Ascent of Grouse Mesa on 2019-08-24
|Others in Party:||My Friend Brian|
----Only Party on Mountain
|Date:||Saturday, August 24, 2019|
|Ascent Type:||Successful Summit Attained|
| Location:||USA-New Mexico|
| Elevation:||11405 ft / 3476 m|
Ascent Trip ReportI am only interested in 11 more peaks and thus have not hiked many peaks this year. The 11 are part of the highest 176 peaks in New Mexico. The 176 include the highest 102 ranked peaks with all the unranked peaks in between. (See the list below.) These last 11 peaks take some thought and planning to get. I had been planning and thinking about Brazos Peak, elevation 11,294 and Grouse Mesa Peak, elevation 11,405 for several years. Both peaks are on private property, the Tierra Amarilla Land Grant. I did lots of research and found that the land is partly owned by Grouse Mesa Outfitters and they charge to take hunting expeditions. I called and they said that I could pay to hike the land. I paid $260. to hike the 2 peaks. This included a $60 tip.
My friend Brian came to my home at 4:00 AM and we were off. It was dark and we were part way between Albuquerque and Santa Fe when my Toyota Land Cruiser began to die. I turned the lights off and it would go, lights on and it would begin to die. Eventually it died by the side of the interstate. I called my insurance company and they began to hunt a tow truck. We waited 45 minutes and I decided to try it again. It started and we drove to a repair shop in Santa Fe. While we were waiting for it to open, we tightened a loose nut on the battery. The mechanic said that might do it, so we were off again and did not have any problems. We drove about 10 miles north of Tres Piedras on Highway 285, then turned northwest on dirt Forest Road 87, then southwest on Forest Road 93, then into the deep back country. From Highway 285 to the cow camp cabin took about 2 hours. The first 30 minutes on the dirt road was not too bad, but the last hour and a half the roads were brutal and require a high clearance 4WD vehicle. The road could especially be tough after or during a rain. We did not have that issue. We drove through 4 closed private property gates; saw a heard of prong horns and arrived much later than we had planned. I met Jonathan of Grouse Mesa Outfitters. He gave us directions to drive a little further and start near the Brazos River. Unfortunately when we left the cow camp my GPS slipped off the hood and the wheel went over it damaging it so that it only partially worked.
We started hiking at about 11:30 AM, August 24, 2019, at an elevation of 9800 feet. Immediately we had to hike cross the Brazos River. It was not much of an issue this time of year, but possibly could be in the spring. We waded across, exiting with wet boots. We hiked uphill to a ridge. It was a beautiful hike with a mixture of flower filled meadows and forest. It was a clear sunny day with gorgeous views in all directions. Most of the time we were able to hike in the meadows, but there were some times of deep forest bushwhacking. I always carry a compass but rarely ever use it. Because of my GPS troubles I was glad to have the compass. I set a reading towards the peak and in the deep forest that kept us on track. I had a 35 pound backpack which included 10 pounds water. We planned to camp on the top of Grouse Mesa. The upper elevations of the hike have no water. Because of this we made plans to carry lots of water. The last bit up the hill to Brazos Peak is hard especially with a pack, but not overly hard. We arrived at the top after hiking about 3 hours. The distance was 3.3 miles from the start. There are beautiful views in all directions from the top. It was a little breezy and chilly. We had a nice view of our next destination, Grouse Mesa. We started hiking to the mesa. The saddle between the 2 peaks is about 10,780 feet in elevation, and then there is a 625 feet rise to the top. The highpoint is on the far side of the mesa so we left our backpacks with nine tenths of a mile to the peak. We had to do some bushwhacking on the mesa top. It is a little hard to find the top because of the dense tree cover, but my GPS still worked a little to find the exact location. The top has a metal 1935 US Coast Geodetic Survey marker. It was 2.8 miles from Brazos Peak, 6.1 miles total from the start. It took us 4 hours and 45 minutes to reach the top with some stops. There are no views from the center of the mesa, no views from the very top, but there are some wonderful views from the edge of the mesa. We saw plenty of grouse on our hike and a few elk. We hiked back a mile to our backpacks, 7.1 miles for the day and set up 2 tents. We each had a little stove. I like the liquid gas and Brian had canned gas. I cooked dehydrated beef stroganoff and Brian had dehydrated beef stew. We had a nice campfire in the evening, ate S’mores, and then went to bed.
We got up at 6:45 AM, cooked dehydrated breakfast skillet and had some coffee. We packed up and before we left enjoyed some of the morning views from the edge of the mesa. We started hiking at 7:50 AM. We descended the mesa in the middle of the saddle between Brazos Peak and the Grouse Mesa. Because the GPS was not working we slipped off the saddle the wrong direction and went 1.2 miles out of our way. It was a 2.4 mile round trip mistake. I should have used the compass. After we arrived back at the saddle we descended into a little valley with a stream. There was a nice cow trail to follow down the valley. The little stream emptied into the Brazos River. I waded across in my boots. Brian did not want to have wet feet so he carried his boots across. It was an easy 1.2 miles down the Brazos Valley to the SUV. We arrived back after hiking 4.6 miles from the peak, 11.7 miles round trip from the start. The total up down elevation gain was 2770 feet with our hiking detour. Without the hiking mistake one can expect an up down elevation gain of 2418 feet. Because we slipped off the saddle the wrong way our hike for the day was 7 miles with a grand total of 14.1 miles for the 2 days. It was 11:45 AM. We drove back to the cow camp and I gave a $60 tip. I really enjoy driving on rugged 4 wheel drive roads and if any vehicle can do it the Land Cruiser will be right there. I had a fun 2 hour ride out on the tough 4 wheel drove road and then a nice drive back home.
(9 more peaks to go)
Note: Some of GPS Trek had to be drawn and includes going the wrong way.
See pictures https://peakery.com/members/Phil-Robinson/
The list……. https://www.peakbagger.com/list.aspx?lid=-925606&cid=1477
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