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Saturday, May 19, 2012

Santa Fe to Pecos

I took the train from Albuquerque to Santa Fe and hiked out of town into the Pecos Wilderness.
I got to Santa Fe with my backpack and walked through the Plaza. I grabbed a bite to eat and walked out of town 7 miles up the highway to the first trailhead, then back into the woods. I hiked up past the ski hill then on to the Pecos Wilderness.
As I was hiking in, the clouds were starting to build and looked at the forecast and it said there was a chance of rain or snow for the next four days. Unfortunate, but mountain storms don't usually stick around all day.
The first three days I dodged the worst of the storms. Once, setting up my tent again to hang out while it rained for 4 hours. Everyday my plan was variable, depending on the weather.
Until the 4th day when I needed to make it over the ridge. I only had enough food for another day and my resupply box was two days away. I thought I'd be able to push for a big day and make it. The higher I went up the ridge the more snow I ran into. At 11,500 feet, I was still two miles from the crest and postholing through 3 to 4 feet of snow. I was cold, wet and hungry and this was the south facing slope. The other side was going to be five times as worse. With these factors I decided to bail and head back to a trailhead and make my way back to Pecos, NM.
It turned out to provide a lot of rewards. The storm eventually started clearing late that afternoon and as I crossed one meadow I saw something move across the way. It looked like a dog and at first I thought it was a coyote. I took a few pictures and after looking at them, I realized it was a grey wolf!!! Makes sense, I was at 10,500 feet in a wooded meadow, not exactly the coyote habitat.
Then I found a great campsite with a panoramic view of the entire range. It was one of the best sunrises I've watched thus far on the trip.
The hike out had great views of the Pecos river canyon. At the trailhead there was a television show shooting a scene and I saw my first bear! on a leash... It was a part of the shoot.
I started walking and hitched a ride after four or five miles. I was surprised at how little Pecos had to offer. The only grocery store in town was a Dollar General and there wasn't any kind of a motel. I hiked out two miles to where the forest service land began, hoping to camp next to a stream on the map, but when I got there it turned out to be dry. So the next day I hiked back to Pecos and hitched around to Las Vegas, NM that had a lot more resources and the best 35$ a night hotel I've ever stayed at.

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