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Trip Planning, Texas, New Mexico, April/May

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Re: Trip Planning, Texas, April/May

Postby jdzaharia » Mon Mar 19, 2012 12:05 am

Thanks for the tips. I do plan to do some highpoints of some sort, whether they be prominence-based, range-based, or state-based. But seeing new interesting places is the priority.

I will study the maps more. Speaking of, I really need to order some Forest Service maps, and potentially, Trails Illustrated maps in order to plan better. Any other maps anybody can suggest would be helpful.
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Re: Trip Planning, Texas, New Mexico, April/May

Postby jdzaharia » Mon Mar 19, 2012 9:59 pm

I added "New Mexico" to the topic title because I realize I probably have more questions about the areas we may visit in New Mexico than in Texas.

It looks like last summer's fires affected the Pecos Wilderness, and portions may still be closed. It looks like they hit Bandelier National Monument pretty hard, too. We probably will skip Bandelier this trip. Any other input on fire impacts?

It looks like there's still a fair bit of snow in the Pecos and Wheeler Peak Wilderness areas. And, it looks like, historically, it won't be gone by the time we're there (late April or early May). Suggestions for mostly snow-free non-technical hiking are appreciated in those areas.

Is Capulin Volcano National Monument worth visiting?
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Re: Trip Planning, Texas, New Mexico, April/May

Postby jfrishmanIII » Mon Mar 19, 2012 11:26 pm

As far as Bandelier goes, if you were thinking of hiking the back country, then yes, skip it. The fires were bad in the back country canyons. But the main ruins and the ruins at Tsankawi are open and fine, and you can still hike down the canyon to Upper Frijoles Falls (Lower is closed, but Upper is better anyway). You could still have a very nice day seeing the main attractions in Bandelier if it fits into your plans.

As for the Pecos, the fire only singed a little area on the west slope where you'd never think to go anyway. But you're right that it will be pretty snowy in there. Lake Peak will probably be pretty doable, though, if you want to get on top of something high and don't mind negotiating a bit of snow on the ski runs (via the ski area would be easier, I'd expect pretty deep snow still on the Raven's Ridge approach). Or Hamilton Mesa in the upper Pecos valley is often hikeable pretty early. I'm not sure exactly when the Iron Gate road opens, and you want to call the Forest Service, but I've been up there several times in late April/early May. It can be a little bleak up there before things turn green, but there are great views of the snowy Truchas Peaks.

The Sandia mountains right outside of Albuquerque have great hiking that time of year, pretty spectacular even if they are right over the city. Wild Rivers north of Taos could be another good option in your time frame, definitely snow-free and nice when the rivers are up. I haven't been to Capulin, but it's certainly on my list to check out some day.
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Re: Trip Planning, Texas, New Mexico, April/May

Postby Bubba Suess » Thu Mar 22, 2012 6:03 am

jdzaharia wrote:It looks like last summer's fires affected the Pecos Wilderness, and portions may still be closed.

I would still be open to heading to the Pecos if the snow load is light. You might consider going to Hermit Peak It is lower than most of the Pecos, is non-technical and absolutely scenic. It is one of my favorite mountains in New Mexico.

It looks like they hit Bandelier National Monument pretty hard, too. We probably will skip Bandelier this trip.

If you are in the Santa Fe area, I would still consider going. Upper Frijole Falls is really neat and it is a very pleasant trail to the falls.

jfrishmanIII wrote:...you can still hike down the canyon to Upper Frijoles Falls (Lower is closed, but Upper is better anyway). You could still have a very nice day seeing the main attractions in Bandelier if it fits into your plans.


Jackson, do you have any idea when they will have the trail down to the lower falls and the river rebuilt?

jdzaharia wrote:Is Capulin Volcano National Monument worth visiting?


It is nice and worth a stop if you are passing through, but I would definitely not go out of my way to get there. You basically drive to the summit and take the short hike around the crater. The views are great, but it is not worth going too far out of your way, especially with so many other good options at your disposal.

jfrishmanIII wrote:The Sandia mountains right outside of Albuquerque have great hiking that time of year, pretty spectacular even if they are right over the city. Wild Rivers north of Taos could be another good option in your time frame, definitely snow-free and nice when the rivers are up.


I agree with both of these statements. In the Sandias, the La Luz Trail It is awesome, non-technical and you can take the gondola down from the summit. The Rio Grande and Red Rivers are certainly scenic and the trails down into the canyons are a lot of fun. There is also a trail along the gorge south of the bridge on Highway 64. If you are going that far, you can also spend a day doing some fun scrambling at Tres Piedras
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Re: Trip Planning, Texas, New Mexico, April/May

Postby jfrishmanIII » Thu Mar 22, 2012 3:18 pm

Jackson, do you have any idea when they will have the trail down to the lower falls and the river rebuilt?


Unfortunately, it's quite possible that the answer may be "never." The Monument has said that it's questionable whether there's a feasible re-route for the trail at all. I think some of this is the no-can-do attitude that is sadly common among New Mexico bureaucracies (I'll bet the old CCC would have found a way!). But it's certainly true that the falls trail is going to be very low on their list of priorities for the foreseeable future. With the high likelihood of more flash floods this summer and down the road, their big concerns are (rightly) for the ruins and the visitor center. For instance, I just saw that because the flood eliminated a lot of parking in the main canyon, most access to the visitor center is going to be by shuttle from White Rock starting in June. All that's to say, rebuilding a sketchy trail is not something they're too concerned about right now.

Just for fun, here's a shot of the flood high water mark from November. There's some wide-angle distortion here, but even so that mark is probably 12-15 feet above the streambed. It was a big one!

Image

Sorry jdzaharia, don't mean to hijack your thread too much!
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Re: Trip Planning, Texas, New Mexico, April/May

Postby Bubba Suess » Thu Mar 22, 2012 3:49 pm

jfrishmanIII wrote:Unfortunately, it's quite possible that the answer may be "never."


That is depressing. That is one of my favorite trails in New Mexico. Like you said, I bet the old CCC would have done it, even if they had to hew it out of the rock. I really hope they will address it in the near future.
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Re: Trip Planning, Texas, New Mexico, April/May

Postby jdzaharia » Thu Mar 22, 2012 9:54 pm

Don't anybody worry about hijacking. The more info the better.

Wow, thanks a lot so far for all the suggestions. I've got a number of ideas, and lots more to wade through.

There seems to be more to do in the Black Mesa area than I first suspected. Has anybody been to Carrizo Canyon in the Comanche NG before? Or Cottonwood Canyon, just to the west of it. Or the Kenton (Basketmaker) Caves?

I will have a lot more questions as our departure date gets closer.
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Re: Trip Planning, Texas, New Mexico, April/May

Postby rasgoat » Fri Mar 23, 2012 4:25 am

I say since your that far down, it may be your only chance to get to Big Bend. It'll be pretty hot but not unbearable. It is worth a visit. Carlsbad Caverns are a must see on my list too!

Hunter Peak in Guadalupe Park is supposed to be nicer than Guadalupe Peak.
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Re: Trip Planning, Texas, New Mexico, April/May

Postby jdzaharia » Thu Mar 29, 2012 4:59 pm

A bunch of maps arrived in the mail yesterday. I hope to get a chance to look them over soon.


rasgoat wrote:I say since your that far down, it may be your only chance to get to Big Bend.

Why do you say it may be my only chance? Is there access or safety issues at Big Bend?

I'm a little torn between spending time around northeastern New Mexico/Oklahoma panhandle or down near Guadalupe/Carlsbad/Big Bend. Probably won't have time for both.
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Re: Trip Planning, Texas, New Mexico, April/May

Postby jfrishmanIII » Fri Mar 30, 2012 3:18 am

The only reason I know of that it would be your only chance is distance. Big Bend is still a hell of a long way from northern NM and the Texas panhandle, but I suppose that's still a drop in the bucket coming from North Dakota. Personally, I'd save Big Bend for a cooler time of year; I certainly wouldn't try and do both areas in one trip.
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Re: Trip Planning, Texas, New Mexico, April/May

Postby jdzaharia » Sun Apr 01, 2012 8:45 pm

I can see myself easily spending a week or more in the Big Bend area, by itself.

The Sandias look neat. Not sure if we'll get that far west and south.

Tres Piedras looks neat. The page here on SP reminds me of Garden of the Gods near Colorado Springs. My parents took us kids there a few times when we were young. I thought it was the neatest place in the world. Might have to check that out.

I've had just a little chance to look at some USFS maps. Questions:

Is State Trust Land open to the public in New Mexico? Oklahoma? Colorado?

What is a "Grant" in New Mexico? The map shows many large areas of land labelled as grants, such as Maxwell Grant, Sangre de Cristo Grant, Mora Grant, etc. Some appear to be all private land, but others seem to include some Forest Service land.

Is a "Pueblo" an Indian Reservation? Some are marked "No Public Entry" right on the map. Anything I should know there?
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Re: Trip Planning, Texas, New Mexico, April/May

Postby jfrishmanIII » Tue Apr 03, 2012 12:47 am

Is State Trust Land open to the public in New Mexico?


You're supposed to have a $25 permit: http://www.nmstatelands.org/Permits.aspx.

What is a "Grant" in New Mexico?


Basically private property. They're areas that were legally deeded to Spanish and Anglo settlers when the US annexed New Mexico (actually, a lot of them originated with the kings of Spain and were later reaffirmed by the Americans: real estate lawyers around here sometimes work with some really old documents in archaic Spanish). Some areas have ended up going back to the federal government, so those Forest Service areas you're seeing are probably okay. But most land grants are private and managed as such, though you can often drive through on public roads.

Is a "Pueblo" an Indian Reservation?


Yes. The pueblos themselves are generally open to visitors, though they often prohibit photography. And some of them have public attractions, such as Nambe Falls and the Puye Cliff Dwellings. But most other areas aren't open to at large wandering. (It's different out on the big Navajo res, where you can get permits to access most areas.)

Hope that helps! Let me know if you're wondering about anywhere specific and I'll see what I may know.
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Re: Trip Planning, Texas, New Mexico, April/May

Postby jdzaharia » Wed Apr 18, 2012 6:51 pm

I've been looking at the webcams for the Taos and Santa Fe ski areas a bit lately. It looks a little snowy up there, yet.

Last night I was eating supper with some friends, and they had a book that listed the best places to eat all over the US. For giggles, I looked up Texas, and the Golden LIght was listed and it mentioned the Frito Pie. A brief internet search leads me to believe James McMurtry will be in New England while we're in TX and NM.
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Re: Trip Planning, Texas, New Mexico, April/May

Postby Andrew Rankine » Wed Apr 18, 2012 11:58 pm

Guadalupe has absolutely nothing around it. It is a nice area though. Carlsbad, NM is the closest city. Carlsbad Caverns are worth a visit as well. Wheeler is a great hike if there is not too much snow. I have no idea what the conditions there are now.
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Re: Trip Planning, Texas, New Mexico, April/May

Postby jdzaharia » Tue Apr 24, 2012 7:22 pm

rankinesoccer wrote:Wheeler is a great hike if there is not too much snow.

I would like to hike Wheeler, but it looks like there is quite a bit of snow up there, yet, judging by the snow cover map and the Ski area's webcam. Also, I think the Lake Peak, Penitente, Santa Fe Baldy loop would be neat, but there seems to be a bit of snow there, too. The eastern side of the Pecos looks mostly snow-free.
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