Sandia Peak and Tramway

Hedda and I are in Albuquerque, New Mexico visiting our friends Dave and Jenny for the Labor Day Weekend. We’re joined by Chris & Katie, Kasey, and Libby.

Today, we took a trip up to Sandia Mountain, via the fabled Tramway. The mountain was enshrouded with clouds, unfortunately, so the view normally profferred by the 10,000-some foot elevation was available but rarely through the occaisional cloud break. Worse, it was quite cold, with the temperature hovering a bit above forty degrees Fahrenheit; and our presence inside of a cloud caused more than a few shrieks as a random drop of condensation dropped from the sky into a shirt collar with uncanny precision.

Still, the mountain is a beautiful place - an oasis of conifers and deciduous trees alike in the midst of the vast desert that encompasses so much of the southwestern United States. There were lichen, wildflowers, and fantastic rock formations cut from the 1.3 billion-year-old granite, thrust up from the desert over millenia by the clashing of ancient fault lines. There were tiny, ancient aquatic fossils everywhere; their incongruous presence explained only by the presence of laminated white signs telling of the prehistoric seas which once covered the now arid landscape below.

Without the clouds encircling the mountaintop, though, we would have been robbed of the awesome experience of the tram descending through them. When we suddenly broke through the lower boundary, we were treated to the heretofore unseen contradiction of beauty and grossness that is the sprawl of the city and its surrounding suburbs. The unending line of clouds paralleled the horizon as far as could be seen to south, and interrupted to the north only by the mountains through which we were descending in the tram. It was stunning.

You know what? Forget everything I just said. I can sum up our experience today in two setnences: Dave made us go to the top of this mountain where you couldn’t see anything. It was ghey.