How could a land also known as the Land of Enchantment be called God Forsaken Country. This is the story of how my uncle, an avid outdoor adventurist and naturalist, described the tundra land of God Hill in the Taos Mountains as being God Forsaken Country. It was a fall day in October, the Aspen were changing, and the weather was crisp as we started out the day. A couple days before the high country had received about 8 inches of snow and we could see that the high peaks were plastered with snow from the trailhead at Taos Ski Valley. The party consisted of me, my dad, my aunt, my uncle, and my German Shepherd. It was this day that tested my uncle's love of the mountains.
Up Long Canyon
For this trip up Gold Hill we decided that we would take the Long Canyon Trail as we usually encounter less snow on it for some reason. Like I said it was cold and we were bundled up but the wind was calm and it was quite comfortable hiking weather. As we ventured up past from 10,000ft we started to encounter patches of snow in the shade amongst the trees. This of course thrilled our dog as snow is his best friend in the world. As we kept climbing the snow would get deeper and deeper but it maxed out at about 10 inches in some places and was never deep enough to prohibit climbing. As we exited Long Canyon and left the tree line we were greeted with a taste of what was to come as the wind was pretty strong and the temperature was still about 30 degrees. The views were awesome and the majority of the party decided to continue on but my aunt was forced to give up and seek refuge in the trees.
The God Forsaken Country
As we left the treeline and continued up and over a small ridge that offers views of Lobo Peak and a first view of the false summit the winds were truly incredible. Our estimates were steady 80mph with gusts possibly exceeding 100mph. This wind combined with the temperature below freezing created very difficult climbing conditions. The best that we could do was to put one foot in front of the other and try to hide our faces from the wind. At one point I decided to try and walk sideways to keep my face from the wind but it didn't really make a difference. Finally we made it up to right below the false summit and the view of Goose Lake far below. Here my dad and I waited for my uncle who was dragging up behind freezing his but off. I climbed down the ridge a ways through snow to try to escape the cold. Looking back at it now I was taking a risk going down the snow ridge which was very steep but at the time I was to cold to even care. When my uncle finally caught up he gave his famous statement that I will remember for the rest of my life. He said,"You know this is God Forsaken Country, and I am going back down." I never thought I would hear my uncle who loves the outdoors describe this beautiful snow plastered land as being God Forsaken. I guess being cold can do wanders to your brain. My dad and I decided to proceed upwards with our dog and brave the cold. Eventually about 100 feet below the summit my dad was forced to take refuge below a rock and it was down to my dog and I. As we struggled onwards I remember watching the wind turn my 110 pound German Shepherd sideways from one side to the other. At one point I sware he was lifted off the ground a little bit. At the top we took refuge in a wind block and I had some coveted Chocolate Cashews, while we were up there my dog kept trying to actually get under me and away from the cold. I have watched him break through ice in the Cimarron River to go swimming but I had never seen him act cold until this day. We decided to get the heck out of there and we met back up with my dad and fought our way back down to tree line. This is where we met my warmed up uncle and asked him about his experiences. He described that he had actually been worried that he was getting close to death or at least some kind of bad medical predicament. He was actually worried for his life up on Gold Hill in GOD FORSAKEN COUNTRY.
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