Pecos Wilderness

On to the Southern end of the Sangre De Christo range: above Santa Fe loom the Pecos mountains. Best wildlife encounter of the trip so far. We saw herds of elk cows with calves, bighorn ewes and rams, marmots, pika, eagles and of course ravens. 35 miles and 5000 feet ascent, a high camp below a melting snow patch which provided water just under the ridge at 12500 feet. The alpine flora is about to swing into full spring mode. Simply lovely!
Found marine fossils on the ridge and met a family with pack-lamas…

Sangre de Cristo mountains backpack

The main Rockies mountains have a LOT of snow this June so we visited another range in the south east of Colorado with a little less snow for a 4 day backpack. It turned out to be a beautiful trip in a wild area where we crossed 5 high passes up to 4000m with some snow and ferocious winds to add some excitement!

Saw bear tracks, bald eagles, herds of elk with their young, marmots, plenty of beaver signs (see pic of gnawed aspen) and no people once away from the trailhead.

Northern New Mexico photos

Following on from the previous update here are a random set of photos of Northern New Mexico……

Approaching the Chama River and Ghost Ranch in pink rock sedimentary mesa with sagebrush below.

A close up of what we think is the delightfully termed skunk cabbage. Anyway they are nice plants and grow in wet meadows so are a good water indicator for us!

Martina camped in a stand of aspen at 9,500 feet in the morning sun.

We are in rolling hill country here in northern New Mexico at about 10,300ft and beginning to see more snow.

We meet up again with Ted and Richard after we all took different routes through the forest. An opportunity to dry everything out again before the rains start in the afternoon. Our walking is typically on old disused jeep roads as seen here.

Colorado border at last- now to camp before the thunderstorms hail on us again!

Good Bye New Mexico, Hello Colorado !

Ghost Ranch and its beautiful sandstone cliffs was our last look at the desert. Since then, we have been in cool green aspen, pine and spruce forest and rolling alpine meadows. Depending on altitude, spring is only just beginning to think about springing ! Some meadows are already busy with blue iris, yellow lilies, purple lupins, red columbines and indigo delphiniums – as well as the less exotic (to the European eye) dandelion. A few hundred feet higher, the snow has only just gone and the flowers are not out yet. The omnipresent lizards have been replaced by stripy chipmunks. Still lots of humming birds around though and lots of ravens (caw caw!)

It has been easy walking (with tricky navigations since there are many old and new trails up here). We are told that the weather we are having is unusal for this time of year: it has been thundering (sometimes for hours) and raining out of static clouds (no winds!) every day for a couple of weeks now. Above 10 000 feet (3300 m), the nights have been very cold indeed with lots of condensation and frost on the tent (inner!).

Two days ago in the afternoon, we crossed the state border into Colorado (with fellow hikers Ted and Richard, who joined up with us again in Ghost Rhanch). We made a celebratory fire at our campsite that night and Ted burnt his last New Mexico maps. We’ve come 650 miles (1080 km) since the border!

Chama, where we are now, is in New Mexico again – we had to hitch-hike from a pass on the road in Colorado back into New Mexico! Chama’s main attraction is a narrow gauge steam train and we are in a charming 1930’s hotel next to the “station” and can hear the train hooting! Lots of knick-knack shops, nice cafees and very friendly people!

The next section is appartently quite snowy. A few other hikers have already opted to walk on the road to the next resupply town rather than flogg trough the snows. Mary-Joy, our supporting trail-witch in Montrose,CO (I’m sure she’d rather be called that, than being called a “trail-angel”) has sent us ice axes and bigger boots as well as some extra clothes. So we are now in a position to go and have a look at how much snow there is. It’s only 65 miles to the next resupply town – there will be hot springs there! Great incentive to plod on!

Brian is away to try and find somewhere in Chama where he can download photos from the last section.

M

Photos from our New Mexico CDT hike are here

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Four sets of hiking shoes (and sandals) head north!
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Above Ghost Ranch

 

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Trying to get a GPS signal!

At Ghost Ranch New Mexico

A shortish 55 mile section from Cuba to Ghost Ranch New Mexico www.ghostranch.org

We had an extreme change from semi-desert in Cuba to a 3000ft climb into fir and spruce green mountains of the San Pedro Mountains. Our tent had its first coating of frost and ice camped up there at 10,300ft on a lovely meadow next to running water. Our next night was also next to a river in the Ojitos canyon before we followed the Chama river to Ghost Ranch.

The scenery here is dominated by pink, red and yellow sedimentary cliffs and its pretty cool. The artist Georgia O’Keeffe painted here for 50 years. No photos as the computer won’t let me download but next stop for us is the Colorado border, 84 miles away at Cumbres Pass. We then aim to hitch (or get the scenic train line) back to Chama NM to resuply with winter gear (boots and ice axes) ready for the snowy and high San Juan mountains of Colorado.

Hope the Scottish readers are enjoying the hot spring weather !

Brian Saturday 30th May

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Hiking out of Cuba NM
big panorama san pedro meadow
San Pedro’s, high parklands
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Cold frosty camp in the San Pedro’s

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Ghost Ranch NM

From Cuba NM……

We are now in Cuba New Mexico after 515 miles of walking from the Mexican border. We had a 500 mile sing song to a certain Proclaimer’s song whilst walking along a cliff top mesa yesterday. This last 100 miles has had some of the most varied terrain and weather of our trip so far. From wild wet wind and cloud over the Mt Taylor mountains to dry arroyo and mesa country later on. We have enjoyed the scenery particularly of the desert mesas with lots of cactus bloom, twisted juniper trees, slick rock sandstone and endless vistas. We saw a group of 3 jeeps pass us in the last 6 days, the rest of the time we were on our own. We have been accompanied by the yelping of coyotes each night and morning but have not managed to capture them on camera yet. The lizards and skulls have been more photogenic so far and we hope the photos below give a flavour

brian 27-05-09 Cuba NM (no relation to Fidal Castro’s Cuba !)……