I had heard there was an eye painted on a rock high up on a trail in the Sandia Mountains. So map in hand, I headed out last week to find it. I had heard it was a challenging hike. Boy…it was!
I started out at the end of Copper Street. Right when I turned on the dirt trail to start my hike, I saw a Curve-Billed Thrasher on a cinder block wall enjoying the morning sun and singing quietly to himself. He was adorable.
From there the hike started climbing….and climbing….and climbing. This trail was relentless. But the views grew increasingly more expansive and beautiful as I climbed.
I had to stop from time to time to catch my breath. Scarlett would be up ahead a ways as she could traverse the trail much easier than me. Whenever I stopped, she would look back waiting for me to start climbing again.
Along the way there were some really cool rock formations made out of the wind eroded granite. I love finding shapes in the rocks. Here are a few of the best ones on the hike.While taking time to photograph the rock formations, Scarlett was waiting for me ahead on the trail.
The trail continues to climb. By now I’ve hiked straight up for a mile. Every now and then I would get a break on the steepness.
And Scarlett is still ahead of me…waiting….
The views continued to expand. This is my favorite scenic photo of the hike.
Pushing on…now I’ve hiked 1.5 miles. Tough hike! The directions to the eye said don’t get discouraged at this point. I’m almost there. I took time to take a selfie.And Scarlett is still ahead of me….waiting…
I finally top a rise and look ahead to see the eye. I cheered! Literally! I climbed for 2 straight miles! Can you see it ahead on the rock?
It is said the eye was painted some time in the 1960s. You always wonder what prompted someone(s) to paint this on a rock here. But we have to think about what younger people were like back then. It was the time of free love, LSD, mushrooms, marijuana, peace. So it has been theorized that the eye was painted to say the mountains were crying due to the encroachment of the city onto the wild land of the mountain. The eye faded with time, but then in the 1990s someone painted it again. When I looked at the eye and tears, they looked freshly painted to me.
If you look closely at the pupil of the eye, you see the symbol of the Zia, the state symbol of New Mexico.
Of course, I had to take several photos of the eye, including a selfie of Scarlett and myself. It was very windy at the top of the mountain here.
Time to head back. Two miles of hiking straight downhill ahead of me. UGH!!! This is a picture of the trail back.
When I started hiking back down, I saw another painting on a rock. I’ve never read about the mouth of the Sandias. LOL! I wonder when this was painted.
According to my hiking directions, it suggested taking a different route down to get a circular route and have new scenery. It didn’t say anything about the extreme steepness of the trail. I was cussing the author of the trail guide the whole way down. One part of the trail was so steep, I skipped it and chose to walk down a grassy hillside instead for much better and safer footing.
I was glad I made this choice not only for safety, but because the grasses were full of butterflies! 🙂 So I took my time descending and photographed several nice ones.
But my priority was getting down. It was slow going down because I had to watch my footing every step. Tedious and stressful.
Once again….Scarlett was waiting for me.
The trail was relentlessly steep. I hate steep downhills.But finally I made it to the bottom. Yay! Four miles of straight up and straight down. Whew! I was almost to the car when I heard a Cactus Wren singing. I felt I had a little bit of energy left to photograph a bird….just a little. LOL!
I found that wren singing his heart out at the top of a cactus.
He jumped down as soon as he realized he had a human audience. But that made for a great photo.
Then a Black-Throated Sparrow started singing from the same cactus top…popular cactus. Of course, I can never resist photographing one of my favorite birds.
I also saw a Western Scrub Jay squawking from a nearby bush so I just had to get his photo too.
By this time I’ve been photographing birds for 15 minutes. When I looked down at Scarlett I saw she was fast asleep on the trail. I pooped that little girl out! Time to head home and relax!