Friday, June 12, 2020

Unplanned hike

I was driving on State Road 337, along the east side of the Manzano Mountains, southeast of Albuquerque, when I saw a sign: Otero Canyon Trailhead. The canyon looked nice, so I pulled into the parking lot. I changed into my hiking shoes, filled my water bottle, and consulted the trail map. Okay, let’s go.

I imagined I’d stroll up the canyon for a half mile or so, maybe find a nice place under a tree to sit and exist, then come back. Easy. Just stretching my legs.

Well, not very far up Otero Canyon a trail forked off. Tunnel Canyon. Ooo, a tunnel. That could be interesting. I took the fork and the trail started to ascend. Kind of steep, but not too bad. I kept on. Parts of the trail were rocky. It kept climbing. I was breathing harder yet nowhere near as hard as my former fatter self. I was passed by a trail runner. How do those people avoid spraining their ankles on the loose rocks?

The trail eventually leveled out and it was decision time. Do I keep going, or do I turn around before I get too far from the Rolling Steel Tent? I wanted to see the tunnel, dammit, so I kept going. The trail started a gradual descent.

It turned out there was no tunnel, at least not along the trail. Names don’t always mean what we think they do. But I felt a little proud of myself for having hiked the whole thing. Former Cancer Boy conquering the wild! Feeling fit and in control. Woot!

So there I was, at the Tunnel Canyon trailhead, about a mile and a half from where the van was parked. Oh yeah, that. And it was uphill. So I got my second wind, dialed up the determination, and headed back along the highway shoulder. My lower back wasn’t very happy, but I kept chugging. Nature took pity on me, clouded over the sun and sent a breeze. Thank you.

While other hikers and mountain bikers had only the comfort of their car seats awaiting them, I had the world’s most comfortable bed. Ahhhhhhhh… That’s the way to live.

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