Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Santa Fe National Forest: Santa Fe Baldy Ascent

I woke up early this morning and drove up to the ski area to begin my ascent of Santa Fe Baldy. The first segment of my hike followed the Winsor Trail again. I passed many familiar landmarks as I made my way into the wilderness. Once I had entered into the Pecos Wilderness I continued on the Winsor Trail as the early morning sun painted the aspens a golden hue.
Early Morning Trail
At the intersection with the Nambe Lake Trail I continued on the Winsor Trail and into some new territory.

Soon I got some great views of my objective: Santa Fe Baldy.
Santa Fe Baldy
I also saw a lot of wildflowers in bloom as I hiked off the Winsor Trail and onto the the Skyline Trail.
Wild Geranium
Dewy Flowers
Butterfly and Flowers
As the Skyline Trail approached the top of a ridge my time on an official trail would end for a bit. I would be following an unofficial, social trail up to the summit and most of this trail would be above tree-line.
Approaching Santa Fe Baldy
Trail up Baldy
 There were lots of great views to Ravens Ridge and yesterday's hike.
Ravens Ridge
Soon I crossed the first of two false summits and then I could see the final ridge leading to the summit.
Final Ridge
There were two climbers on the ridge. They looked like ants marching up the rocky ridge. Before I knew it I could see the summit proper and shortly thereafter I was standing on it.
Person on Summit
On Santa Fe Baldy
From the summit there were great views over to the Truchas Peaks and down into Lake Katherine.
Truchas Peaks
I relaxed up there for a while before starting my descent down.
The Descent
The descent was going really well. I was down into the trees in no time at all.
Trail and Baldy
I decided to hike back to the trailhead following a different route. I would head over to La Vega,
La Vega
follow the Rio Nambe for a bit, and then ascend the steep section of trail known as the "Elevator Shaft".  my plan worked well for a while. the hiking down the Rio Nambe was relatively easy. Then, however, I entered a recently burned area.
Burned Area
It was difficult to follow the trail  and I soon came to a fence line in the burn where I found a charred trail sign. It was impossible to read the sign and the fence worried me. "Why would there be a fence within the wilderness?" I wondered. I decided that I must have passed the "Elevator Shaft" and missed it because it had burned. I decided to backtrack. This revised plan meant that I added considerable mileage to my hike and some difficult uphill miles at that. At least I wasn't lost though. In consolation, I saw this interesting looking fly as I stopped to rest.         

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