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Pecos Wilderness Route Help: Truchas Peaks

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Pecos Wilderness Route Help: Truchas Peaks

Postby jdzaharia » Thu Jul 17, 2014 7:11 pm

I am considering a trip in the next few weeks to the Pecos Wilderness. My main goal is Truchas Peak, but I have thought about trying to tag North Truchas, also. What is the ridge between (South) Truchas and North Truchas like? I'm a hiker and I'll have an overnight pack, but no climbing equipment or experience. I was planning to camp at the Jacks Creek Trailhead the night before, go in early to hike the peaks the first day, camp at Truchas Lakes or Pecos Baldy Lake, then out in the morning of the second day. Is this a reasonable plan this time of year with possible afternoon storms?
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Re: Pecos Wilderness Route Help: Truchas Peaks

Postby jfrishmanIII » Thu Jul 17, 2014 11:51 pm

The ridge, from South Truchas over Medio and down to the pass between Truchas Lakes and Rio Quemado, is a blast! Straightforward with some easy class III bits, pretty good rock, awesome views. That ridge is my favorite part of hiking the Truchas, much more fun than the slog up the south side. The views from Middle and Medio are IMO way better than from South, too. I always feel sorry for folks I talk to who bagged the highpoint from the south and just returned the same way. This ought to give you some sense of what to expect, though the camera may make things look a little more dramatic than they really are: http://frishmanphoto.wordpress.com/2011/10/16/truchas-peaks/.

I haven't climbed North Truchas from that side, but I understand that it's fine, probably pretty similar to what I just described. This photo depicts the very beginning of that section.

I don't know how much time you have to play with, but if you can manage it, I'd recommend base camping at Truchas Lakes and scrambling from there, much nicer place than Pecos Baldy Lake. Hiking straight from Jack's Creek to the summit with an overnight pack strikes me as ambitious even without thunderstorms to worry about, definitely a big day and arguable a bit of a slog. Unless you're an ultra-marathoner type, I'd say the Truchas group really deserves three days for proper enjoyment. A little extra time would also give you a chance to climb Chimayosos or Pecos Baldy, both of which are nice. You could also consider hiking in from the north via Rio Santa Barbara, which is a much prettier approach than from Jack's Creek (though you would miss Trailrider's Wall, which is awesome). If you're limited to two days out, North Truchas from Las Trampas might be an option worth considering.
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Re: Pecos Wilderness Route Help: Truchas Peaks

Postby Bubba Suess » Fri Jul 18, 2014 6:46 am

Jackson, that photo spread you linked to is one of my favorites on your site. It really does show how awesome the Truchas Peaks are. No disrespect to Wheeler intended, but the Truchas Peaks will always be New Mexico's high point for me, at least in terms of scenery.

Did you ever make it to Quemado Falls?
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Re: Pecos Wilderness Route Help: Truchas Peaks

Postby jfrishmanIII » Fri Jul 18, 2014 4:34 pm

Did you ever make it to Quemado Falls?


No, alas. It's definitely an item on my long list of unfinished business with New Mexico.
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Re: Pecos Wilderness Route Help: Truchas Peaks

Postby jdzaharia » Fri Jul 18, 2014 5:08 pm

jfrishmanIII wrote:Hiking straight from Jack's Creek to the summit with an overnight pack strikes me as ambitious even without thunderstorms to worry about
I think I'm coming more to that realization. I really wish I had at least another half a day to spend in the area.

Planning to camp at Truchas Lakes would also help me hedge against storms by giving me an option to stay below the treeline if it's bad, or allowing me to stay on the Truchas ridge if the weather is good. My thought was I could hike up Jacks Creek the first morning, and depending when the weather started to look bad, I'd have bail-out options at both ends of the Trailriders Wall. If it was good, I'd continue to the Peak(s), then I could camp at Truchas Lakes or head back to Pecos Baldy Lake. But, I think you are right--that sounds more like a 3-day trip than a 1.5-day trip.

The other option is to leave my overnight stuff at Pecos Baldy Lake, and hike the peaks with a light pack, but that is committing a lot of time above the treeline without a good contingency plan.



jfrishmanIII wrote:North Truchas from Las Trampas might be an option worth considering.

I have a few questions about that option. The map does not show an actual trail from Trampas Lakes up to the peaks. Is there a use trail or at least a straightforward route? It looks very steep on the topo map. Is the Trampas trailhead prone to vandalism or other sketchy activities, as I've heard about some of the trailheads in the area?

I'll have to spend some time on your blog site. Great photos.
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Re: Pecos Wilderness Route Help: Truchas Peaks

Postby jfrishmanIII » Sat Jul 19, 2014 1:45 am

A viable option would be to hike in and camp at PB Lake on day 1. If time and weather permit, you could hike Pecos Baldy that day (west summit is nice too). Then you get an alpine start and do the Truchas day 2, then hike out. it'd be a very long day, but at least the exposed terrain would come in the morning that way.

I've never seen anything at Las Trampas trailhead to make me uneasy, and I think a lot of the area's bad reputation is somewhat out of date. Plenty of people hike that trail with no issues. Take common sense precautions, but I'd say Las Trampas is fine. There's no trail beyond the Lakes, but it's straightforward to gain the ridge on the west side of the valley then follow it to North Truchas: http://www.summitpost.org/n-ridge-of-n-truchas/245678. See also: http://www.summitpost.org/sheepshead-peak-un-12-900/245372. There's a fun Class III stretch near the top. I've also taken the more direct chutes from just west of UN 12,900 back down to the lakes. But the ridge on the east side of the valley is best avoided unless you're a glutton for punishment. If you had time, energy and weather, you could also drop down into Rio Quemado and go look at the waterfall Bubba mentions above. Or if you hump your overnight pack up to the ridge, you could descend via San Leonardo Lakes and loop back to the trailhead.
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Re: Pecos Wilderness Route Help: Truchas Peaks

Postby jdzaharia » Sat Jul 19, 2014 3:50 am

Lots to consider. That North Truchas area looks pretty neat. Is Trampas the trailhead that requires permission from the local land grant?
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Re: Pecos Wilderness Route Help: Truchas Peaks

Postby jfrishmanIII » Sat Jul 19, 2014 4:21 am

No, Las Trampas is straight up Forest Service, no red tape or fees (at least not in 2011). Jack's Creek does have a parking fee, I forget how much, so you'd want to have a little cash in your wallet.
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Re: Pecos Wilderness Route Help: Truchas Peaks

Postby jdzaharia » Mon Jul 28, 2014 5:17 pm

Thanks for the info. I decided to put this off for now, until I have more time to explore the area.

I decided to go to the Santa Fe Ski Basin area and hike the Ravens Ridge, Deception Peak, Lake Peak, Penitente Peak, Santa Fe Baldy loop. I camped in the meadows below/west of Puerto Nambe.

I had good views of the Truchas Peaks which was really inspriring for me to plan a future trip.
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Re: Pecos Wilderness Route Help: Truchas Peaks

Postby spiderman » Fri Dec 12, 2014 5:24 pm

I hope that you do the Truchas Peaks next year. I had a blast with the combination of South & North peaks with my son. We hiked in a couple hours the first night and set up camp.

The next morning we got up a couple hours before dawn. The route up South Truchas is surprisingly fast for being trail-less. The traverse to North Truchas is one of the best that I have done. It is moderate Colorado-type (easy) 3rd class with minimal exposure. With light daypacks it was a piece of cake. Your only on the exposed ridge for an hour before you regain options to bail out. The danger of getting trapped by a thunderstorm is not particularly high if you have good planning. There was no trail coming down from North Truchas but it wasn't bad if your ankles are strong. It only took an hour to get down to the lakes. We got back to the car at 6 pm; a long day since there were a bunch of miles. Nevertheless it isn't bad with a daypack.

Definitely do these peaks! Don't miss out on this fun traverse!
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Re: Pecos Wilderness Route Help: Truchas Peaks

Postby jdzaharia » Tue Oct 06, 2015 3:35 pm

I am again considering a trip to the Pecos Wilderness, with the Truchas Peaks as one specific goal, in the next couple weeks. I'm planning to take 2.5 to 3 days with two nights. It would be nice to leave my overnight stuff at camp on the morning of the second day, and return to it that evening. I think I've decided I will start at either the Trampas or Jacks Creek trailhead. In addition to what is posted above, I'd like any additional input anybody would care to offer.

Questions:

1. Can I expect temps below, say, 20F?
2. Is there likely to be water going over Quemado Falls?
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Re: Pecos Wilderness Route Help: Truchas Peaks

Postby jfrishmanIII » Tue Oct 06, 2015 7:03 pm

I don't expect you'd get below 20 degrees in October (I didn't in a late fall Las Trampas trip), but watch the forecasts. If you have warmer gear, you might consider at least bringing it to NM. As for the falls, it's been a wet summer, so my educated guess is that they would have water, though maybe not a whole lot. I could also see them being pretty iced up, with just a bit of water flowing. Good luck and happy travels!
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Re: Pecos Wilderness Route Help: Truchas Peaks

Postby jdzaharia » Fri Oct 16, 2015 3:58 pm

I did finally make it into the Truchas Peaks area last weekend. From the Jacks Creek Trailhead, I hiked to Pecos Baldy Lake on the morning of the first day. After setting up camp and relaxing a little, I hiked up East Pecos Baldy. From the summit, the route to (West) Pecos Baldy looked a little challenging. But, I went for it, and it wasn't bad at all. The sky had been mostly overcast all day. The clouds were at the perfect height, where Santa Fe Baldy was completely visible, but the summits of the Truchas group were in the clouds. Back at camp, I had a nice conversation with a couple from Pennsylvania.

The morning of the second day, I got up early enough to be on the trail at first light. I wanted to be on Trailriders Wall at sunrise, and that was a great decision. The scenery was excellent. Not a cloud in the sky. I spent more time framing photos than hiking. The views of the Truchas Group above the Wall were awesome. I could see exactly how jfrishmanIII captured the photos in his gallery. I was fascinated with the giant cairns across the top of the Wall, and the fairly heavy frost still on everything. A group of bighorn sheep ewes and lambs were grazing in the sun on the side of PT 11979.

The route up to Truchas Peak was pretty straightforward. Sometimes cairned, sometimes a well-worn trail, sometimes just rock-hopping straight up. From the top of (South) Truchas, the routes to Middle Truchas and especially North Truchas looked nasty. I scoped them both out with my binoculars. One person was standing on top of Middle and a group of three were on North. I waited and watched to see if I could see any of them come down, so as to make note of their route. The person on Middle escaped out of sight, apparently off the north ridge of the mountain, and the group on North escaped also to the north. Darn.

I headed for Middle, sidehilling, sometimes on a faint sheep trail, to the saddle between Medio and Middle. It looked easier than summiting Medio, but I am not sure it was. The easiest travel was usually right on the ridge. The views from Middle were even better than from Truchas. I walked the ridge back to the summit of Medio. There are some awesome viewpoints along that ridge. But, it was from there that I decided I would not attempt a side trip down to Quemado Falls today. The trail from the saddle below North Truchas did not look fun. Basically micro switchbacks up a scree slope.

I took what seemed like a very unorthodox route across the saddle/ridge between Medio Truchas Peak and North Truchas. I downclimbed talus, sidehilled talus, sidehilled grassy slopes, climbed over knife-edges, bypassed obstacles to the right, and bypassed obstacles to the left. When I got to the base of the southwest ridge of North Truchas, I looked for a route up, but didn't see many good options that I would be comfortable with. I also underestimated the time it took me to get from (South) Truchas to Middle to Medio, and then across the ridge to North. In order to make it back to my camp at Pecos Baldy Lake before sunset, I decided not to try North Truchas today. I'm not sure I would come back to try it from the same direction, at least not alone. The three approach options are bad: 1) the one I took, 2) up a scree slope from Truchas Lakes, 3) up a scree slope from the Rio Quemado. Maybe I'll try it from the north ridge or east ridge. I slid down the slope to Truchas Lakes, headed south up onto Trailriders Wall and continued to Pecos Baldy Lake via the saddle directly north of it. Sunset views from near that saddle, back to the Truchas group were very nice. There was hardly a cloud all day. Despite seeing a few others on distant peaks, and a number of people camped around the lake, I did not meet another person on the trail all day.

The morning of the third day, I packed up early and hiked back to the trailhead.

So, future trips to the area will include Quemado Falls, North Truchas, and Chimayosos, among other places. I think the summit of Chimayosos, or even the saddle below it, would be a great place to be at sunrise.
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