I set my alarm last night for the ungodly hour of 5:30 am for a Saturday morning. Theoretically one could sleep in on a Saturday, but when you have this itch to climb the mountain in the monsoon season, then early it is.
The monsoon season pushes moisture up into New Mexico from the Gulf of Mexico and as air is pushed over the mountains it rises and we have the makings of a thunderstorm factory, right here in my back yard. I tried to take a shot of the storms building over the mountain yesterday, but the battery in my briefcase camera was dead. So I’m substituting an image from a couple of years ago that shows what happens around 10 to 11 every morning when there is a big flow of moisture.
After being caught a couple of times in serious lightning, hail and torrential downpours, I’ve decided that during monsoon season there is only one answer to this problem, and that is to finish early and get off of the mountain before the rain begins
Today’s forecast was for possible thunderstorms in the morning but the sky looked clear enough that I left my rain gear in my trunk. Once I pulled out my backpack I had to deal with a leaking water supply but fortunately none of the water got onto the camera and I set out on climb number four. Time on the trail: 6:45am. The big time challenge is in place for me but I always have to remember that my best time ever was achieved without taking one single photograph on the hike.
I confess that I can pass up most things, but when the light is just right, or the subject is a flower to be added to the “collection” then I have to stop and pull out the camera. This morning I was plodding along for about a half an hour when I looked to the left and saw that downtown Albuquerque was highlighted by the early morning sun and I had to stop.
Granted, at this size you can’t see much, so the full sized panorama is here.
I took another series that shows the larger Albuquerque metro area
The larger panorama is here.
After I hiked on Wednesday I uploaded my route to Garmin Connect and then looked at the trail on Google Earth. While doing so I decided that perhaps I could do some bush whacking that would cut of a portion of the trail, so today I set out to see if I could find an alternative route. The route was just ok, and I’m pretty sure I can make a modification of it for tomorrow.
Meanwhile I did have to stop and shoot these, since I am almost certain that I’ve not taken a photo of whatever this is. (Larger image over at the photo blog) Now that I’ve decided on writing in this format I will have more time to change the galleries over and to post the wildflowers of the Sandias that I’ve been working on all spring.
Since the day was quite cloudy I passed on several other flowers that I figure I can try for tomorrow. I got to the tram just as it was pulling away, so in the 15 minutes that I had to wait I took this image of the view to the south peak.
Larger image here.
For most people it probably doesn’t mean much, but all that cloud cover is evidence of what the monsoon season is all about. I took this at about 10 after 10 making the summit in just three hours and 20 minutes. That’s not bad for a 4,100 foot climb over six and a half miles that ends up a 10,400 feet. I could add another couple of hundred feet and end up at the actual summit, but it makes for a longer trip.
I was hoping to get to the pool and swim this afternoon but the clouds rolled in and this is what sat over the summit for over two hours.
It’s incredibly unusual for rain to last here for more than 20 minutes, so the fact that the mountain got a two hour soaking means that by next weekend the wildflowers should pop out again, especially at the high elevations. I’m so glad I was off the mountain when this rolled in. Unfortunately the trail may be a bit muddy tomorrow, it’s something that we almost never have to deal with except during the spring snow melt.
Now all I need are night time storms and some lightning and we are off to the races.