A Walk in the Park – Sacramento Mountains, NM
There’s an old saying that goes something along the lines “it was uphill both ways”. A jaunt along the 85 mile (137 km) Sacramento Mountain Range might give you very much this impression. These voluptuous creations rise with striking abruptness out of the Tularosa Basin just east of Alamogordo and provide sheer sides of uphill and stunning views of the valley and White Sands Monument. We’d been basking in their shadow ever since we arrived at Oliver Lee State Park and finally decided to bite the bullet and take the “dog canyon” hike (with pooch in tow naturally), a friendly ~5 mile one-way hike (yes, that would make it 10 miles round-trip for those of mathematical inclination) with an inviting 3,100 feet of uphill. Just a little walk in the park, after all…
And yeah it was mostly uphill, both ways. But it was also gorgeous, deserted and took us through a natural storytale from the Chihuahuan desert to grassland and piñon-juniper woodland. The beautiful thing about a hike like this is that it eliminates almost all hikers up-front. I have a theory which I loosely name the inverse square law of hiking, whereby the number of hikers you come across drops with a natural inverse-square law the further you go on a trail. It’s an amazing, but true natural phenomenon and the very reason we’re almost always alone on our trails.
So, we set out bright and early, loaded with half our bodyweight in water and braved the climb. It’s hard to capture the vastness of the experience in pictures or words, but many views are the type that take your breath away. And we did make it, mostly. Pooch had a rather easier time of it having a natural-born 4-paw-drive steering system and seemingly endless positive energy of supply. Our clumsy 2-foot system was rather less efficient, but managed nonetheless. Suffice to say the walk was wonderful and brunch thereafter rather exquisite. A lovely walk in the park, indeed!
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