After this hike, I am fairly convinced I am just a bad navigator. Recently, I hiked Domingo Baca and happened to get lost twice (thank you GPS). I’ve been wanting to hike Domingo Baca for a while now, mostly because of the TWA plane wreck at the end. The trail is around 8 miles and your gain about 3,543 feet (and by did I feel the altitude right before we found the crash). The trail is out and back and starts in more of uncovered desert trail but becomes covered super soon. There were tiny streams along the path, and everything was so green and lush from the extra snow last winter. The weather was fairly nice and the parts with an actual trail were beautiful. I parked in Elena Gallegos Park met a few friends before starting out on a foothills trail.
Before we got too far, we found a cool rock fort and from there we totally diverged. When I was researching this trail, a lot of reviews said it was a pretty hard trail to follow. I downloaded an app that helped us navigate once we were totally lost and 100% helped us get back to the cars. We ended up taking 7 hours to hike this. To say the least, we were sooo lost. There are a lot of little forks where you have a 50% chance of straying really far away. Unfortunately, I am terrible at guessing the right way. We were scrambling for at least three hours but once we found the trail, we appreciated the vegetation coverage and clear path so much more.
Along the path, there were small waterfalls and butterflies ever where. There were two spots where we walked through and tiny blue butterflies surrounded us. We passed a few groups of people on the trail and one couple warned us about a large boulder we needed to climb up to find the path on the other side.
The scramble wore me out completely, but we were so excited to see the crash site, we kept going. Towards the end of the trail, it was pretty much completely uphill and climbing rocks and boulders. The elevation totally kicked my butt too. I will fully admit I took a ton of breaks leading up to the last 15 minutes of the hike. Every time I sat down; my body wasn’t too sore, but my heart was beating a mile a minute (which is also an indicator I need to do more cardio). But once we got there, it was so worth it!
The crash itself happened on February 19, 1955. The Trans World Airline flight was intended to go from Albuquerque to Santa Fe at 7:03 am. The flight crashed into the Sandias at 7:13 am instantly killing 13 passengers and 3 crew members on impact. It was said the most probable cause was changing the plane’s route for unknown reasons. It was really powerful to see the leftover plane parts and acknowledge those who died. It was wild to think that these people could’ve innocently boarded the plane for work or a 9:00 am meeting. The wreckage was scattered around the area and it was clear the parts for the most part hadn’t been moved since the crash. I would totally recommend hiking this because the trail is not only beautiful, but the crash site was super cool to go visit.
We started back and once we got to the foothills, got lost again. We took a very roundabout way back to the parking lot, but we eventually got there. I would recommend getting a head start in the morning for this and downloading a map or really paying attention to the trail. I hope you all get a chance to get outdoors and soak up the sunshine!