My husband is amazing.

Albuquerque had hosted us nicely that weekend, and we were sorry to leave. Spencer is a trooper making the 3-hour drive so often. I usually fall asleep for a portion of it, too. It was a long drive, but we made it home safe and sound, without any car trouble.
So sad about the ice.

Gazing out on the town.

My mountain goat

Looking for dino bones?

Those same giant mountains look so small from down below.

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