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Taos NM area basecamping
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Hk Newman
(hknewman) - MLife

Locale: Western US
Taos NM area basecamping on 06/23/2013 10:00:18 MDT Print View

Despite the current rash of Southwestern wildfires, there are some areas still open for hiking. The Pecos being closed, the party I was hiking with switched to Latir Peak and Wheeler Peak north of Taos NM. Taos is located just below the Colorado-New Mexico border, so I did a lightweight base-camp trip in the Latir Peak wilderness. It's small (think a 5mi x 5 mi x 5 mi triangle trail system so not sure it's worth a lightweight "trail report"), so we did a basecamp sticking to the main lake about 5 miles from the TH (all uphill, so all you can see is your fellow hikers heels up the trail). Rainy start at lunchtime, so just set up shelter after arriving at about 3 pm and crashed in the tents as the rain fell.

wet camp

Foggy morning for breakfast Foggy am basecamp

Dayhiking around and through Latir Mesa Day 2north of latir mesa

The Latir Lakes are on private land with a different (vehicle) access for a fee, so we just looked from the higher USFS land. I saturated this but still did not get the turquoise blue of the lakes
Up on the mesahiking latir mesa
Mama goat on Latir Mesa Peak w/ babyMama goat
Colorado/New Mexico border to the north:towards colorado
Day 3 - Baldy mountain peak bagging
At the end of Day 3 we went into Taos and carb up for the highest point in NM, Wheeler Peak

Day 4 - Wheeler Peak (via the relatively new Williams Lake trail), so here I overlook the Taos Ski Valley as moving up towards Wheeler Pk
Wheeler overlooking Taos Ski Valley
Wheeler Pk
Wheeler Peak NM

Treat at Taos Cow (nationally ranked ice cream parlor) in Arroyo Seco north of Taos, NM.
taos cow actualTaos cow

I would recommend this as an alternative to the Pecos wilderness, especially if a backpacker did not have 3 full days to do a loop in the Pecos. Could do Latir as an overnight or 2 loop using the Bull trail/Main trail intersection but the steepness of the trails out of Heart Lake shouldn't be underestimated. We went off-trail quite a bit but there are many loose rocks for those using lighter footwear.

Edited by hknewman on 06/23/2013 17:33:55 MDT.

Mina Loomis
(elmvine) - MLife

Locale: Central Texas
Timely on 06/24/2013 14:13:20 MDT Print View

Your report is especially timely for me this week. I have a group of 13 Camp Fire teens all getting ready for our summer trip to the mountains *next week* (!). We are coming from Austin, Texas. Our usual destination is Pecos Wilderness. Closed early this month. So I started looking at the Gila. Then they closed the high country there. Most of the eastern lower elevations in the Gila Wilderness are still open but my group really wants to go high enough to escape the 90 deg + heat. So I started looking at the Pagosa Springs area. More fires! They've closed that!

Your pictures look like a good area for my group. We go out Monday afternoon through Friday lunch, 4 nights, maybe a layover day on Wednesday. 4-6 miles on Tuesday and Thursday, less on Monday and Friday. So we don't need a lot of mileage. Just enough to make it a real backpacking trip. Most of these kids are beginners, ages 11-14, with a couple of 16 year olds. A few parents.

However, at this point I'm not even sure how to lay my hands on the necessary maps, since there's not time to mail order them. What topi maps cover the area? Just the USGS quads, or is there anything enhanced or updated that applies, that can be downloaded in a hurry?

Suggestions would be appreciated.