Friday, I got away for a quick 24 hour trip (due to work) to the Apache Kid wilderness between Albuquerque NM and Las Cruces NM. It is a seldom visited wilderness area and about 30 minutes on gravel NM road to get to the Springtime TH and CG (7500 ft) , so we arrived after lunch the nearby town of Truth or Consequences, NM (about 1:30 pm).
The forecast called for 30% rain and delivered all 30% as we started hiking. We stopped the vehicles just as the light freezing rain started, so I quickly changed into what was supposed to be my sleepwear (Cap 2 zipT). Another backpacker pulled up and started unloading a massive pack with what he said had 4 gallons of water and a rifle strapped to one side . Quickly donning our packs we started our climb of seemingly endless switchbacks up 2600 ft (approx. 2 + hours) plus 4-5 miles to San Mateo Lookout/Peak (10,142 ft), trying to arrive before sunset. Skipping the fleece on the way up, I had some problems with my layers under a wind, then rain, then both shells, .. than my buddy wearing jeans, though he quickly chilled on any sort of break. Ascending into the clouds as they got thicker, rain turned to sleet. It topped out for a little bit and we found part of San Mateo spring.
Don’t forget your pre-filter.
We expected dry conditions so packed all our water. Probably wise since we would have spent time pre-filtering anyways. A couple large switchbacks brought us to a central trail junction and a decision. We chose to go straight up the middle up to the lookout.
Green moss against the first slushy snow
Battered by relentless sleet and wind I led up to the lookout, except we could not see very far as we headed deeper into the cloud, so it wasn’t really a lookout this evening. Though protected my camera was either getting the outside wet from too falling moisture or too much vapor from my body if I kept it in a pocket.
Not that there was much view to savor, … more storm was our only reward. Here's the lookout and cabin the next morning which was a little calmer …
We went inside an unlocked FS cabin to dry off, change layers, and cook dinner. Attention went to an iPad with a Trimble app that received GPS signals throughout our trip and I made a mental note to check it out. A thermometer outside revealed the temps hovered just around freezing but never plunged below. The howling wind never stopped however. After dinner, hot chocolate, tea, etc… we looked up and above the lenticular clouds, through sometimes inside a break, the full moon hung out surrounded by a clear sky … for everyone else who was off the mountain. So there we were …
Nothing else was happening that night so everyone fell asleep early.
Morning was leasurely coffee and waiting for the sunrise. We were still in the clouds but it was far less windwhipped.
Descending we started to hit more sunlight and I switched into a windshirt and just plain nyco pants. Coming down to the spring we met the heavy packer from the parking lot who had made it 2 miles and 1500 ft the day before, …. going up to the cabin. I kind of winced at the load on his back but to each his own. At the halfway mark ridge, I took a picture with Elephant Butte reservoir shining in the distance:
End-state: We remarked that it was enough adventure to get a wilderness fix despite being quick and a 5:30 pm sunset… with battling the elements, lighting a fire, etc… Maybe a little adventure makes a 24 more satisfying?