NOTE: The cache is near the wreckage of an old plane crash that occured in 1955. Use your judgement if seeing shattered aircraft parts would be upsetting to you. I only ask that you treat any wreckage you encounter with respect and please do NOT PUT ANY WRECKAGE IN THE CACHE. Any other Safety / Aviation / Patriotic themed objects encouraged.
CAUTIONS: This cache is probably too difficult for pre-teen children. It involves a 3+ mile hike each way with a 2500 ft elevation gain. The trail starts out well marked and reasonably flat, then progressively gets steeper and gradually fades to nothing. Lots of cactus and poison ivy along the trail. Bears and cougars inhabit these mountains. TAKE WATER if you take nothing else. Thunderstorms can be dangerous here. If weather moves in I recommend getting off the mountain ASAP. There are two places where you have to do a little rock scrabbling on all fours. START EARLY: Although this cache has been done in under 3 hours by a mountain runner, most mortals will take 5. Starting this hike late is a good way to A: Be stranded on the mountain overnight, B: Get stuck with your vehicle locked inside the parking lot, and C: Miss out on some of what I want you to see. The latter part of the hike near the cache has steep canyon walls that will make getting a decent GPS signal difficult. This, along with the poor satellite geometry forced on you by the canyon walls is why I rated the difficulty as 4. If GPS signal quality were not a factor, I would rate the difficulty 2.
DIRECTIONS: Start by getting onto Tramway road. Tramway arcs around the northeast quadrant of Albuquerque and terminates into both I-25 and I-40. Turn East off of Tramway to the Elena Gallegos Picnic area (Between Academy and Paseo Del Norte streets, there are brown signs for the picnic area). The picnic area charges a $2 parking fee during weekends that drops to $1 during the week. The park locks its gates for the night at different times through the year, roughly at nightfall. Pay attention to the closing time displayed on the sign at the attendant's shack. Park at N 35° 09.803 W 106° 28.211. Start on trail 140 (Pino Trail) Take this trail Northeast to trail 342. Go left onto trail 342. About 12 minutes later you will end up on trail 230. After about 2 minutes on trail 230 you will enter the Sandia Wilderness area through a pass-through in the fence. Follow signs to stay on the Domingo Baca trail. Approximately one hour from departure at N 35° 10.893 W 106° 27.597 you will see a trickling waterfall on the right, in the dead of summer it might be dry. Climb up the waterfall and just to your left you will see some flat rocks. The trail continues on from the top of the rocks.
If you miss this turn you WILL end up in the wrong canyon and without backtracking terrain becomes an honest 5 stars.
A few minutes down the trail you will re-join a watercourse. You will always be close to this watercourse and the canyon bottom from now on until the end of the hike. If you are ever in doubt about which trail to take from this point on:
1) Stay in or near the canyon bottom.
2) Stay left given a choice of equally used trails. Especially near: N 35° 11.540 W 106° 26.560
The main trail will meander back and forth across both banks of the small stream.
Once directly under the tramway wires, you will encounter wreckage. You will pass one engine near the beginning of the wreckage, and another engine a few hundered yards further up into the canyon. Getting a GPS lock from beyond the second engine takes some effort due to the steep narrow nature of the canyon. At engine #2 you have less than 500 feet further up the canyon to go to the cache.
The cache container is an ammo can and contains aviation / safety themed objects for the most part (and the interesting articles in the magazine).
If you decode the hints below consider the difficulty reduced to 2. The hints alone are enough to find the cache without a GPS receiver once you find the wreckage of TWA flight 260.