My family owns a cabin near the Angustora trail head, from which we snowmobile out of in the winter. I had only hiked past our normal snowmobiling areas twice in my life both when I was young.
Me and a friend from school went up there in mid-May 2008 to do some hiking. The day we arrived at our cabin it was very warm in the 70s probably, but when I heard that a system was coming in the day of our planned hike I knew there could be problems. The forecast called for 50s and rain for Vadito so I knew that we would probably get some snow up above 9000', and we did only about 4 inches down at 9000' but much more fell as we climbed in elevation on top of an ever increasing late spring snow pack.
We were greeted that morning by some light to moderate snow which was nice after coming up there from muggy Texas. However, neither me or my friend were prepared for what we encountered up on the mountain. I was not prepared physically, but I was satisfactorily prepared with my gear and clothing. My friend did not have the necessary clothing though I told him what he would need. My lacking physical endurance and his lack of adequate clothing eventually forced us to turn around after trudging through snow that was getting to be thigh deep. Another problem was that we had no idea where we were, but the our tracks in the snow were easy enough to follow. I will bring a GPS next time or someone experienced with the trail or maybe even something better than a hand-drawn map.
Either do the hike later in the summer or be prepared for a deep snow pack. I will make sure I have a way to know where I am much more accurately. I would recommend to do the climb in September when the snow pack is at its lowest and after the summer monsoon thunderstorms. Hopefully I will be able to retry the climb this summer with some more friends and more experience.
We will again attempt Jicarita and possibly Chimayosos/Truchas group in a couple weeks (May 20th or so). To do it all will require a 40+ mile hike, with a large portion above 12,000 ft. At least the high altitude will mean we will be out of the forest for a good portion of the 3 day hike.
The determining factors in whether we succeed or not will be how quickly we adjust to the altitude and the prevailing mid-May snow conditions.