Roger to your points! Thank you.
(A) Regarding a plan B, if I decide to buy a ticket, hoping for an open forest, then whatever plan B is, it would probably involve simply taking the loss on my airplane ticket, since I couldn't well afford two weeks of indoor accommodations in Santa Fe! Buying a second, last minute ticket would also stress my finances further, and seems wasteful. And, in light of what I'm looking for, as detailed below, I'm not sure where I'd buy it to, anyway.
(B) I agree wholeheartedly about the undesirability of being escorted out! If a closure occurred after I had legally entered the area, though, there would be no shame in being so informed, just disappointment. However, I expect I would already be on my way out without being told if the closure were due to actual fire. Situational awareness is key. In my experience, smoke upwind tends to make its presence known. Andrew Mattox's three part series ("Walking with Fire") here on BPL underscores that wildfire is not a matter to be taken lightly. I do have a question on this point, though: If a closure were declared, would they actually send sweeps for every trail in the wilderness? I would think that the manpower required would be utterly prohibitive, and that the authorities would have to depend, at least somewhat, on the common sense and preparedness of wilderness walkers, except perhaps on the most popular trails.
> Regarding what I was hoping for, it would probably be easiest to list my reasons why the Pecos was appealing. Here goes: Apart from the risk of being shut out altogether, the Pecos Wilderness in June was seeming to be the perfect time and place for me this year. To be practical and beneficial for me at this point, I needed to find a mountainous place:
0) that would be accessible in June, my only time this summer for an extended trip.
1) that I could get to by plane. (It is questionable whether my good old car is sufficiently reliable for long distance travel.)
2) where I could get to the trail head (perhaps even walking from the airport!) without having to rent a car. (Two week's car rental is hardly in the budget! I teach for a living. I'm careful with money, but not rich. I may have to flex on this point and eat more beans next year. I already eat lots of beans, though, and my non-hiking clothes are, many of them, purchased from the Salvation Army Store (or, failing that, on sale!)
3) where I could hike moderate daily distances (say 8-18 daily miles, at a leisurely pace) for two weeks without resupply.
4) with no campsite reservations or other artificially restrictive permitting required. (A strict itinerary just ruins things for me on a solo trip. I'm like Colin Fletcher in that way, if none other. I can live with permits, just not ones that specify locations. Land management is great, but I do not go to the backcountry to be micromanaged. I realize some folk feel differently. I'm happy for them, and they will enjoy tightly managed, spectacularly beautiful areas such as the Wonderland Trail. (but not in June!) The Great Smoky Mountains would be a great June choice for me, but reserved, designated campsites are just not my cup of tea, as least not as a legally mandated requirement. I want to hike where responsible stealth camping is legal.). By the way, I'm not an obligate solo hiker. I've enjoyed backpacking with friends old and new, but none of mine here can find two weeks. (I understand. It is a rare opportunity for me, too!)
5) with the high backcountry free enough of snow that only intervals of postholing might be necessary, and I wouldn't need to carry snowshoes. I'm not going SUL or even simply ultralight, but I AM trying to reduce equipment weight, what with all that food I plan to be carrying. Other things being equal, I would prefer someplace where my two ursacks(tm) would suffice legally, and actually, for food protection.
6) with the prospect of cool, even cold, mountain air (at least in the evenings).
7) with alpine terrain and peaks to scramble up (class 2 and/or maybe class 3. No class 4 for me on a solo trip.. I do have a 12 oz ice axe for those last little steep patches of late season snow.) Mountains nourish my soul. What Eugene said about walking in alpine terrain above treeline fits my experience to a t.
Pecos fit the bill on every one of the foregoing points. I wish I knew of a dozen other places that would do so (or even one or two)! If anyone knows of even one, I am all ears. Thanks!