Last week I was invited on a backpack in the San Pedro Parks wilderness of New Mexico (northwest of Albuquerque) with some older hikers I know. Since no one has done a trip report to the San Pedro's, I'm staring a reference with a picture of the trail map (not suitable for navigation):
So here we go..
(1) Description, General
(3) Gear Notes
This area is one of the "greener" wilderness areas of the Southwest as moisture-laden clouds dump their water on these mountains. "Parks" here mean large meadows for elk and fish - but cattle too.
Going up the trail after driving all morning, we set up an uneventful camp after a couple hours on the trail.
Once past the reservoir, we were surprised at how flat the wilderness area got. It still took time but seemed effortless since there were no crazy switchbacks like other wilderness trails in the southwest.
Junction where you can go north to the Continental Divide Trail
Due to impending storms we skipped the CDT and went along the Rio Anastacio, looking for a place to fish
Reflections off a fish pond. Some 6 inch Rainbow trout were in there but whatever bait you are trying to sell them, they ain't buying.
Park has some regrowth of conifers for awhile
Poles mark the route as the grass grows so fast, trails can become obscure.
We hypothesize the poles are here to guide XC skiers from nearby Cuba N.M. One of my buddies pictured here, carried a Gregory Denali (stylish but always heavy), while the other a seemingly overloaded Jam. My Zimmerbuilt suffered a lost buckle but my load was light enough where tying the ends of my hip-belt into a knot worked fine (after reducing my load by drinking a 16 oz can of Dos Equis XX, that is).
We went off course, missing one of the poles. Breaking for lunch, we heard massive amounts of thunder like we've never heard - a massive amount of rumblings of continuous thunder. We returned approximately 24 hours after we left.
Observations and Recommendations: San Pedros Parks are a designated wilderness but really a "multi-sport" area with fishing and hunting, though the ranger told me waist deep snow can linger until May. Due to the relatively flat terrain, I plan to return for cross-country snowsports if still in this area in early 2013. I'm eager to navigate using those poles. It's also a great intro backpack again due to the relatively flatness but this place gets a lot of rain and thunderstorms. I hiked the eastern part of this wilderness several years ago with another hiking party, only encounter a sheet of water as I've never seen, and spent a whole night drying out gear down south. Hopefully this adventure would be more successfulFor high-mileage ultralight outings or trail-running, I'd advise a circumnavigation of the wilderness with the CDT as it's northern boundary.
Near Cuba NM for last minute sundries (sodas, chips, beer) but pretty pricey gas, lots of what seem to be transients (secure your gear), so fill up in Albuquerque or Rio Rancho a hour south on Highway 550. If you get off the highway to Albuquerque to highway 4, after the reservation, there were some neat places to stop in Jemez Springs NM (soak in some mineral springs - a little pricey). Between there and the Reservation/main highway, there are some fishing/swimming areas right off NM 4 with paved parking for free (at this writing), open from sunrise to sunset. A few restaurants but only one was open for dinner.
Gear Notes: My frameless Zimmerbuilt Halfdome worked out fine this trip using a Prolite Plus (short) as a virtual frame inside the pack. While sleeping, I kept bottoming out a regular Prolite 1 inch thick pad, so the 1.5 Prolite Plus improved my sleep. 8 lb base weight but we added canned beer (16 oz Dos Equis).
Edits: Photo and Gear Note