Hiking used to be important. Very important. Hiking was one of The Important Things when I met Kirk. It was a passion with him - he spent most weekends up one mountain or another. He and his friends had a New Girlfriend Test that involved taking the poor hapless girl up the side of the mountain to see if she a) knew how to dress for a hike b) whinged and c) looked halfway decent after being dragged 15 miles up a rock face. I nearly didn't pass thanks to the fact that I Do Not Do Heat but was given extra points for not complaining and still completing the hike.
Kirk knew the hiking trails around this city intimately. He had his favorites for different times of the years or different activities. There were places that were excellent for day hiking, trails good if you only had an hour or so in the afternoon and hidden bits, off the track that let you pack in a tent, large amounts of food and a frisbee - all the necessities to stay a night or two.
When the Children and I moved back here we weren't living very close to the mountains. It made it easier to make excuses for not making the effort, for not doing this or really any of the other things that had been so very important.
Then we moved a little closer, the Sandias sitting not in our backyard but far more reachable somehow than they had been when we were eight miles further away. They are part of the great Rocky Mountain chain that ripples right through the Southwest - great blue masses (at least at a little distance) craggy and pointed and young. There they were, turning brilliant pink in the sunset to earn their name (Sandia is Spanish for watermelon), collecting the clouds on the few rainy days and reluctantly sharing the moisture. But it was the summer and, you know, I Do Not Do Heat, so that was where they stayed.
It seems hiking is still very important - to Children who take survival classes for dangled prospect of an overnight camp, who come home full of busy plans when various group leaders lose their minds just enough to decide they are willing to take a van-full of teenagers up one set of hills or another, to an overly busy Child who needed to find a bit of space to just breathe for a little while. And it isn't summer any more.
So this weekend two of the Children and I headed up to the base of the mountain and hiked into Embudo Canyon.
In case you think I exaggerate about the area I live in, this is near the base of the trail where the vegetation is rather lusher than other regions
And much of the plant life is warm and welcoming - practically demanding a cuddle:
Notice in particular the rosy glow on the two inch spikes of doom:
However just a mile or two you find yourself in the canyon where there is just enough shade and just enough trickling water to allow some cottonwoods to grow while the cliff walls reach up in fantastic rock formations (excellent for photography but I will not inflict my Granite Series I [ooh! With lichen!] upon you) which is perfect for sproinking:
Which I couldn't join in as I had saddled myself with a massive camera bag. I pack camera bags like some women pack overnight luggage. I might NEED that lens! However the children did an excellent mountain goat impression over both sides of the canyon:
Until one of them had enough leaving the other to sproink alone:
While it found a warm rock to sit on and contemplate its excellent boots.
It was a good day.
NOTE: In a spirit of political unity I would like it noted that both parties were equally represented in today's only slightly modified Children photographs.