My first experience with mountains occurred during a road trip in my family’s minivan as we made our way through the Smoky Mountain range heading south to Florida.
I distinctly remember my ears popping, a sensation that I would experience again just one year later when I flew on a commercial airplane for the first time.
The view from the highway was breathtaking, especially when I saw the wispy looking clouds that litter the panoramic mountain landscape. These clouds almost look like smoke billowing out of chimney stacks, and lend a lot to the name of this mountain range. We visited Gatlinburg a few years later and stayed in a resort in the mountains. It was on this trip that I realized I wanted mountains to be within driving distance wherever I live long term. Although it took a number of years to realize this dream, everything changed when I accepted a place in a graduate program at the University of New Mexico. I moved to Albuquerque and was suddenly living in a city with an elevation of over 5,000 feet. This isn’t something to take lightly when your body needs to get used to the elevation. I smoked cannabis right away when I first moved here and I remember that it made me feel higher than I ever had been before. The THC percentage wasn’t any higher 25% on any of the products I tried, and the strain with the highest terpenes was only at 2.2%. That’s quality cannabis, but nothing I’m not used to personally. Now I’m much more used to smoking cannabis in Albuquerque’s high elevation. Going up the Sandia Tramway will get you even higher, as Sandia Peak is almost 11,000 feet in the air.