Ascent of Peak 11455 on 2017-07-05
|Others in Party:||Just me.....|
----Only Party on Mountain
|Date:||Wednesday, July 5, 2017|
|Ascent Type:||Successful Summit Attained|
| Location:||USA-New Mexico|
| Elevation:||11455 ft / 3491 m|
Ascent Trip ReportTwo years ago I made plans to hike these peaks, but because of a forest fire I was not able to do so. Last year I had everything planned, but it just didn’t work out. This year it worked out! I called the forest service before going to see if there were any issues for my planned hiking route. They said there were not. I found out there was. I drove on NM highway 63 north of Pecos for about 15 miles then turned east on highway 646. (The maps say 645.) This dirt road definitely needs a 4WD vehicle. This road is about 14 miles long and because of the ruts and road conditions it takes an hour or so to drive. I drove to the point where the road meets Skyline Ridge and parked. I left my home at 4:00 AM and was hiking by 7:00, Wednesday July 5, 2017. It was a cool clear morning. The starting elevation was 10,705 feet. Almost the entire hike is hiking on a ridge, and because there are no streams on the ridge, I knew it could be an issue finding water. I had a 40 pound pack and 12 pounds of it was water. I headed north. It was difficult finding the trail for the entire hike. As a kid, in my training becoming an Eagle Scout, in Albuquerque Boy Scout Troop 166, we learned trailing. I put every bit of that skill to the test. At times it was a good trail, and if I were not paying extremely close attention it would vanish and I would be doing some very hard bushwhacking. I looked for every cracked branch, blaze on the tree, pile of rocks, slight bit of erosion, a log cut by a saw, or any other clue that might keep me on the trail. The hike to Spring Mountain went very well. There were quite a few downed trees, though not excessive. The 4.4 mile hike took 2 hours and 15 minutes there was an elevation gain of 590 feet. There are very nice views from the top! Before hiking, I asked the forest service if there were any downed trees, from past forest fires, that would make it difficult hiking the ridge. They said, “No.” They were wrong. Shortly after heading north towards Peak 11,455 there was a massive area of downed trees. I don’t know……maybe a 50,000 of them overall. I planned a round trip hike, but knew that I could only hike it one way. Just for my spirits, I could not return through that mess of downed trees. I made up in my mind, that if I went through that massive obstacle course, I would call someone and have them pick me up at the other end. I proceeded, climbing log over log over log over log……. There was no relief! I am guessing I could have hiked through this area in 20 minutes on a trail, with the downed trees it took about 2 hours and 20 minutes to get through. Finally!!!........... I continued up the difficult trail through trees and through some open spaces and made Peak 11,455, 5 hours and 50 minutes after leaving. I had hiked 9.5 miles with an elevation gain, from the start, of 1628 feet. It was 12:45 PM. The very top is mostly tree covered with no views. On mountain peaks I am usually able to get phone reception, so I made plans with my son to pick me up Saturday morning. I was hoping it would be Friday afternoon, but he was not able to do that…….. Ahhhhhh, I didn’t have to go back over the massive downed logs!!..... My plan was to spend the night on the top of Cebolla Peak, elevation 11,898 feet. On the way to Cebolla Peak there is a small peak I wanted to do, Peak 11,341. I always had to watch the trail intently because one look away and I was bushwhacking. The difficult downed treed trail was always better than bushwhacking. I was “thanking” people I did not even know for the rock cairn or the cut log that made my hiking easier! I stopped short of Cebolla Peak, took my backpack off, which felt like a nice rest, and headed directly east to hike Peak 11,341. It was just getting ready to storm with black clouds all around. It was a boulder covered hike to the top, with the sound of thunder here and there. I do lots of praying as I hike; for strength, direction, thankfulness, safety, and in this case to not be struck by lightning. I made the peak after hiking 12.2 miles in 7 hours and 45 minutes from the start. There was a total elevation gain of 2105 feet. The views are great from this little peak and I was able to get some nice pictures of some of the other peaks. I hiked back, and no sooner than I was at my backpack, it started to lightly rain. I thought it would stop soon, but ended up having to put on my rain poncho. I continued north. In a short time the rain did stop and it cleared up. The entire hike is a mix of deep trees and open spaces. The open spaces are always welcome and the views are spectacular in all directions. Shortly before the peak is water in a marsh. I saved some. (You might need this if you hike this ridge.... N 35° 55.671 W 105° 29.905) Cebolla Peak is a large mesa peak. It is covered with soft grass, tundra and high alpine wildflowers. It really has the “Wow!” factor. I arrived after hiking 15.6 miles, a tenth or two tenths of a mile more than I have ever done in a single day. The log obstacle course made it feel like 21 miles, although I was not too tired, and full of energy and invigoration the entire hike. It took 10 hours and 20 minutes from the start, with an overall elevation gain of 2906 feet. It was 5:17 PM. I set my tent up on the very top and marveled at the views until leaving the next morning. I don’t like bottled gas stoves and take with me my MSR DragonFly liquid fuel stove. It is very light weight and the fuel bottle doubles as a tank. It cooks quickly, works well at a high elevation, nothing to throw out, and my small bottle will last for days. I cooked up a dehydrated chicken, beans, corn and rice dinner. It was so-so. The raspberry crisp dessert was great! I thought of sleeping out under the stars but after such a long hike wanted the comfort of the tent. Watching the sunset on the mountains and wildflowers was amazing! It was a waxing gibbous moon, just short of full, and I got up in the middle of the night to look around and be amazed!
I got up at 6:00 AM, but took my time leaving. I had coffee and granola with milk and blueberries. I took pictures and enjoyed the sunrise views. I saw elk on the peak mesa top with me and saw various elk, deer and grouse the entire trip. I left at 8:40 AM and headed out on the ridge towards Peak 12,136. It was at times open country, and then other times it was tree covered ridge. I knew that I would probably have to harvest snow and came across my first snow along the way. (You might need this… N 35° 56.901 W 105° 29.298) It is important to dig deep in the snow. Sometimes there might be mosquito larva in the top layer. I filled my clear 100 ounce water pouch with snow and packed it down. I left it outside my pack for the sun to shine on, and in a short time had plenty of water. I did the snow harvesting twice. Peak 12,136 is above the timberline. It took about 4 hours to reach the top from camp. It was 21 1/3 miles from the start, with a total elevation gain of 3789 feet. I hardly notice the weight of my backpack. I meant to leave it a mile or so back to pick up when I doubled back, instead I carried it to the top. I took pictures, and then headed back towards the way I had come up. At the top of Bordo ridge I continued on a new direction. I went south across a large open area, then bushwhacking through the trees. About a third of the trees are dead but they are still standing, so it was fairly easy bushwhacking. Give it 50 years and this will be a hard way to go. After some hiking, I met up with the trail. The downed trees had not been cleared on this trail and there were plenty! It was difficult on the trail, but much easier than bushwhacking. I still had to use all my tracking skills and pay close attention every second so I would not veer from the trail. I thought about spending the night on top of Bordo del Medio Peak, elevation 11,220, but when I got to the top I said, “No way!” It is one of the least interesting peak tops I have ever been on. It is densely covered with trees both standing and fallen. I had now hiked 28 miles. It was 8 hours and 45 minutes from breakfast. The elevation gain from the start was 4435 feet. I went 7 tenths of a mile down the trail and to my delight found a spring in a beautiful meadow area. I could have drunk straight from the source without purification, but I purified it anyway. I hiked 28.7 miles. This is the most I have ever done in 2 days. I was thrilled to have gotten all 6 peaks! (The last 25 days I have hiked 16 peaks. This might be the most I have ever done it that short of period of time.) It was 6:00 PM. I set up camp, cooked my favorite dehydrated meal, beef stroganoff, and then read a little before going to bed.
I got up at 6:45 and again took my time leaving. I cooked a dehydrated mix of; egg, sausage, pepper, and potatoes breakfast along with coffee and granola. I started hiking down at 9:30 AM. I had now been hiking for 3 days and had not seen another person. As a 62 year old, remembering back in the days when people used to go outdoors, before virtual outdoors, the area was so busy in the summer a permit was required to hike in this beautiful Pecos Wilderness. I like hiking with friends and family, yet except for the trail conditions, I prefer the solitude of this time period. I am a techie and my 6 children have always come to me for techie help, yet think about it……..Before coming to earth would you choose to have your “virtual connectors” really attached to your eyes, hands, and legs or come to earth looking at a little screen. My son Brandon said he wished he had grown up when I did, a time when kids played……TRUE “virtual reality” play!............Anyway…….. The trail improved as I got closer to the bottom. I saw a couple of camps. The people must have been out and about. Towards the very end I saw a couple of people hiking up. I arrived back after hiking 6 ½ hours. The total distance was 39.5 miles. The most I have ever done in 3 days. The total elevation gain was over a vertical mile, 5430 feet. It was kind of nice to slow down and spend an extra night. Iron Gate is a nice camping and horse departure area. The elevation is 9377 feet and it is a beautiful forested camping area. I did enjoy talking with some of the people in the camp. There was a small group, from NM Outback Horseman, who volunteer to clear and repair trails. One man and his wife cut 100 logs to clear trails and repair trails on their last outing. They were heading out again in the morning. I told them that they were the people that I “Thank” as I hike along. It was a delight to be able to “Thank!” them in person for making my hike easier. I had dehydrated beef stew. For dessert I had chocolate mousse with gram cracker crumbs. My son Garret and grandson Luke arrived at about 10:30 AM Saturday. He drove me nearly 2 hours to reach my SUV. We had a wonderful rest of the day together, panning for gold, (None found) and watching my 4 year old grandson fish, (None caught) and eating dinner together. What a joy being with them!
|Summary Total Data|
| Total Elevation Gain:||1038 ft / 316 m|
| Total Elevation Loss:||763 ft / 232 m|
| Route Conditions:||Unmaintained Trail, Open Country, Bushwhack|
| Gear Used:||Tent Camp|
| Gain on way in:||1038 ft / 316 m|
| Gain Breakdown:||Net: 275 ft / 84 m; Extra: 763 ft / 232m|
| Loss on way in:||763 ft / 232 m|
| Distance:||5.1 mi / 8.2 km|
| Route:||North on Skyline Ridge Tr from Spring Mt|
| Start Trailhead:||From Spring Mountain North 11180 ft / 3407 m|
| Time:||3 Hours 35 Minutes|
|Ascent Part of Trip: Spring Mt - Peak 12136 +4 (3 nights total away from roads)|
Complete Trip Sequence:
Total Trip Gain: 6460 ft / 1968 m Total Trip Loss: 7788 ft / 2374 m
|GPS Data for Ascent/Trip|
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Peaks: climbed and unclimbed by Phil Robinson
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