“That’s the Hardy Spirit”

In photography, wander

As I mentioned in the last update, we’ve been acquiring some new equipment, and before launching ourselves on an epic multi-day snow adventure, we figured we’d better undertake a short shakedown cruise to test the gear and our fitness. Reporting a 27″ snow base (not bad for the end of November) the trails around the Sante Fe ski area seemed a good nearby choice for a short overnight snowshoe trip, and we chose the 3 mile trail to Nambe Lake. The trip to Nambe Lake is popular, so we didn’t need to break a trail on the steep climb up Winsor Trail. There was a steady parade of folks coming and going on the trail, although, apparently, no other folks planned on staying the night, as our large packs elicited numerous comments, including that of a back country skier who approved of our “hardy spirit”. As a matter of fact, the trail is so well trampled, on the hike out the next day, we switched to crampons to get better purchase on the icy downhill switchbacks. However, when we reached the Nambe creek drainage, there was plenty of deep powder, and we got a good workout navigating the steep slopes. Unfortunately, we had to stop just shy of the end goal, Nambe Lake. We were following one of the numerous tracks that crisscross the area when my snowshoe plunged through 30″ of snow to find the creek hidden below. Needless to say, after digging out my slush-encased frozen foot, we quickly found a good campsite on the slope above the creek so I could warm up my numb toes. Fortunately, the rest of the trip was uneventful: the weather at 11,200 ft was relatively mild and the  new McMansion of a tent was easy to pitch. I admit, the two backpack garage proved to be super handy for sorting through and storing all the snow covered gear. We took advantage of the long dark hours in the tent to analyze our packing list and contemplate which items of clothing would need to be swapped out as the weather becomes more challenging. And of course, with a solidly frozen leather backpacking boot on hand, I was rethinking the wisdom of purchasing two part plastic mountaineering boots for these winter treks. And yes, we’re already plotting our next snowy trip.

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