Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Embudito Canyon, Sandia Mountains New Mexico

East of Tramway on Montgomery Blvd, then Left on Glenwood Hills Dr for 1/3 mile, Right on Trailhead Road (sign 'hidden by trees' Embudito Trail) Just a very quick hike today up the Embudito (little funnel) Canyon from the parking lot in the foothills area of Glenwood Hills. The lot is large and many cars are there most of the day. The signs warn about leaving any valuables in the car.

Predators are everywhere in today's society. Most are career repeat offenders, released back into society to prey on the taxpayers that payed both the prosecution and defense attorneys, to get them released from any charges. Job assurance all of the way around.

Obey the warning sign about hours. If the patrol is around, they lock the gates at either 8 or 9 pm depending on time of year. Your car could be stuck there overnight. I always carry a pack designed for overnight, whether I am walking for a couple of hours or all day. You never can be sure about conditions or unforeseen circumstances.

This little hike on the North Eastern edge of Albuquerque, was to check on the waterfall and stream that feeds it. Last time I hiked the canyon, the stream was flowing vigorously from snow melt off the mountain above.

The decayed Granite bed of the Embudito Arroyo is a fairly straight shot up to the granite waterfall. Several other hikers were in the lower arroyo trail this day. Many were walking dogs. The dogs always enjoy the hikes. The entrance offers two separate trails shortly after leaving the parking lot.

The first trail choice is signed 365 and leads along the edge of the city, parallel to Tramway. The left trail within 100 yards (#192) takes you up onto the ridge on the North side of the arroyo. This is the re-routed trail. Eventually you would come out overlooking the small waterfalls and the canyon below. If you continue on up, eventually you would come to a trail to South Peak. From there you can access the trail to the crest or have various alternatives. I would strongly suggest getting a copy of 'Sandia Mountain Hiking Guide' by Mike Coltrin, if you are interested in going further on any of these trails.

This day I stayed in the canyon bottom on the old trail and just enjoyed the hike past cactus and scrub brush and into the shady scrub trees and up into the wet stream bed. A very big Road Runner, like the one Coyote is always trying to catch, let me get within about 20 feet, before running up the edge of the arroyo. He then went about his business of searching for lizards or any prey easily grabbed for a

One other warning sign informed to be on the lookout for Rattle Snakes. Sometimes they are basking in the sun along side the trails, so stay alert and away from the out crops of brush while you walk. The bed of the arroyo is wide and gradually climbs for about a half mile to the two concrete water reservoirs set in place to hold an amount of water for Deer, or any other thirsty critters in dry periods. Many animal tracks were visible this early morning.

The lower tank was dry and the upper tank was full. The tanks are in need of maintenance. Some of the wall area is decayed and the upper tank leaks before the overflow into the lower tank can be transferred. I continued to climb above the tanks into the big rocks comprising the waterfall. Years ago an effort was made to support the ledge which forms the waterfall in wet periods. The concrete and support pipes are still visible on the base foundation.

I continued up the worn granite surface with its grit polished 'tilt', offering little traction. Another younger couple turned back at this point because the woman felt intimidated by the slick rock scramble. Soon I was alone and still climbing. The second rock waterfall is a little more tricky. It is about 6 feet high but has an outcropping ledge to step on while scrambling higher.

At this point, I just stopped and watched the dozen or so very small gray birds that escorted me this far. It seems they enjoy flitting from bush to bush, ahead of hikers until they reach some predetermined area, then returning back down the trail to start over with the next human of interest.

Seeing as I was alone on this hike, I saw no need to risk going much higher through the huge rocks in the stream bottom this day. As I made the descent back to the tanks, I noticed many large rocks thrown into the reservoirs. Taking off my backpack, I set to the job of pulling them all out.

That water is freezing cold. My hands got numb from the repeated dunks. After many sun warmings, I had the rocks all out and packed near the concrete outer edge and then carried many handfulls of decayed granite to pack around them, somewhat stemming the waste of water pressure at the tank's cracked edge.

This endeavor may eventually help fill the second tank. The frequent flash flooding through the canyon, starts the eroding process all over again. The mountain neighborhood association apparently cleans away the loose granite that fills the tanks from time to time. The flow transfer pipes are filled and no longer work except for one direct pipe about 2 inches in diameter.

I may try to locate some hydraulic cement at a future date and try to repair the crack in the first tank. It takes a little work to carry in supplies. This is a National Forest and only non mechanized forms of transportation are allowed. The time was past lunch and I brought no sandwich this day, so began the trek back down to the car. The rabbit I saw on the hike up, was in the same spot on the way down. It must feel comfortable in that area.

Most of the cars that were parked or parking when I got there, were now gone. A few still waited for their owners to return. This trail system has many alternative routes. Most trails interconnect to other parking lots along the western face of the Sandia Mountains. If you plan your hikes, leave a second vehicle at the destination of your choice.

The possibility of going all of the way to the top, about a vertical mile above the city, is always a fun prospect..if you are abundant in the energy category. The City of Albuquerque has acquired hundreds of acres of 'Open Space' interwoven into the edges of the National Forest. Many trails are multi-use, such as horses and bicycles, so be alert for sharing the trails.

The time I spent leisurely hiking the trail on this day, was about three hours. Of course the tank work took up some of it and my frequent stops to enjoy the silence, used even more time. Being retired gives me that luxury to enjoy our USA up close and personal. "One Nation Under God" as it has always been.


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