After three full days in the high desert of New Mexico, i have some strong recommendations. Firstly, HYDRATE. Back home in the Philadelphia suburbs, I thought I drink a reasonable amount of water- 1.5-2 liters a day. I've discovered that's not enough. Keeping in mind I haven't just been wandering around town (yesterday was day one at Petroglyph National Monument), yesterday I put down over three liters, and this morning I'm still a little dehydrated. The air is so dry, a Philly boy like me tends to not notice that it's (1) a lot warmer than I think it is, and (2) that sweat is actually evaporating like it's supposed to, as opposed to clinging like it tends to in the humidity of the east coast. Also, I'm not sure if it's the altitude or what, but my legs are really taking a pounding. I thought That I'm in pretty good shape for what I'm doing, since my day job has me walking six miles a day, but my quads are jello.
If you're exerting yourself like I am, the obscene food portions you find in many restaurants is not necessarily a bad thing, as long as you watch what you're eating. I've been finding that the New Mexican places are not actually that bad for you... lots of beans, lean protein, veg, and of course, CHILE! They're not kidding when they say that the official state question is' "Red or Green." Chile sauce goes on everything. So far, I haven't come across anything too overwhelming, even for people who don't do chiles like I do. I'll get more into food later.
|Breakfast burrito from the restaurant at the hotel (Sheraton Uptown Albuquerque).|
Clothing: light weight, wicking, and if you go to a place that has clothes labelled with sun protection numbers, pay attention. I haven't seen any clouds worth mentioning, and with the thinner air up here, the sun can be brutal. Also, if you're planning in checking out the natural or ancient man-made wonders around here, solid footwear is a must! Running shoes/open-toed sandals will not cut it.
|Really happy I brought the Zamberlans with me.|
Watch out for snakes (rattlers), scorpions, et cetera. This is no joke. I saw my first wild rattler yesterday. Just keep an eye out for shadowed pockets under or between rocks, as this is where snakes love to hide out during the day. I was also staying clear of odd holes in the sand (usually an inch to inch and a half in diameter from what I saw) because I really didn't want to know what dug them, and I have to assume that anything that lives in this kind of environment is pretty angry by nature. Just the flies swarming around me by the end of yesterday's hike were acting like they hadn't seen water in years.
|Ok, this one is admittedly out of focus, but I did not want to be there long.|
Finally, make sure you know where you're going, or at least have GPS with updated maps. I tried to go to the Volcanoes Day use area of Petroglyph National Monument yesterday, and drove right past it, as it wasn't clearly marked [edit- and National Park Service maps leave a lot to be desired]. This left me driving further through the desert than I intended, and left me on the edges of a pert of town I had not yet been to. If not for GPS, it would have taken me A LOT longer to get back to home base. At this point, it's time for me to check out, time to go hiking.