Trips Category: Multi-day Hikes

johnfroehlich July 17, 2021 0

[M006] Colorado High Mountain Adventure

09/06/21 – 09/08/21

This 2 night 3-day adventure will take us high into some of the most pristine and remote wilderness Colorado has to offer. The South San Juans are way less frequented than their more popular neighboring mountains to the north. The lofty Continental Divided trail runs through the heart of this rugged country as it makes its way south into the land of enchantment. In destinations such as these, it is likely to see more wildlife than humans. This is wilderness at its best as the landscape defines the meaning. Man is clearly just a visitor.

Day 1

This adventure will take off from Santa Fe, meaning one will need to arrange their travel plans accordingly. We will make our way north quickly passing through any remaining congested areas and into the vastness of the northwestern part of this state. The drive alone is majestic enough. Once through the small village of Chama, we will climb high into the South San Juans reaching Cumbres and La Manga passes. A drop down to the Conejos valley and a winding scenic road will take us to our starting point just past the impressive Platoro reservoir. From the Three Forks trailhead, we will follow the upper Conejos river through inviting meadows and up gradual terrain to our camp just a few miles in. We will establish a base camp in this mountain paradise where we will be for the next two nights.

Day 2

Because of the way this trip is structured we will have the ability to leave the brunt of our gear behind and day hike up into the mesmerizing high country. From camp, we will climb up the well-established trail into the upper basins of this vast drainage. After a few miles of consistent climbing, we will meet with the Continental Divide Trail. Here we will follow the scenic route over a high mountain pass into the opposing drainage. Once we arrive we’ll make a well-deserved descent into another vast basin. This will loop us right back to camp, making for a perfect circuit in a seldom-visited land. The terrain and breathtaking landscape will stay in your memory bank which will be something you will always be able to reflect on. This is truly one of the most special places on this planet.

Day 3

We will have a casual departure back to the trailhead. The drive home will provide many opportunities to visit spots we passed by on the way in. The peaceful roads of northern New Mexico provide a nice easy adjustment back into civilization after several days away. The beautiful city of Santa Fe awaits.

johnfroehlich May 17, 2019 0

[M001] Alpine Lakes Route

Day 1

This 3 day/2 night backpacking trip allows one to thoroughly discover a large, beautiful section of the Pecos Wilderness. This loop includes three pristine mountain lakes, a historical trail (Winsor), and the potential summit experience of Santa Fe Baldy. On day one we will begin our trek from an area known as the Cowles ponds. From here we will begin our gradual ascent on south-facing slopes, traversing in and out through multiple drainages. After a few miles of moderately difficult hiking through stands of spruce, boxelder, and pine our senses will truly engage with the unresisting energy of this beautiful quiet place. We will be hiking on the North ridge of Winsor creek. At times we will have views through the forest of the creek far below and the south ridge which we will be returning on. Wildlife is typically abundant in this area. Rocky Mountain Elk, Black Bear, Red tail hawks, coyote, mule deer, and Big Horned sheep make this wild canyon home. After approximately 5 miles of hiking, we will come to Winsor creek. The trail will lead us to the outlet of this serene New Mexico gem. This is where we will spend the next 2 nights making our basecamp somewhere in the vicinity of the lake respecting NM guidelines of not camping within 200 ft of the lake basin or streams.

Day 2

This day will be filled with high country adventure! Best of all we will not be lugging our heavy packs along with us. If an attempt at Santa Fe Baldy’s rocky summit is in order then the earlier we start our day the better our chances will be for making it to the top. Afternoon thunderstorms dominate the Southwest during the Summer months and Baldy’s treeless summit is no place to be during a storm. Either way, once we leave camp we’ll climb approximately 2 and a half miles on the skyline trail (251) to the well-known Lake Katherine, a true Alpine Lake. From here we will contour around Baldy’s Eastern slopes to a pass. At this point, we will make our decision whether or not to attempt the summit. If so, we climb as we watch the trees dwarf and eventually disappear. There is maximum exposure to the elements up here so we best all be prepared for anything. It’s about one mile and 1,000 ft of elevation gain on a solid trail to the rewarding summit. Everything can be seen from up here including the entire Pecos Wilderness, Jemez, Sandia, and Ortiz ranges. Not to mention San Antonito mountain at the CO border. Once enough time has been spent to allow the senses to calm we will make our way back down to the pass. From this point, we will descend over the course of a couple of miles to Puerto Nambe-a gorgeous meadowed area. This will be a good place for a rest. At this point, we will branch off of the skyline and meet the Winsor once again. This time casually hiking through the subalpine forest to our last stop at Spirit Lake. Only a couple more miles of easy hiking will bring us back to base camp at Stewart Lake. This will have been a long day.

Day 3

It will be time to say goodbye to this beautiful place that we called home for a few days. As we leave we will feel the effects and positive impacts of a couple of nights spent in the wilderness. We are better people for having experienced nature at this level. A rare experience indeed. We will trek back on the South ridge (North facing side). This side holds snow longer in the Winter and Spring months, therefore, creating a perfect habitat for the flora that thrives at these high altitudes. At times it may seem like a jungle in comparison to the other side. A New Mexico jungle that is. Our trek will eventually lead us down to the mountain stream of winsor creek. A short hike along the creek will bring us to a campground and back to the front country. To complete the trek we will need to road walk one mile back to our vehicle.

johnfroehlich May 17, 2019 0

[M002] NM High Country Expedition

Pecos Baldy lake/Truchas Peak (south)

This particular backpacking trip is an epic 3 day tour de Pecos. We will not only visit the wildernesses most impressive alpine lake but we will also climb the highest peak. Truchas Peaks are the heart of the wilderness and make up the headwaters of the Pecos river . They consist of three craggy mountains that rise up to over 13,000 ft. Because of where these mountains are situated access typically requires an overnight trip. This is hands down the premier summit experience to be had in this area. The never ending views, alpine scenery, and challenge of these high altitudes make this the most empowering trip we offer.

Day 1

This spectacular section of the wilderness requires about an hour and a half drive from Santa Fe to access it’s starting point. We will pass through the village of Pecos, taking us up canyon along the wild Pecos river. After passing the small village of Terrero at 13 miles the road narrows and climbs high above the river. We will continue on this road to the Jack’s Creek trailhead. On the we will pass a series of large creeks and rivers that make up the Pecos river system. This is a popular destination for car camping and fishing during the Summer months. From our trailhead we will climb through the dense and well shaded pine forest to a ridge that splits the Pecos river and Jack’s creek drainages. After about 2.5 miles the ridge crests at a series of large meadows and lovely aspen groves. Cattle are commonly seen here during the Summer months as it is a popular area for grazing. The ascent mellows out a bit for the next couple of miles and pleasant walking through meadows and patches of forest bring us to Jack’s creek. Our climbing will begin again as we ascend the creek’s drainage to it’s source (Pecos Baldy Lake). A half mile of hiking will keep us alongside the welcoming waters and will bring us to the junction with the Dockweiler trail. At this point the trail continues to follow the drainage but the creek is not seen again until we near the lake. The terrain changes as we find ourselves hiking through a burn scar. New growth dominate the area and the quick to sprout Aspens give hope to a healthy stretch of forest to be had once again. A couple miles of hiking, following the forested canyon upstream will bring us to the impressive lake basin. This is where we will spend the next 2 nights making our basecamp somewhere in the vicinity of the lake respecting NM guidelines of not camping within 200 ft of the lake basin or streams.

Day 2

The typical monsoon pattern in this area will have thunderheads beginning to form around these high peaks as early as 10am. Since the brunt of our day will be in the alpine above the trees a very early start will be necessary in order to increase our likelihood of making it to the summit. There is potential for a day with no moisture at all but up here it is too hard to predict and not worth taking the risk. From basecamp we will pick up the skyline trail and head North through the pine forest to the alpine tundra of an area known as trailriders wall. Once we exit the forest we will leave the protection of the coniferous shelter. Everything changes with intensity above treeline. After several hours in this wild, exposed land it is easy to understand how not much survives up here. Although incredibly beautiful it is a harsh and unforgiving land that demands the utmost respect from anyone who passes by. Weather provided we will continue on to one of New Mexico’s highest peaks. A couple miles of gentle walking on rolling tundra will bring us to an area where we will leave the established trail and head directly towards a false summit which blocks our view of Truchas peak. A mild descent from the false summit will lead us to a saddle. From here the hiking will become more challenging and prove to be quite steep. No climbing is involved but there may be spots where scrambling will feel necessary. Once atop, our presence will be rewarded with never ending views and the feeling of climbing one of the areas highest and most remote mountains. We will return via the same way we came, however, is a storm rolls in we may opt to take a longer but forested trail back to basecamp.

Day 3

Depending on the groups energy levels, desires, and of course weather we will have the opportunity of hiking to the top of Pecos Baldy before making our trek back to the jack’s creek trailhead. If it feels right for everyone we will leave camp early and begin our ascent of Pecos Baldy. This summit is only a mile or so from camp but gains over 1,000 ft in elevation on its way. There is a nice path leading all the way to the top. More breathtaking views await the determined hiker. After the summit we will head back to camp and pack up. Once rested and ready we will make the 7 mile trek back to the trailhead. Regardless of making it to the tops of the mountains this will be a wonderful trek with incredible opportunities for exploration. This is an ultimate tour of New Mexico’s high country and the vastness of the Pecos Wilderness.

Out and Back Hike
Total Hiking Distance: Lake only 15 miles, Lake and Truchas peak 23 miles, Lake with Truchas Peak and Pecos Baldy 24.5 miles
Estimated Hiking Time: Day 1: 5 hours, Day 2: 7-9 hours, Day 3: With Peak 6 hours

johnfroehlich July 27, 2018 0

[M003] Grand Canyon – Wild Escalante Route

Tanner to Grandview

10/27/21 – 10/31/21  &  02/23/22 – 02/27/22

Located in one of the most scenic parts of the canyon, the Escalante route traverses a section of the Grand that is not only wild beyond belief but also seldom seen. The Park Service considers this a route and not a trail, meaning more challenging conditions are likely. Navigation is the main factor on this primitive stretch. A map and familiarity with the land are of high value when on the Escalante. The area has gained in popularity over the years but, the fact that it is still labeled a route keeps many people away.

Our 3 night/4 day shuttle hike will begin at Lipan point on the far East side of the Desert View Drive. From here we will descend the Tanner trail to the Colorado River, and traverse the Escalante route to the beginning of the Tonto East trail. From this point, we will climb to the Tonto plateau where we will begin our ascent of Horseshoe Mesa and the Grandview. In total, we will cover 30.9 miles. This is the most aggressive trek we offer in the Grand Canyon. Not only is the terrain highly challenging, but this is also a Winter hike, and although we feel it is the ideal time to trek in the canyon storms still exist. Temps will vary greatly from rim to river. It is not uncommon to be in a tank top on the river and layered to the max on the rim. The prepared hiker is the happy hiker.

Day one: If Santa Fe is our starting point day one will be a day on the road, and our destination for the evening will be Flagstaff, AZ. Otherwise, if you’re coming from another location outside of Santa Fe (out of state) our meeting point will be in Flagstaff. Hotel accommodations will be made according to group size. Prices may vary depending on peoples comfort levels and/or privacy needs. The only thing on our to-do list for day one is to put the finishing touches on our gear and enjoy the inviting mountain town.

Day two: We will drive to the last town before the Park entrance (Tusyan). From here we will take a taxi service provided by the Grand Canyon to the Tanner Trailhead. The Colorado looks like a long way down and it is. Nearly 4,700 ft to be exact. Our goal for the day will be to make the 8-mile descent to Tanner beach. The days will be short this time of year, but with an early start, we will have plenty of time to make our way down the canyon. As we descend the initial North facing gully the first thousand feet are the steepest. After passing through a choked up section of the drainage the trail will level out and we will be rewarded with surreal views into the 75-mile drainage. The next couple of miles are quite pleasant with moderate terrain and gorgeous scenery. The Colorado will come into view again as we near the top of the Redwall descent. This will be a very good place for a rest. From here we will have trekked about 4 miles and descended around 2,000 feet. The temps should be noticeably warmer than they were on the rim. As we pass through a cool section of the Muav limestone the views up the Colorado dominate the scenery. The ecosystems change dramatically, and before we know it we’ll be amongst the desert and the sandy beaches of the Colorado. We will make our first, well-deserved camp here along the river.

Day three: Today we will cover about ten miles on the Escalante route and experience what we feel is one of the most spectacular parts of the Grand Canyon. Our trek will start out pretty mellow hugging the river and soaking up the incredibly expansive views. About 3 miles in we will get to Unkar rapids where our climbing will begin. From this point, we will traverse towards Escalante creek gaining nearly 1,500 feet from the river. As we look back to the direction we came from it will be hard to believe what we’re seeing. The descent of Escalante creek and the trek over to 75-mile creek is a really wild and scenic part of this trip. 75 mile will lead us back down to the Colorado where we will make our second night’s camp.

Day four: The first four or so miles of our day will consist of traversing ledges and rocky terrain about 100 to 200 feet above the river. This is also a very scenic stretch. Before our climb up to the plateau, we will pass Hance Rapids and say goodbye to the Colorado River. Once on the tonto, the terrain gets much easier. A long contour around Ayer point will bring us to our first view of Horseshoe Mesa. We will spend our last night on the Tonto plateau alongside Hance Creek. Take it in! Take it all in. There is no place like this in the World. It is a true gift to experience Wilderness on this level. There aren’t many out there who do. Just know you were brought here for a reason, and that reason will be a part of you forever.

Day 5: Today we hike out, or should I say up! We will climb nearly 4,000 ft in just over four and a half miles. Whew! There is something really cool about hiking out the Grandview. It is the highest trailhead on the South Rim with what must be the most sweeping views. Chances are we’ll be greeted by the crowds as we near the top. Always an interesting scene and feeling after many days in the wild. Turn around and look. Try to process what you just experienced. It may take a while. Now the Canyon is forever in you.

johnfroehlich July 5, 2018 0

[M004] Grand Canyon – To the River and Back

Hermit to Boucher

11/10/21 – 11/13/21  &  03/09/22 – 03/12/22 

Around 5 million people visit the Grand Canyon every year, but only a small percentage of these people venture below the rim. In my years of experience trekking in the canyon, I quickly learned that this is where the true magic of this natural wonder lies.

The Hermit/Boucher loop is an epic 3-day adventure below the rim in a more remote part of the canyon’s Westside. This trek is what you would consider a lolly-pop loop meaning we will only cover the same ground in the last few miles on the last day. This trip is not for the faint-hearted nor is any backpacking trip below the rim for that matter. So, when you’re thinking of undertaking this remarkable challenge prepare yourself for an experience that you will always remember and a level of beauty that few will ever know.

Day one: If Santa Fe is our starting point day one will be a day on the road, and our destination for the evening will be Flagstaff, AZ. Otherwise if you’re coming from another location outside of Santa Fe (out of state) our meeting point will be in Flagstaff. Hotel accommodations will be made according to group size. Prices may vary depending on peoples comfort levels and/or privacy needs. The only thing on our to do list for day one is to put the finishing touches on our gear and enjoy the inviting mountain town.

Day two: We will drive to the last town before the Park entrance (Tusyan). From here we will take a taxi service provided by the Grand Canyon to our trailhead at Hermit’s Rest (6600 ft). The descent will begin. Although the going may seem easy we will take our time negotiating the way down. Our first rest will be at Santa Maria’s spring where we will have our first real glimpse into the gorge of Hermit Creek. At this point we’ll have hiked about 2 and a half miles and descended a little over 1500 feet. The next several miles will be spent traversing the supai group formation. The views from up here are spectacular. Amazing vantage points lead the way to the notorious “Cathedral stairs” (switchbacks that descend through the redwall formation). Before the switchbacks another rest may be a good idea as we are about to drop down more than a thousand feet. Finally we will reach the tonto plateau, and we will officially be in the desert. The change in eco systems is highly apparent, and the terrain will also begin to level out. We will make our first night’s camp along the stream of Hermit Canyon. Total mileage for the day will be 8.2 with a 3,600 foot descent.

Day three: Today will not be too difficult, and will be more of a day spent enjoying the inner canyon and these lower elevations. We should be able to break camp and have the opportunity to not feel rushed. We may even get to sleep in 🙂 The first part of our day will be on the tonto plateau where excellent views and the deep feeling of solitude will be had. Our first rest will be a few miles in at the dramatic Travertine canyon. Here we will get a glimpse of what the next day holds. Back onto the plateau as we traverse around Whites Butte and to our destination for the night at the junction with the Boucher Trail. After we set up camp we will set out for a short afternoon hike to the Colorado river. With much lighter packs the going should feel like a breeze. Once we near the river we will be confronted with the roaring sound of Boucher Rapids. The Colorado’s sandy beach is a rare spectacle that again only few get to experience. When we’re ready we’ll make our way back to camp for our last night below the rim.

Day four: The Boucher trail is one of my favorite trails in the Canyon. It’s challenging route finding mixed with a special feeling of remoteness make this an excitingly empowering climb out. We will spend the first few miles ascending the redwall, eventually reaching a high point just South of Whites Butte. The route up to this point is really cool and will have you wondering about the individuals who pioneered these wild routes. I’m imagining a very well earned rest will be greatly appreciated at this point. We’ll have climbed about 1500 ft from our camp. Then the interesting traverse around the head of Travertine Canyon will leave us all feeling satisfied and challenged. Yuma Point is just ahead where there are some of the most expansive views in the park. Take it in! After that the long and beautiful bench walk will connect us with the Dripping Springs Trail. From here its 2.8 miles to the rim and only 1,400 feet more to go. The last leg indeed! We can do this and we will! A fairly easy going first mile will close out our loop and the climb back to our starting point at Hermits Rest will begin. Oh how well we we’ll remember joyfully skipping down these same switchbacks just a couple days ago. The vegetation changes incredibly as we near the rim. Finally we will crest. We did it! We just completed one of the most epic trips this miraculous place has to offer! Turn around and take some breaths. This is the Grand Canyon. There’s no comparison. Another night in Flagstaff before the return home.

johnfroehlich July 5, 2018 0

[M005] Grand Canyon – Plateau Paradise

Bright Angel to Hermit’s Rest

12/01/21 – 12/05/21  &  02/09/22 – 02/13/22

There’s no experience quite like the experience of the inner canyon. It’s hard to not feel like a pioneer amidst such a grand landscape. It’s almost as if the canyon itself shares her story, but to only the one’s courageous enough to venture into the unknown. Not just into this surreal land of enchantment, but into your own depths, into your own wild nature. The canyon is alive, and there is no place in the World like it.

This 4 day 35.8 mile shuttle hike (point to point) has been designed for the adventure seeker. With a descent down the famous Bright Angel trail, two side trips to the Colorado River, a sunset stroll to Plateau point, an unforgettable contour of the tonto plateau, and a night in the majestic Monument canyon this trek will only leave you wanting more. I guarantee it!

Day one: If Santa Fe is our starting point day one will be a day on the road, and our destination for the evening will be Flagstaff, AZ. Otherwise if you’re coming from another location outside of Santa Fe (out of state) our meeting point will be in Flagstaff. Hotel accommodations will be made according to group size. Prices may vary depending on peoples comfort levels and/or privacy needs. The only thing on our to do list for day one is to put the finishing touches on our gear and enjoy the inviting mountain town.

Day two: We will drive to the last town before the Park entrance (Tusyan). From here we will take a taxi service provided by the Grand Canyon to the Bright Angel trailhead 7,000ft. Don’t be mislead by the intense amount of tourists on the rim and near the trailhead. The next few days will provide an abundance of solitude. We will see others during the trek, but at this point we essentially leave civilization behind us. Bright Angel is the most popular trail in the canyon, so we are bound to pass by many day hikers and some backpackers during the first few miles. Many will ask us if we’re going all the way down to the river, as this is such a goal and incredible accomplishment for just about everyone who visits the Canyon. We will make our way down the beautiful trail to our first nights camp at Indian Gardens 3,760, descending over 3,000 ft in 4.8 miles. There are two rest houses, which provide shelter and a nice place place for a rest. The view dominates the senses. It’s impossible to not be incredibly proud of what you’re doing in this very moment. We’ll set up camp, then if everyone’s on board we can take a sunset walk to the powerful Plateau Point where we’ll get our first look at the Colorado River. This is an amazing place to be for sunset.

Day Three: Today we will trek 11 miles on the tonto plateau. Our elevation gain and loss will be minimal as the plateau is mostly flat. There is some up and down as we enter and exit drainages but for the most part this is a smooth sailing kind of day. We are quite exposed as these altitudes, so even with the relatively easier terrain the elements can really take it out of you. The contour is awesome! The views again will have you questioning if this experience is actually real. As we near our camp at Monument Creek we should be greeted by the trickling sound of a clear desert stream. This is one of my favorite places in the canyon. Once here you will see why. Enjoy the wildness of this place. We are as far away from the road as we will get on this trek. It’s hard to imagine roads when you’re in places like this.

Day Four: Today we will spend the morning by day hiking down to the Colorado River in Monument Canyon. The three mile out and back hike is completely in the canyon with no trail. The roar of the Colorado’s Granite rapids is a great introduction to the power of this Wild and Scenic river. Once back to camp we will pack up our stuff and make our way a few miles over to the next drainage; Hermit Creek. From here we’ll make our last nights camp alongside Hermit Creek. If we’d like we can take another 3 mile side trip to visit Hermit Rapids, another unique and remote part of the canyon. This will be our last night spent below the rim. I’m sure there will be a widespread feeling of not wanting to return to civilization. Sure, there will be positives to our return, but the feeling of a deeper connection to Mother Earth is inevitable at this point. The time you have just dedicated to yourself and to this place of unimaginable beauty is yours to cherish for the rest of your days.

Day Five: Our hike out is 7.8 miles with an elevation gain of 3,650 ft. The great thing about this trip is we will have ample time to adjust to the terrain, elements, our gear, and each other. We will backtrack a mile to get to the turn-off for the climb up to the Cathedral Stairs. Say goodbye to the plateau. The switchbacking begins. After about 1,400 ft of climbing we’ll reach Breezy point ( a great place to admire the views). From here all the way to Santa Maria’s Spring (about 3.5 miles) we’ll gain about 500 feet so it is a relatively mellow section of the Hermit trail. From the spring it’s another 2 miles out and 1,600 ft or so up to get to the rim. The last leg is challenging, but the reward of what’s to come will be the empowering factor on this last day. This is an achievement beyond what most ever accomplish. To gift yourself with an experience like this may be one of the best decisions you ever make.

johnfroehlich May 14, 2016 0

[M007] Climb a 14er!

Cottonwood Creek to Crestone Peak

06/29/22 – 07/02/22

This is the most challenging and exciting trip into the Sangres we offer. It is the ultimate of summit experiences, and is solely designed for the hardy, confident, and experienced individual. There is no mountain like this! A seldom-used drainage offering deep solitude, a high alpine lake, and incredibly fun class three terrain make this the backpacking trip of a lifetime. If you are ready to step up your game and scramble up one of Colorado’s most impressive mountains then this is the trek for you.

Day one: We will leave Santa Fe at 6 am, and take the gorgeous drive into the San Luis Valley on Highway 285. A stopover in the small, inviting town of Crestone, CO will be where we say goodbye to civilization.

This trek will begin from the Cottonwood creek trailhead, just south of the town of Crestone. Portions of this trail and the trailhead itself are on private land. Access to this trailhead was closed to the public until just a few years ago. Accessing Crestone Peak from this drainage is a rare and highly coveted experience. From the trailhead (8,361ft) we will hike approximately 5 miles and climb roughly 2,500 feet to our basecamp at the Cottonwood Lake trail junction.

Day two: We will begin our ascent at 5 am. It’s a steep 3,500 ft to Crestone Peak’s remarkable summit. After about a mile and a half we will find ourselves above the timber and in the vicinity of the well-known Cottonwood Lake. A quick stroll over the rolling tundra will bring us to the base of Crestone. Here our class 3 ascent up the South facing couloir begins. This is indeed the most thrilling part of this wild adventure. Soon enough we find ourselves on one of Colorado’s highest mountain tops. Crestone Peak captivates all who aspire to climb it. This is the real thing.

Day three: We will have the opportunity for a side hike up Cottonwood canyon in the morning before our departure back to the trailhead. I envision a stop in Crestone for much-needed showers and a solid bite to eat mixed with settling back into the groove with civilization. We will head back to Santa Fe on 285. The drive should give everyone enough time for the past few days to sink in.