As the Santa Fe National Forest came to a close last June, the nearby, massive, and quite remote Carson Nat’l Forest was calling. As an avid explorer of the Southwest and a local Santa Fean I’ve been lucky enough to explore this land that offers a feeling of never-ending solitude and relentless beauty.
With the closure, much of the Pecos wilderness is inaccessible, except for the wild Northern section which only encompasses a few drainages, but these are some of the best kept secrets of the state.
I packed up my 4runner for a car camping adventure. The days are long now and the evening temps almost perfect. Windows down and only open road ahead. As I passed some of the small run down villages on the high road dusk turned to dark. Off the pavement and onto the smoothly graded dirt road that led me past El Valle and eventually to the Trampas Lakes trailhead. Camp was made in a flash and off to sleep on beautiful Mother Earth I went.
On the trail by 9, hiking along a clear stream the whole way to the impressive alpine Lakes. After a short rest by the inlet of one of these pristine bodies of water the real climbing would begin. The ascent route looks daunting from either lake as the entire ridge and slopes below are covered in giant craggy rock spires. Many gullies present themselves, but to choose the right one could prove tricky. Rock hopping in a giant boulder field at the base of this ridge provided great views into some of the upper gullies. Finally a smooth, wide slope mixed with grass and scree presented itself. This was the way to go. Upon topping out I noticed a small cairn that looked like it had been untouched for decades. Cool! Although any sight of man in natural settings can be a turn off, cairns like this can help extremely with navigation.
The steep but non-technical climb to point 12,900 felt wildly remote. The views into the opposing drainages and deep into the Pecos Wilderness were jaw dropping and forced me to stop and take in the magnitude of such a place. The class 4/crux of the climb up Truchas was visible. I approached with uncertainty and a small amount of fear. The exposure was all there! Once atop the crux the going was an easy walk to the Summit crest of one of New Mexico’s most wild places. I had been up here before a few times but had always come up the standard/more easy route. Exploring new routes, whether it’s in a canyon or up a mountain is always rewarding, particularly when you feel like you’re one of a few who have ever stepped foot in that same place.
The World is wide open and just waiting for us to explore it.