Easter weekend, we decided to hike to the Eye of the Sandias. After living here for 26 years, it was about time to see a local legend. We had rough directions and a GPS waypoint for our destination. A couple of miles each way, it would be a piece of cake.
The Eye of the Sandias is located at the southwest end of the Sandia Mountains approximately two miles east of and 1500 feet above Albuquerque, New Mexico. It is a local mystery. Originally painted in the 1960s, it was defaced in 2008, and repainted some time later; in all three cases by unknown persons. Local legend has it that the “crying eye,” as it is sometimes called, is weeping over the encroachment of the city on this beautiful open space.
We arrived at the trail head early, so we could hike in the cool morning air. The temperature was in the low 50s and the winds were generally light. The skies were hazy and, as the day progressed, would become a featureless, grey blanket. We headed out at quick pace on a well-worn trail. Before long, the trail began to branch and each branch became fainter than the one before. After an hour of hiking, we ran out of trail.
Now, we weren’t lost; we knew where we were. We were west of the city and north of I-40. In fact, we had a GPS, so we knew exactly where we were and where we wanted to go. We were still a mile (as the crow flies) away from and 800 feet below our destination. Unfortunately, we hadn’t packed our wings; it was going to be a piece of cake, remember? There were a few game trails, but nothing meant for people.
So, we bushwhacked through cactus, over boulders, up and up some more. We were huffing and puffing and dripping with sweat, but we were determined to reach the Eye. Finally, we topped a ridge and what should appear to our aching eyes? A trail! And it was going in the right direction, too. Re-energized we set off and made quick progress to our destination. As we crested the final hill, the Eye appeared before us. It had only taken us two-and-a-half hours!
We took a break and admired the views to the west and south. It was hard to believe we were so close to the city and yet, looking to the north or east, we might as well have been in the wilderness.
A short time later, it was time to return to the city below. Thankfully, our descent was much faster than our ascent. An hour later, we were back in the car and headed to a well-earned lunch. The Eye was much harder to reach than we expected, but the views of the city were spectacular. All in all, it was a very satisfying outing and one we plan to repeat when the skies are more photogenic.
We have posted a gallery of photos from the hike: The Eye of the Sandias. Enjoy!