How beautiful are the Sandia Mountains above Albuquerque? A jaunt up the La Luz trail will be convincing. On New Year’s day 2016, a layer of clouds capped the peaks and hung down to within 6 to 7 hundred feet of the trailhead. Weather was cold, a few swirling breezes, low 20s, so I bundled up appropriately. I parked 4 tenths of a mile below the trailhead in a free spot as there is a $3 state park fee. The trail is steep and switchbacks are the norm for the La Luz trail which covers 4000 vertical in 7.7 miles to the top of the Sandia Crest. The top was not my goal for this day but sometime this year it will be. Feeling good, I turn on my Garmin GPS to map the trail and maintain a slow steady pace. Nine cars were in the parking lot which is always a good sign that locals use the trail regularly so it would be packed down at least for a distance as I had hoped. Saw several people who were coming off the trail, from one serious hiker in major gear, from telescopic walking sticks, alpine boots, ski goggles and a south pole parka. Others were hikers with not much clothing, street shoes, no gloves, no hats and probably did not go far. A short jaunt to get the New Year started.
FEATURED BREWERY – Chama River Brewing Company – chamariverbrewery.com This place gets three thumbs up for the beer. There were three stouts on draft, an imperial, rich and full of flavor, a milk stout, softer and delicate than the imperial and so drinkable and their oatmeal stout, aka, the Sleeping Dog Stout, is in between the other two but if blended with vanilla ice cream, with the chocolate and coffee overtones would make for one wonderful milkshake. Great beer. Their golden ale is refreshing, as I had come off the mountain run – I like to try something lighter. It worked. Next came the Copper John Pale Ale. For a low IBU, the beer is an excellent balance and as their menu describes it, crisp. On to the hoppiest, the Jackalope IPA. IBUs of 80 satisfied my need for the lovely bitterness I needed and yet there is no lingering of too much hops. Hops are reported to have anti inflammatory properties, which, after long runs, are used for medicinal and pleasure purposes.