Flower Mountain P500

Oct 14, 2023
Story Photos / Slideshow Map GPX


Eric and my two-week trip was drawing to a close. It was no coincidence that we ended up at his home in Albuquerque on Oct 14. That was the date of the annular eclipse that was to cross over much of South and North America. After my first total eclipse in 1991, I've made a commitment to see those crossing the US ever since. I traveled with the family to Oregon to see another total eclipse six years ago, and this would mark my third eclipse, the first annular one. These occur when the moon is further from the earth and doesn't quite cover the sun, leaving what is called the "Ring of Fire" at the apex of the eclipse. We had originally planned to hike somewhere around Albuquerque to view the eclipse, but when we looked at the eclipse map, Eric's house was less than half a mile from the centerline of maximum coverage - pretty outstanding. The date also happened to coincide with Albuquerque's biggest event all year, the 10-day balloon festival in which up to 500 balloonists participate in daily balloon excursions. We caught the flight of more than 80 balloons earlier in the morning, then settled in to watch the eclipse starting around 9:15a. The first hour is a slow affair as the moon slowly works its way across the sun's surface. Eclipse glasses are a must for viewing, and are helpful for efforts to try and photograph the event. I had no success with my phone's camera, but I managed some photos with my hand-held one that I use for peakbagging. The real excitement begins about an hour after the eclipse started, as the moon begins to maximal coverage of the sun. The sun turns to a crescent, then for 4.5min the moon is fully inside the suns disk, presenting the Ring of Fire. It is not as dramatic as a total eclipse - there is no noticeable darkening, no chill in the air, no stars that come out as seen during a total eclipse. Sadly, the camera had trouble focusing and doesn't do the event justice, but one gets the idea. As the moon touches the opposite side of the sun's disk, the Ring of Fire ends as does the anticipation and excitement. We were pretty much done with the viewing shortly after this, and I bid my friend farewell well before the moon had crossed out of the sun's path. I had a lot of driving to do to get back to San Jose, and I was eager to get started.

Flower Mountain

Flower Mtn is located about 50mi west of Albuquerque and just south of I-40, conveniently on my way home. It was a necessary component to include the eclipse in my peakbagging TRs. The peak lies on private property, but doesn't seem to be much problem to visit. The easiest route is from the south, about half a mile each way, gaining 400-500ft. There are some rural homes with unchained dogs on the drive from the Interstate, so it helps to drive west far enough to lose the dogs' interest. The hike is all class 2, up volcanic rock slopes with grass and thankfully, not a single cactus. It took just over 20min to find my way to the summit where several large cairns are found, and a pole that probably held an american flag at one time. Nice views of Mt. Taylor to the north and north-central New Mexico all around. I was back down in about the same time, after which I devoted the rest of the day to getting myself across several states. Good times...

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