Weekend at Truchas Peaks camping bowl
Truchas Peaks Trip Report
Wilderness high altitude hiking and tenting alone (as in mostly no other tent in the whole camping area!) in late July 2010. A heads up about details. If you have been there before this probably won’t be useful.
Drive East through town and continue on the road. At a fork you can go right which is prettier or left which is easier on your vehicle. At the lopsided T turn right. Left is an old logging road. Road has been improved. Still requires high-clearance vehicle, but not necessarily 4WD.
There is car vandalism at the trailhead. An alternative is to park at Jerry Fuentes’ house (505) 689-2441 and pay someone to drive you to/from the trailhead. His cousin Genero (505) 901-1918 or 505 689-1156 and 2 friends (since something always goes wrong when they go up there. Four in front seat) drove me. $50 RT for one person, no dog. Otherwise $30 per person and $10 per dog. 9.5 miles took one hour each way. Examples of what has gone wrong: His truck got a flat on the way back from a stick in the mud. As 10-year-olds they were stuck in a hailstorm with no shelter. Fun guys with lots of advice like if you get lost follow the creek west to town, stay north of the creek.
The advantage of parking at the trailhead is that you can walk the 1 1/2 hours out and leave any time, say the evening before you planned to, while your gear is dry.
Slept on ledge by Falls the first night. Backpack hip belt buckle gnawed off and disappeared. Packrat is prime suspect. What other critter would want it?
Packing an extra pair of winter socks, hat and gloves for sleeping would not have been a bad idea.
There were a few signs driving through town indicating bed and breakfast lodging in Truchas. Internet search will bring up names if that is what you want.
Someone has removed a number of trail signs but the first one which says to go left to Quemado Falls will get you on the correct trail. The most defined trail is the correct trail. First camping area is about a mile up the trail. Steady, easy to follow trail. Took 2 hrs to get to bowl, not pushing it.
Lots of meadows, marshy areas, springs, creeks and wooded areas in the camping bowl or couloir. This is not the place for camouflage tent unless you have outstanding sense of direction. Water in creeks is very cold.
Camping couloir is about 11,000’. Ridge top is about 12,000’ Summits around 13,000’.
Campers have left almost no trash. Bears are not foraging for treats. Yay.
If possible set up camp the day before summiting so you can scope out the switchbacks in the SE of the couloir. Switchbacks aren’t that easy to find, especially in rain or pre-dawn. Follow cairns. When trail through woods peters out you should have crossed the creek on the right.
The map says there is a trail circling the couloir so if you walk East you should find it. Doesn’t work that way. 20 small trails pick up and drop off to the East. Try to follow main trail by cairns loosely along creek.
I climbed up a steep rockslide since I didn’t find the switchbacks and wanted to get going. Can’t recommend it.
Ridge runs north to North Truchas peak and south to Mid and West Truchas Peaks. Cloud buildup one day meant thunderstorm by the time I returned to the tent, next day same conditions meant nothing but on and off drizzle all day. Not knowing what would happen with weather, I played it safe and didn’t summit either day. Disappointing.
If you are up there alone there is probably no one close by that even knows you are up there. No rescue if anything goes wrong. Cell Phone could give time but not make or receive a call or access the Internet.
Along the ridge I wasn’t looking for a hike along stegosaurus spines. Not always easy to find trails through steep saddles. Advice on where the N saddle trail is? Especially heading south along the ridge, some “easiest way” trail indicators would have been helpful. I’d be rock climbing then from the top see a way around. There were easier trails a little below, but didn’t seem to find a way to start on them.
Quemado Falls, a thin trail above Hidden Lake and Hidden Lake south of the Falls if you end up down in the camping area but still want a hiking destination outside tent.
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