Gorillas in the Mist

There was a deck of clouds sitting low over the mountains when we left Jaime’s house for this morning’s bike ride, and my simple request was to find a way to ride up into them. Jaime lives at about 5,800 feet, in the foothils on the east edge of town, and as we picked our way north through the neighborhoods we could see the clouds, looking like they were a just a few hundred feet above us.

Our first ascent, up Sunset Canyon (we think it’s the highest city street in Albuquerque) got us close, but the cloud deck was still maybe a hundred feet above us. So we headed to La Luz.

Up at the north end of town, the road to the La Luz trailhead is a short but epic little climb, the road winding through beautiful granite rock desert, kicking up at times terrificly steeply. My odometer/altimeter gizmo puts the road at 2.3 miles, 960 feet elevation gain, or about an 8 percent average grade, but the first mile is relatively gentle, meaning the last half of the road really bites.

About halfway up, we got into the mist, and it was beautiful – snowing lightly, a dusting along the roadsides, but warm enough (34 F by my thermometer/altimeter/odometer gizmo) that the road was just wet, not iced.

I have never before climbed all the way to the La Luz trailhead parking lot without stopping at least once. But Jaime and Steve conspired today, staying with me and encouraging me rather than dropping me (as they easily could have done). At the top, we were three bike-borne gorillas in a beautfil snowy mist.