this story begins earlier this summer as a friend and i started to think about a hiking/camping trip. it started with 2 nights, 3 days then the date changed then it was dropped down to one night, 2 days. i think it worked out for the best.
we chose to head to carson national forest in new mexico. this is also my first 12k hike. ok. it was more like 11,800 but i’ll take it. as well my first camping/hiking trip that wasn’t car camping.
being a somewhat noob, i packed as a cross between car camping and hiking camping. that just means i had about 30-50% way too much in my pack. pulling stuff out of a car and setting up is one thing. carrying that stuff uphill several miles is stupid. at least now i have a better idea what not to take.
but i’m getting ahead of myself.
the adventure starts the morning of. i had tried to be real good and get everything packed the night before. i did do it. however. in the morning as i pick up the pack, one of the straps holding my sleeping bag groans and flies off. i admit i still don’t know where the buckle is in the living room. so i have to grab another pack and move everything over. the mistake was in seeing the extra room and putting more things in it. yada yada i get to my friends and we drive. then we have to figure out how to find the parking area once we get there. the map kinda describes it but the road signage wasn’t the best. we eventually got there after turning around. elevation around 9400 ft.
from here we just grabbed our packs with the idea to hike until we stop and find a nice stop to camp. the forest is open so you can camp anywhere you want. there are places that are more camped (and flatter) than others. there are also two lakes in the area as well. we planned on going to the higher horseshoe lake.
that five miles on the sign is very deceptive.
off we go.
it sure looks nice and sunny doesn’t it…
i took a few pics on the way up. beautiful flowers. very moist and humid environment.
we stop at points for me to breathe and to talk to other people around (and which also allows me to breathe). about two miles in we find a bridge that people mentioned that had some decent area to camp at next to a stream. elevation around 10,600 i think. i’m beat so time to make camp. lucky for us that we did. as things are unpacking and water is being boiled for dinner, what do we spy above but nice dark dark clouds. oh shit. a mad hurried rush to finish the tents ensues. when the hail started, yes, hail, to pelt me like a bb gun we each dashed into our tents to eat and take shelter from the storm. and what a storm it was. this was some of the loudest thunder and brightest lightning i have seen in my life. the lightning was like a flash bulb going off in my tent. i could see everything inside.
no problem. we have tents and rainflies and warm sleeping bags. uh oh. is that water dripping into my one person tent. no tears. it’s just coming through the fly and then dripping through the mesh. good thing i have my nice +30 down sleeping bag… that doesn’t work as great when it’s wet. somewhere during a lull in the storm i hear yelling about possible hypothermia. we discuss this as well as possible flash flooding and bears. lots of great thoughts getting into the evening. shiver me timbers.. it was getting cold. i tried to read but was just exhausted and fell asleep at (for me) a crazy early hour around 9pm. I woke up around 2am but damned if i was going into that storm to pee. back to bed i go.
i eventually woke up around 5:30am. storms passed. there were at least three big rounds of thunder and lightning that i was awake or awoken for. at some point i just needed to get out. i tried to rummage for some dry wood but at that hour i wasn’t to clear headed and missed some big dry pieces under another tree. i had the full intention of getting roaring fire ready for my friend. come on. it’s awesome when it’s cold to have a fire out there to warm up to. plus. it’s fire. i make some headway. here’s the view with some smoke hanging out… beautiful.
i did manage to show my friend how to use a light my fire spark set to light up a petroleum jelly soaked cotton ball. nice and easy tinder to start a slow burn. i didn’t find that dry wood until more light was out and my friend was already awake. drat!
well. we survived the night. worked on a little breakfast and i packed a few items into my camelback for the trek up to the lake. i did get to practice breathing to try and keep from passing out. we’re still headed up in elevation. remember, this is going up near 12,000. since it’s nice and humid there are fungi everywhere.
we aren’t smart enough to know which are good and which are bad. at the end we did run across two guys that did know. one had a big shroom in his hand and he rattled off some fancy name for it. he said it was very tasty. i passed.
i also did get the chance to be with my friends dogs and by the end they would heel for me when i was leading. very empowering i must say to be a pack leader and not as much work once they get it in their heads.
we passed by some beautiful views on the way up.
i have a casio watch that does barometer, altimeter, compass, temp. that kind. the altimeter was great to help me keep going. my manta was “one step,” as in one step at a time. i needed something when i was having trouble catching my breath. we saw some big horned goats.
and more stunning vistas when we go to the lake.
we hung around for a while but knowing work was calling the next day and there were many hours left of hiking and breaking camp at some point we just had to learn the peace and serenity and start the journey back. we stopped for a nice dinner in taos before the long drive back. thankfully my friend was driving as my body was a wreck. after a weekend of wondering about hypothermia, bears, flooding and exhaustion, of course this leads to the question of “where next and when can we go.”
-Santa’s Fallen Angel