My dad had always wanted to climb Touch Me Not since his two trips to Philmont with my brother and me. I decided it was time for me to get back into the mountains and I thought my eight year old son would enjoy the challenge. We decided to attempt the mountain on Labor Day weekend due to the fact that it takes us at least twelve hours to drive to Eagle Nest.
After leaving Eagle Nest, we proceeded up the logging road to the trailhead guided only by the USGS quad and a local guidebook. The drive up the mountain spooked my son. He had never been exposed to a road of this quality with such steep sides. Unfortunately, the description of the trailhead was very vague and we ended up driving to the summit of Green Mountain, where there are several radio antennae. After reviewing the guidebook, the map, and making "pit stops", we loaded up and headed back down stopping at just about every location that remotely resembled the description of the trailhead in the guidebook. After unloading and hiking down an apparent logging road, we decided this was not the correct place. We finally found a small rock cairn located near a utility pole.
As we hiked down the logging road in the shade of the timber, my son was nervous about the hike. By the time we reached the saddle and took a break, he was excited about the climb ahead. Being from lower elevations and not having spent enough time acclimatizing, we would walk one hundred steps and stop to catch our breath. This discouraged us but we pressed on. At timberline, the temperatures were much lower than when we started. We could also tell that the wind was picking up. We stopped, added a layer, and proceeded. About one third of the way to the alpine meadow, we stopped to put another layer on my son. During this stop I felt some vertigo due to the steepness of the slope we were on. I figured it would pass and did not want to frighten my son. Once we were moving the feeling passed.
On the summit, three hours after leaving the trailhead, the views were spectacular, but so was the wind. After taking the obligatory summit photo, my son and I hunkered down in one of the rock shelters while my dad took pictures. We decided to call the rest of the family to tell them we had made the summit and to expect us back in a few hours. We then began the journey back down.
All went well until I tried to make the last step from the rocks onto the dirt at timberline. The rock I was stepping from shifted and I twisted a knee. We stopped to shed a layer and I took some ibuprofen to dull the pain. My son had been leading us to set the pace since he was the weakest hiker. Now I was the leader and I was setting a slow pace with every step down the mountain jarring my wounded knee. When we reached the saddle, we took another break and my son thought he was getting a blister. We moleskinned his toe and continued to the car, arriving two hours after leaving the summit.
The weather was nice and a new person was introduced to the mountains. We have continued to attempt at least one peak each summer as a group and my daughters are itching to climb with us. Touch Me Not has become the planned first ascent for my family.
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