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Begins: Sep 13, 2017
Date: Fri, Sep 15th, 2017
Start: Tramway TH
End: Sandia Crest
Daily Distance: 11
Trip Distance: 11.0
Entry Visits: 1,238
Journal Visits: 9,536
Guestbook Views: 74
Guestbook Entrys: 13
Grand Enchantment Trail Map
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We woke up on our air mattresses on Bieber's floor, sleepily packed our packs, and ate a little leftover pizza. I had never met Bieber before now. We are just kind of hiking friends on Instagram and he offered up his place when he saw we'd be hiking the GET.
Yesterday, he picked us up from the ABQ airport and drove us around ss so to do some errands. His real name is Austin and his trail name is Twiggy. We call him Bieber b/c of his Instagram name (AustinBieberOfficial).
So Bieber drove us up to the Tramway Trail Head at the foot of the Sandia Crest. We said our goodbye's to Bieber and thanked him for his hospitality, then went into the visitor center to use the bathroom and scope it out. Back at the trail head we took obligatory pictures with the signs, then shouldered our packs to get going. We promptly stopped 10 feet into our hike to eat amazingly juicy Prickly Pear Cactus that were fruiting all around us.
The Tramway Trail connected to the La Luz Trail and we wound up about 4,000 feet over the course of 9 miles. The Southwest Monsoon season is ending, which has recharged many of our water sources. The ground has a damp look to it and we can tell it torrented a few days ago. For us, the day was overcast and delightful all the way up to the summit of Sandia Crest.
We took our time and hiked slowly. We are being intentional about our pace to regulate injuries early on. We have thru-hiker muscle memory and want to pump out 30 miles, but our bodies are not ready for it yet.
As we climbed higher and higher toward the summit I could begin to notice the elevation effect me. At about 9,000 feet my vision began to blur and I had to stop often to catch my breath. Although challenging, the hike was very pleasant, and the flora was more diverse than I had expected. We started with Prickly Pears, Junipers, Yucca's, and Pinon Pines. Those gradually swapped out for Aspen and Gabel Oaks. Then came Firs and Spruce at the top of the mountain. I saw a small creature I thought was a skunk at first because of it's dark coat and white fluffy tail, but it was a Abert Squirrel. I also saw a Scrub Jay and lots of bumble bee's getting drunk off wildflowers.
Top Shelf was walking behind me and cracked one of her bubbly waters slightly to let out carbonation. I immediately tightened up, jumped, and began looking for a rattle snake. She laughed and assured me it was just her bottle. We both agree'd it sounded just like a rattle snake when they begin to rattle.
At the summit we joined the tourists who had either driven or taken the tram up. We ate hot dogs, drank coffee, and hopped on the wifi at the visitor center, overlooking Albuquerque. It was windy and cold outside so we lounged for a good hour before finishing up our trek to our planned campsite.
Top Shelf and I seem to have a good pace and trail groove so far. We've never hiked together before, so we're kind of figuring each other's trail norm's out as we go. I'm happy to have the good company, conversations, and laughter. We also drift apart between sections of trail so there's space for alone time and podcasts. Tonight, as we were settling into our tents, a lightening storm passed over us. The closest between flash and boom was 4 seconds (20 miles away). Had I been alone up here at 10,000 feet on this ridge I'd be super spooked, but knowing Top Shelf was chilling in her tent a few feet away eating cheese and looking at tomorrow's maps made everything seem much less fearsome.
Tomorrow we're going about 13 miles before we hit the town of Tijeras where I'll grab my first resupply box and then we'll continue on. From here, the trail will become much less maintained, then not maintained, then non-existent. There's a hiker named Handlebar about a week ahead of us who has been leaving excellent information on the GET FB page concerning water sources and trail conditions. We're pretty stoked for the info since no one else has hiked the GET this fall.
So I'm going to go to the bathroom one last time then crawl into my sleeping bag. The wind is whipping through the tree's but we have a relatively calm camp spot. We're both pretty beat from our travels and should sleep well tonight. That's it for now.