A while back I spent a summer living away from New Mexico, and every morning, I remember waking up and going to the porch for my coffee with a slight shock, which was that the sunrise seemed to be missing one pertinent detail: A gigantic mountain range. One of the many benefits of living in Albuquerque is our wonderful constant companion to the northeast, the Sandias. It’s hard to imagine our skyline without it. Even more so, it’s hard to think of all the things we would be missing if it were to go away. From all the wonderful restaurants up in Tijeras and beyond, to ski season and yes, even the tram, it’s not an overstatement to say that the Sandia Mountains provide a lot to this city, in more ways than one. Yet, there’s something more they offer. Something many of us (all practicing shamans/
So picture this scenario: You get lost in the Sandias and can’t find your way down. You’ve lost your phone during a particularly ill-planned selfie session and your bag of trail mix was depleted during the car ride over, leaving you very unprepared as you hear coyotes howl in the distance. Trapped in the wilderness, what do you do? Do you have the skills necessary to survive the night? Anyone can go on Google and learn how to make a campfire, which I think isn’t even legal on the Sandias because of fire risks, so what do you do to make it to day two in what is sure to be a best-selling novel, 48 Hours On the Sandias: How I Survived Without Resorting to Cannibalism?
Thankfully, the Blue Wind School of Botanical Studies is hosting the event Edible & Medicinal Plants of the Sandia Mountains: Herb Walk this Saturday, Sept. 7 from 9am to 3pm. For a $50 fee, you and a group of other intrepid explorers will be taken on a trip up into the mountains to forage, explore and munch on local finds you never knew or expected. Said expedition is being led by Tellur Fenner, a clinical herbalist and educator who has traveled extensively throughout the US while studying, collecting and using plant medicines from all the major bioregions. So, what should you expect from the class?
The first thing is that you’re going to be on your feet. This is a straight-up hike, and if that’s not your style, you might look for a different alternative or send an outdoor enthusiast friend to take notes and report back to you. Second, know that it’s currently monsoon season (until the end of September, apparently) and to be prepared for anything, as is customary of New Mexico and its finer intricacies in regards to the weather. That means sunscreen, water, an umbrella (does anyone in New Mexico actually own one?) and maybe a poncho or a light jacket. You should also bring snacks or a full lunch (we have some recommendations if you need them) as this is a six-hour-long hike and will definitely be taxing on the system in some capacity.
The class itself plans to cover a wide array of edible and medicinal plants found in our humble mountain range, so you can look forward to munching on some of our local lovelies in the near future. If for no other reason, you can use this class to impress friends on future hikes, stopping for a moment to dig into some strange plant with confidence and finesse. You can be your own group’s druid, showing off your innate connection to nature.
Additionally, you’ll learn the history of the plant’s uses, and some of their modern medical applications. Tummy ache? Eat this mushroom. Headache? Lick this stem 12 times. General ache? Rub this berry on your knee. I don’t know the actual logistics, so certainly don’t quote me on it. The benefit here is that you’ll be taught the difference between the poisonous look-alike plants. Trust me, that’s the part you want to pay extra close attention to. There’s nothing worse than trying to treat a sprained ankle with poison ivy.
So do you feel up to task? Are you ready to learn about your home state and what benefits you can reap from its bountiful flora? You can find more information on the class at the Blue Wind School of Botanical Studies’ Facebook page, under their event section. It’s your time to survive the New Mexico wild, and Blue Wind School has your back.