By Mike Rahmer
With temperatures still consistently measuring in the 80s, it’s hard to think that we will soon have to turn the heater on or start cutting firewood. But before you know it, the winter play season will be upon us.
That’s right . . . play. That white stuff that causes such grief during the week – waking us up at 6am to shovel the driveway just so we can take an hour to get to work – is the same white stuff that prompts us to get outside on the weekends and have fun.
Living here in the East Mountains means we are only minutes away from a myriad of winter activities.
In fact, the Sandias offer plenty of opportunities for any level of skill or desire, from the soloist seeking a one-hour piece of Nirvana to an entire family whose kids have finally talked mom into getting on a snowboard.
Here are a few good rules of thumb before hitting the trails or slopes:
• Temperatures may have dropped but we still live in a dry climate. Plenty of water and a snack or two are key to enjoying yourself and ensuring you have the energy to finish what you start.
• Clothing-wise, remember your layers: A comfortable, mid-weight, breathable base-layer; a warmer second layer like a fleece vest; and a wind stopping, water resistant/waterproof third layer will allow you to start comfortably and finish comfortably. And don’t forget your extremities: hat, gloves/mittens, and warm socks.
• Many winter activities are aerobic intensive. If you have not done much in the mountains lately, start short and lengthen your duration as the season goes on.
• Don’t let lack of equipment dissuade you from having fun. Sportz Outdoors and REI in Albuquerque offer rentals for all these activities.
So, let’s get started!
Snowshoeing – Probably the easiest of the activities as far as accessibility, cost, and skill. All you need are a pair of snowshoes. From there it’s really just a matter of how far you feel like driving up the Crest. Basically if you can hike the trail in summer, you can snowshoe it in winter!
One trail that always has snowin winter is the Crest Trail from the parking lot north to the tram and back. Another fun loop is around the Capulin Snow Play area. It’s a great place to inner tube, too!
Cross-Country Skiing – What cross-country might lack in glamour it more than makes up for in pure aerobic (and sometimes anaerobic) bliss. Forty-five minutes on the trails is enough to leave even the hardiest bodies gasping for breath. The 10K Trail is the place to go (about 12 miles up the Crest road with parking on the left). Keep your eye out for the blue diamond signs – those will let you know you are still on the cross-country trail.
Skiing and Snowboarding – If you like your winter activities vertical and fast then these are the sports for you. Sandia Peak Ski area offers a very nice selection of beginner and advanced runs. Don’t worry if you have never tried the sport or it has been years since you strapped on your Rossy 205s. You can take half or full day lessons that will get you back up to snuff in no time.
And I’ll never tell if you call in sick on a snowy Wednesday morning to head to the mountain. Heck, just tell your boss there is too much snow for you to make it in. Most likely, he or she is city folk . . . and they won’t know any better.
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