Sandia Hikes and Flying at the Craters 
Monday, October 10, 2016, 06:27 PM - Weekend Fun, Week activities
Posted by Administrator
Taking advantage of the nice Sept weather (i.e., dodging the recent monsoons), Jess and I hiked La Luz from the tram after work one Thursday night. We got out of the parking lot a little after 5pm, so I knew that we were going to struggle to make the last 9pm tram. There was a great sunset and then it got dark around the rock slide. I pulled out the headlamps and we pushed on but we skipped the upper shortcuts because they were so steep and Jess's calves were tired. We finished off the 9-mile, 3900 ft climb at 8:50 and grabbed the last tram back down the hill - that was a close one!






Not much later, JJ and I hiked up to the TWA crash. The Domingo Baca Trail was well marked up to the crash site, but then we kept going to the crest and it got mighty steep and then the trail vanished for the last 500 ft. Why? I have no idea, but it's probably to keep La Luz hikers from inadvertently dropping down the TWA canyon. It was really cool to finally get up to the crash site because this incident was the start of the Albuquerque Mountain Rescue Team where I volunteer.






It's also green chile season! :)


Paragliding at the Craters in AZ
Aug 26th I flew out and back to Berkeley for a work trip. I landed back in ABQ at 7:30pm and drove 4.5 hours to outside of Leupp, AZ to a paragliding site called Sheba Crater. I was dogsitting Jason's pup, Chama, so he got to accompany me on the trip. It was a warmish night and I slept in the Outback with the rear hatch open so I had more foot space. The coyotes howled through the night so it was nice to have Chama there to keep an eye out. He didn’t seem to be bothered by them.



At 6am, a storm rolled in and provided a great rainbow in the early morning. When the rain finally started, I let Chama into the car with me and I took a couple minutes to warm him up and help dry him out when I noticed he was trembling. He slept by my side until I got up around 7:30am. Five of us paraglider pilots met up that Saturday morning at Sheba. Spencer brought his smaller Border Collie/Terrier mix, Ellie, and Chama played for a while. The rain started again so we went to Flagstaff to get coffee and wait out the storm. At 11:00, we drove an hour south to another paragliding site called Apache Maid. No one flew because the launch was difficult and mid-day thermals are typically unfriendly.





We drove back to the more beginner-friendly Sheba launch site. Since the wind was from the North, we decided to move again. Chasing the wind is common for paraglider pilots. We went around to an easy launch site on the North side of Mirriam Crater, a larger volcano next to Sheba. From there, we kited and took a couple sled runs off the bench to the field below. The flights were less than 5 minutes each but it was still good to finally get into the air. At the end of the evening, toward sunset, the winds shifted East so I never got a final flight. Instead, we had a couple beers and then drove to Flagstaff to get dinner.






Afterwards, I noticed Chama had not eaten anything. He had been going through waves of serious illness (possibly heart cancer) over the last 6 months and not eating was common. I drove the ~30 min to camp near Sheba at 10:45 (35.268832, -111.405448) and Chama barely moved when I opened the door for him. I thought that was strange. His head was on my sleeping bag. I said, “someone had a big day” and I helped him out of the car. He walked around a little and I set his food out for him. As I was getting my toothbrush and tent out of the car, I also noticed Chama defecated in the car. I was worried at this point. I knew Chama was beginning to re-enter one of his low points. (A few month before he developed terrible ascites, didn't eat or move for 5 days, and came within a hair of death.) However, he was mobile now and seemed strong all day, so I figured he was ok. I was completely exhausted so I quickly setup my tent and collapsed into bed. When I got out of the tent at 7am Sunday morning, I walked over to check on Chama. The food was untouched and he was lying under the car. I said, ‘Good morning, Chama!’ but there was no response. I gave him a nudge. There was no movement. I instantly felt my heart sink and I pulled him out from under the car. He was warm and flexible but I could see there wasn’t any breathing and his tongue was unnaturally hanging out of the side of his mouth. I held him a little bit and looked into his open eyes. “I’m so sorry Chama.” He must have expired 30-60 minutes prior. I packed up camp quickly, let the guys know that I would be leaving (they were still in bed), and drove back to Albuquerque to arrange the cremation per Jason's request. Telling your friend that their dog has died is absolutely awful. If Chama suffered, he didn’t give any indications. We knew he was fighting something chronic that would eventually claim his life, so I was happy to him a great day in the wilderness of Arizona before he went. I saw a smile on his face all day long.
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