Going Where No One May Go

Last weekend I was lucky enough to catch a hike in the Manzano’s, the Sandia’s sleepy sister to the south. I like the Manzanos because they are pretty remote. I’ve been out here twice now, and rarely seen other people… except of course the friends I was there to find. The lack of other hikers makes it a good place to let the puppy run free.

The drive south on 337 is long and winds through canyons and some of the least scenic towns in New Mexico (wtf Chilili?? but hey, at least its fun to say!) Some where past Tajique and before Torreon is a turn off for 4th of July Canyon. There’s camping here, and a variety of hikes, ranging from nature walk to serious and uphill. There’s not much water around either, so one must come prepared, and choose a trail conservatively.
The road out there, once you turn off the pavement is ROUGH. I love me some 4×4 action, and this rutted, dirt road stretches for miles of rocky and endless fun! There are some nasty parts I wouldn’t want to encounter without the clearance of a truck.
I’d done the nature walk at 4th of July in search of fall colors… there are maple trees in this area, although I don’t remember why, (but I have a nature nerd friend who is always willing to refresh my memory). This time we hiked trail 176. It was mostly straight up hill with a fair to middling amount of shade and not much deadfall or other lose scree. We hiked in the heat of the day and I will say that the 1.7 mile trail kind of kicked my ass, which of course means, I need to hike more!!! I took some pictures at the summit where the trail intersects John F. Kennedy trail and few of the other longer, and more challenging crest trails. These should be noted for later in the season when the temps are starting to drop.
The descent was quick … because the entire hike was uphill, and we were back to the car in no time after the summit. It was about an hour and forty five minutes up and thirty down, including chatting, resting and water. Total mileage was about 3.4 miles, but due to the up and down grade, I felt it in my hamstrings the next day.

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