June 20, 2015, Sipapu Resort, NM, 65 miles to Santa Fe
New Mexico is a hidden gem. That was apparent to me when, on a Saturday, I walked through a beautiful canyon cut by the Rio Grande, and hardly anyone was down there. It wasn’t hard to get to, just a mile hike down from an easy access trailhead.
While filling up on water from a creeklet feeding into the Rio, I saw my first river otter ever! It swam under a rock. “Hey!” I fretted,”Come back!”
There has been no shortage of wildlife. Every day I set off a stampede of grazing elk. While traversing the Sangre de Cristos I saw a pack of big horned sheep soaking up the morning sun. Three times I have come within short distance to a fox, always by a creek, always panting, embarrassed because it didn’t see me before I saw it. There have been bear, longhorn deer, porcupine, hummingbirds, coyote, hawks, tiger swallow tail butterflies, swallows, and bright blue thrushes.
This route “bags” meadows and large sweeping valleys. Here you’ll find purple, white, and yellow wild flowers, volcanic rock, clear cold running streams, and forgotten homesteads and mining cabins.
This is the wilderness adventure, much like the Grand Enchantment Trail, that I’d been looking for ever since I set out to hike the Pacific Crest Trail in 2009; where you can go days without seeing another human being. There’s no drama and ego, talk of FKTs, cocky out -of -college -bros in florescent shorts going on about female hikers…she’s trail hot…
I will be the first person to thru-hike the revised route, the second person to walk it ever! Brett Tucker, who created and first walked this route back in 2012, was kind enough to share his maps; which should be available online at some point!
But I still got 65 miles left, and Brett tells me he saved the best for last. I’ll be going over the Pecos, the dramatic uplift doesn’t end at the Colorado/New Mexico line ya know.