Added 26 January 2013
24 September 2011, Pecos Baldy Wilderness
This is the story of childhood ambitions realized. Ever since my friend Steve was a kid living in northern New Mexico, he had wanted to climb to the top of the Truchas Peaks in the Sangre de Cristo Mountains, the second highest point in New Mexico. Amazingly, considering how much he explores, it took him around 30 years to realize this particular goal, and I was lucky enough to be with him on the journey.
Steve and I left his house at around eight o'clock this morning to drive to Jack's Creek Campground and the start of our backpacking trip. It was a pretty drive and we started hiking at around 9:45. The Sangre de Christo range is gorgeous, and the trails were generally in great condition, though the heavy equestrian usage had taken it's toll in some areas. Our route to Pecos Baldy Lake was a surprisingly steady eight mile climb of 2650 feet (net elevation gain). Autumn was falling upon the land like a giant trying to catch himself, with a scrape of color here, and the large yellow imprint of a hand placed on a hillside over there.
We didn't see much in the way of wildlife, though we did get a glimpse of a coyote that a horseman who had just passed us pointed out to us. When we saw him later in the day he said that he saw a very large black bear. I wondered why he saw so much more than we did, then realized that not only is he higher off the ground than we were, but he also didn't have to pay attention to where he was walking so could presumably spend more time looking around. I had never really thought of those advantages to horseback riding before.
We got to Pecos Baldy Lake at around 1:15 and set up camp. With all of the cars and horse trailers at the parking lot when we left, we were surprised to discover that we appeared to be the only ones camping at the lake. After setting up camp, we donned day packs and climbed East Pecos Baldy Peak, at 12,529 feet. After backpacking in we were pretty tired but made pretty good time to the top, despite the steepness of the trail. We spent a fair amount of time up on the top just relaxing and enjoying the view.
We originally planned on hiking over to the slightly lower Pecos Baldy Peak as well, but it was going to take more energy than either one of us had at that moment and we just returned to camp, arriving there at around 3:30. We then walked around to the west side of the lake and filtered water out of the stream that feeds the lake. It was a beautiful spot.
It was still early at that point, but I was really hungry so went ahead and made dinner. Steve gathered firewood and we had what passed as a campfire for the remainder of the evening. The wood we found didn't burn very well, so it was more like a campsmoke than a campfire. Still, it kept the chill off the evening and kept us dodging and weaving to escape the smoke.