Too High

In photography, wander

After last weeks canyon roast, it was unanimous that this week’s outing should include some altitude. And a tent. Thanks to the love of our new Four Wheel Camper, we were long overdue for a backpacking excursion. Of course, rather than plan something modest for our reentry, we decided to go big and tackle one of the quintessential Pecos Wilderness treks: start at Jack’s Creek Campground, set up base camp at Pecos Baldy Lake and spend a day hiking to Truchas Peak via Trailrider’s Wall. We figured, despite the popularity of this itinerary, we’d be in good shape because we had a couple of precious weekdays at our disposal. However, we failed to take into consideration that the entire state of Texas had also taken a few days off to backpack in the Pecos Wilderness. Jack’s Creek Trailhead was jammed with cars when we arrived at midday. Since we didn’t want to be those people that leave their car there for three days, half in the road and in the way, we decided to start at the Panchuela Trailhead instead. We figured, no big deal, only an extra mile or so of hiking, and an extra 500 feet of elevation gain. No sweat. For some reason I was blocking the heartbreaking misery of those West-facing switchbacks at the beginning of Dockweiler Trail. And the subsequent ups and downs and through the woods and over the deadfall. Six hours later, when we finally stumbled into the Pecos Baldy Lake Basin, we were both wrecked. The next morning, despite the lingering fatigue, we hit the trail still pretending that we would peak Truchas. It was slow going (my fault), and it was almost midday when we finally arrived at the false summit of Truchas. We each took one look at the 150′ downhill scramble necessary before tackling the last 600 feet of ascent, and called an early lunch break. Then we decided there was no shame in admitting we were licked. Truchas was not in the cards for us that day. We didn’t even have it in us to do any additional exploring. Instead of venturing down to the Truchas Lakes or taking the more circuitous lower trails back to our campsite, we just turned around and retraced our steps. It was a beautiful day though. Perfect blue skies, lots of bighorn sheep, wildflowers, a bit of snow, and, of course, those incredible mountain views.

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