A trip to Sandia Peak May 22, 2008Posted by dorigo in personal, travel.
Tags: albuquerque, new mexico, sandia peak
Not far east of Albuquerque stands Sandia Peak, a surprising mountain more than 10,000 feet high, which can be reached with a gondola (the longest air way in the world, it seems) from the plain north of Albuquerque. Atop the peak there is a large array of antennas for telecommunications, but the impact on the lineshape is not too damaging. To be honest, as seen from the city Sandia peak does not look too impressive: the lack of any references to size up the height of the mountain appears to make one underestimate it.
I decided to take an afternoon off the conference today, and I drove together with Riccardo Cerulli, an italian colleague who works in the DAMA experiment, to the top of the mountain. As we drove up the winding road, I was surprised to see a dramatic change of vegetation, from the desert bushes which cover the sandy ground around Albuquerque, to greener trees, and finally to pine trees. What surprised me the most though was finding in shady places large amounts of ground covered with snow!
Ok, the peak sits at 10,500 feet above sea level, but only 5000 feet below the temperature was a hot 94 farenheit. Atop Sandia peak the temperature was 63 degrees, and the weather was nice. Not a very good visibility at the horizon, but a strong south-west wind that is quite common in the area, as testified by the many trees that show the phenomenon of “flagging”, i.e. bending in one direction to indicate their continuous withstanding of winds. The wind on the crest had gusts at 50 miles per hour, and it made a huge hissing sound which added fascination to the place. As we walked along the crest, the wind was hitting us hard, luckily pushing us in the safe direction!
I took a few pictures during a short hike we did towards the station of the gondola, which stands 1.5 miles south at a slightly lower elevation. I found the place really beautiful, especially due to the stark contrast of the alpine setting with the flat plains just a few miles below.
The array of antennas crowding the very peak. The red car is the nice liberty I got from Thrifty…
Behind me, the plain with the suburban area of Albuquerque.
Another view towards south-west from the crest.
A view from inside a small refuge made of stones.
The cliffs on the west face of Sandia peak.
A nice view looking east from the trail.