Filed under: Family Camping, Nature & Wildlife, Outdoor Recreation & Hiking
One Crazy Weekend…or a Labor of Love?
A few weeks back Terry and I were talking about how we wanted to spend the upcoming Labor Day Holiday weekend. Fresh out of ideas, I turned to him for a suggestion. “Well, we could hike Wheeler Peak the long way.” He was talking about the 16 mile round trip hike that took us over nine hours with the kids on our summer trip in 2005. There is now a “short” trail to summit New Mexico’s highest peak that runs a mere 8.4 miles round trip. We have completed that hike several times this summer already. Wondering if he was losing his mind, we ended the conversation for the time being.
However, the more I thought about it, the more appealing the idea became. Sort of a do-over, if you will. We had gotten lost on the way down last time, leading to our extended hike. Reported to be an 8-9 hours hike, my goal even back then was to complete the hike in 8 hours. I wanted to wipe the nine hour trek from my personal record book.
In thinking about it, another idea came to me; a companion plan, as it were. We were planning to be out at the Taos Ski Valley on the Saturday of Labor Day Weekend anyway as they were hosting the Enchanted Circle Blues Festival, but that would not start until the afternoon. What if we did the “short” hike on Saturday, then hung out and enjoyed the Blues Festival, rested on Sunday, then returned on Monday and repeated the long hike? I have to say, Terry did a double take when I presented him with my idea. But he was immediately game to try it.
I will not write about our Saturday hike as I have already written about that trail and hike when we completed it on another occasion this summer. Further, it was unremarkable except for the fact that we completed the 8.4 mile round trip hike in 3 hours and 50 minutes, including the six minutes we rested, took photos and signed the register at the top. This was a personal best for us.
Monday morning we had planned to get started heading for the Ski Valley by 7:30 so we could be hiking by 8 as they were predicting rain, but got a bit of a late start. Our actual hike started amid cloud cover, unusual for Northern New Mexico, about 8:30 am. The long trail begins at Bull-of-the-Woods trail right out of the Coyote Parking Lot in Taos Ski Valley. It is a relentless uphill climb for a good mile, only made more pleasant by the gurgling stream accompanying you on your right as you struggle to ascend. As we hike, Terry and I both feel sprinkles on our arms. We watch the sky carefully. After about the first mile, it becomes a bit less taxing, but you are still gaining quite a bit of altitude. Coming Next: Part 2: A Race Against the Clock
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