Ever since I first drove into Albuquerque, New Mexico in January 2017 and saw the Sandia Mountains, I knew I had to summit them at one point. Over 14 months later I finally had the opportunity to hike to the summit, my first summit since having ACL knee surgery 3 years ago. Hiking to the almost 3000 meter summit was a physical and mental test, not just for me, but also for Jessica who came with me and our dogs Kiki and Artie.
I chose South Sandia Peak over the much more popular and slightly higher North Sandia Peak just because of the popularity of the former. When I get to the top of a mountain, I want to be as far removed from the human made world as possible. So South Sandia was an easy choice in that regard.
3000 meters is a pretty tall mountain, with about 1,400 meters of elevation change on the hike, but spread over 6.1 miles. This meant that it took nearly 4 hours to reach the summit taking a short break each hour for the dogs to get water and for Jessica and I to hydrate and eat some high protein snack as well.
Upon approaching the summit weather conditions got dangerous. The wind was gusting to 40, 50, 60+ mph. The last bit of trail is right at the edge of the very mountain itself and it was not possible to stand up straight for more than a few seconds at a time, the wind was that strong. Through a strong will and years of mountaineering experience, I led us all to the very summit. Oh, it was the very first time Jessica and the dogs hiked to the top of a mountain as well! For me, I would have to think how many summits it has been, probably about the 12th on a couple different continents and several different countries.
It was a tremendously challenging physical experience, only surpassed by the mental challenge to stay focused and sharp. I got us to the top, and Jessica got us to the bottom as once my ACL repaired knee started hurting on the descent, Jessica led the way back to civilization. It is something one only needs to do once, and I am glad we did it, so that where ever we are in Albuquerque, I can look up and think, "I was at the summit of all that."