Sunday, June 1, 2014

After Work Hike - Tunnel Spring - Agua Sarca

We discovered this trail a couple weekends ago. A neighbor brought me to the trailhead while we were visiting a nearby artist during the Placitas Studio Tour weekend. If she hadn't shown it to me I would have been hesitant to go the two or so miles up the dirt road that looked private. Once you are almost there you can see the official markers, then parking area, bathroom, interpretive signs and trails. From out on the main Placitas road (Highway 165) we have always seen a bright green patch of trees and wondered about water. There are several patches of cottonwoods that cluster where there is either surface or underground water. Right now the bright green new leaves look spectacular when the sun is right and it is always perfect at some point, illuminating them into almost unnatural shades of brilliance!

Jeff met me in the parking lot around 5:30. We got going quickly since the 5 mile loop we wanted to do takes about 2 and 1/2 hours to do. This time we did the steep canyon ascent first up to the top trail and then followed it around the crest and around and around until we got back to the cars. This same green patch we parked at looks quite a bit different from different elevations. We started at about 6,300 feet and went up to about 7,200. We had sweeping views out toward the west.
The steep canyon short cut was really steep and seemed to take a long time to traverse. We saw a little bit of surface water and a lot of neat rock formations. There was even a mine opening in the hillside we peeked into (it is gated). Up we went looking up toward the trail on the side of the mountain. The trail follows the side of the mountain and depending on how you go will connect with other trails including the Sandia Crest Trail. Jeff has done a section of that trail from Albuquerque and almost ended up here! Once we were up the canyon the trail had some elevation changes but they were a lot more gradual. Cactus were blooming, a couple kinds, and many looked like they were ready to burst into bloom. I'm going to need to go up later this week to check out their progress!

This trail has a lot of neat rock formations and excellent views. Mostly I like that it is 15 minutes from the house. The light in New Mexico is amazing and the landscape changes as the light changes. This trail is great in the afternoon as the sun is setting and all the views change from reds to pastels and back as the sun does its thing.

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