cloudhiking - maps and adventure guides

Site Links


Contact Us









Friends' Links

Appalachia & Beyond

Family Wilds


Marking My Territory

Outcast Hikers


732 A Bit of Warning,
a Sandia Adventure

an overlook off the La Luz Trail on Sandia Mtn

Albuquerque far below an overlook off the La Luz Trail

While my wife and I visited Albuquerque in the summer of '12, we climbed the La Luz Trail to the summit of Sandia Mountain. The peak dominates the skyline and beckons all hikers, runners, and adventurers onto its mighty slopes. However, for those who do not want to climb the mountain, they may also gain the summit by driving or riding a gondola. (You could also ride a bicycle to the summit - but that is a different challenge.) Yes, there is a road and a tramway that go to the crest of the mountain.

On our summer visit to the mountain we had started early, summited Sandia, and were headed back down the mountain, when we saw a hiker up ahead walking down the trail from the developed summit area.

Approaching the hiker we both noticed how unsteady he was. Each step seemed to be a major effort as he tried to maintain his balance. Soon we caught the hiker and asked if we could slip by. A conversation ensued.

We learned that the hiker was from Indiana, he had driven to the top of the mountain, and was planning on hiking down a few miles before returning to his vehicle near the summit. It was obvious that he had put some thought into his plan. In fact, he possibly thought the plan was cleaver, because it allowed him to hike in the cool 10,000 feet air and avoid the heat of the lower slopes.

After he had finished explaining the merits of his plan, we tried to drop hints warning of the difficulties that lay ahead. He was having trouble walking on a relatively easy section of the trail and we knew the terrain was much more difficult a short distance ahead. It is, however, difficult to give encouragement and caution in the same sentence.

We did our best.

So for a few helping tips ...

We were truly trying to help the hiker. We were concerned. We knew that the trail crossed rocky, narrow, exposed ledges.

We wanted the hiker to have a good safe hike.

Perhaps the hiker was overcoming an illness or injury, but he was clearly out of balance and having a very difficult time trying to walk. It was very odd to see someone so unstable on a trail.

Very few cleaver plans are actually cleaver when executed.

The hiker seemed to listen and understand our hints, but he was still going down the trail when we left him.

It is difficult to offer sound advice without sounding judgmental. We tried to discourage the hiker from continuing on the La Luz, but we encouraged him to find another trail to walk along the crest.

The mountain does not care if we are having a good day or a bad day, whether we are sick or well, whether we are an athlete or couch potato - the same challenges and difficulties are there for everyone. We make our own challenges and have to bear the consequences, the mountain stays the same.

Every hiker, whether a neophyte tenderfoot or a trail-worn veteran, must continually gauge the weather, terrain, and their personal physical and mental condition.

At times we all need warnings of the dangers ahead. At least the warning allows us to proceed with caution.

Happy unstable trails


cloudhiking's La Luz Trail


Name (required):

Comment (required):

Please Introduce Secure Code: