Monday, May 26, 2008

Memorable Day

The joy of three-day national holidaze; I can have a great weekend and still have a day to write about it and have more fun.
Yesterday I rolled off my porch (literally) and headed into downtown. First thing was a quick visit to an outdoor shop, and a new reservoir for my pack. From there I rolled down to the Santa Fe River (which was churning along nicely for a change)and what I lovingly refer to as the Ho Chi Minh Trail. This is a cut in the vegetation on the flood-plain of the river, mostly used by old, homeless vets (hence the name). It parallels one of the more expensive shopping streets and is basically in the heart of downtown, making it doubly fun.
When the river trail ended I was back up on the Alameda and on around to Upper Canyon Road. This is a warm climb surrounded by centuries-old adobe's, many being refurbished. At the end of this road are a couple of trailheads; some for hikers only, some fair game for all. I went left on Cerro Gordo and picked up the Dale Ball Trails on it's eastern edge. This is the biggest little trail network around, weaving in and out of the city limits, rushing beside and around private homes. And it's about as much fun as is legal here.
One of the highlights of the system is the fact that every junction is marked with a number and a mini-map. Most of the junctions are merely two ways to get to the same place, but those two routes vary greatly. You can form odd loops, figure-8's, or "try to get them all in" rides. Sometimes you'll go down one fork only to turn around and do it again just to see what the other fork was like. The terrain is a typical "high sierra" mix of sandy soil and rock, slipping into near-alpine forest at times. It can be brutally hot on the open cuts, and chillingly cool in the shade.
The vegetation is almost entirely coniferous, so you don't get much color change through the year, but the shade stays the same. It also turns into a quagmire in the rain, so be warned.
I ended up doing a big sweeping loop, meeting back up with Cerro Gordo at a different trailhead. It was a mostly downhill ride into town, giving me a few moments to cool down before turning onto Delgado and dropping back into the river to finish the ride on the same track as I started. Locals and tourists alike were enjoying the river, and they all smiled as I flew past, my own smile glued to my face.
I finished the afternoon at NMAHA getting a deep-tissue massage. $25 dollars for an hour of muscular ecstasy can't be beat.

Oh, and I dare not forget to mention... five months without a cigarette today!

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