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The hike is a great one for early mornings in the Summer (very hot otherwise) and almost anytime in the Spring, Fall and Winter. The Strip Mine Trail itself is relatively easy, with gentle up’s and down’s. The hike onto the ridge for the cache is more demanding. It’s not suited for very young children for sure. And older children with little bushwhacking experience will need to be advised to watch their footing.
The views from the cache site of the Albuquerque area and suburbs, the Rio Grande (who’s rift is responsible for the Sandias), the surrounding mountains, and Cabezon are “huge.” Unless you’re there in the middle of the day, the colors are a virtual artist’s palette.
Geocachers can either find their own way. Or use the information immediately below. I’d advise the latter, since the hike is a good workout without walking many extra up’s and down’s entailed by “free lancing.”
The optimal route is to begin at N35 18.018 W106 28.837, the Strip Mine Parking area. Proceed to N35 17.725 W106 27.418, where the Strip Mine Trail intersects Trail #246. Then begin bushwhacking up the ridge to N35 17.668 W106 27.445 (or thereabouts, since the waypoint simply indicates the first “knob” on the ascent). And then continue from there to Oscar’s Stash #1. Bouldering is not necessary. If you find yourself scrambling too much, you’re off course.
This cache is placed in memory of my miniature dachshund (a rescue dog, no less) named “Oscar.” Twelve pounds of boundless energy, he was an inveterate hiker, who liked nothing better than “going up,”and romping along the spine of the Strip Mine Trail. The Strip Mine Trail was his favorite hike. We must have done it a 100 times or more together between 1994 and 1998. He also loved the longer hikes to Nambe Lake and Santa Fe Baldy (where additional Oscar’s Stashes will be placed when time allows).
I miss him still. Not to be too sentimental, but I’ve placed a copy of Robinson Jeffers’ poem, “The House Dog’s Grave” in the cache. If you read it, think of Oscar for me. Is it true that dogs like geocaching as much as we do? Paco does. And Oscar would have, too. LOL
The cache is constructed of camouflaged 4" thin wall PVC with one glued end and one twist off. A hint is encrypted below. I’ve put a “good hide” on this one. My GPS “averaging” function indicated accuracy to 7 feet.
Bonus attraction: keep your eye peeled for shards if you hike the trail any time soon after a heavy rain. The ancient ones clearly used the area. The washes are the best places to look.
Driving directions (from Albuquerque)
I-25 to exit #242. Go apprx. 3.05 miles East on NM 165 to a dirt road turn off (only to the right). You’ll see a small green “3 mile” sign about a hundred yards before the turnoff. There’s a larger parking lot right off NM 165, but no need to park there. After turning, drive a very short distance to the Strip Mine Parking area at N35 18.018 W106 28.837.
A full description of the Strip Mine Trail itself can be found in Mike Coltrin’s excellent "Sandia Mountain Hiking Guide." The cache itself lies just inside the Sandia Mtn. Wilderness. In my opinion, the bushwhacking portion is too "slippery" for horses.
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Coordinates are in the WGS84 datum