Filed under: Family Camping, Nature & Wildlife, Outdoor Recreation & Hiking
A Hike Not to Be Repeated–Part 1
In the mood for a hike one hot summer day in the vicinity of Taos, NM, we decided to head up to the Taos Ski Valley to see what we could find. We had already done the hike to Williams Lake twice in the past two months, so were looking for something a bit different. In perusing a map we had picked up of the Ski Valley trails, we noted that if we headed out on Long Canyon Trail, we could hook up with the Gold Hill Trail for the trip back down and make it a loop. It was decided. The Ski Valley was our choice as it was in the 90’s down in Taos and the Ski Valley is typically 15-20 degrees cooler—much better hiking weather! And more pleasant weather to be active in.
We drive to the Ski Valley, eager to get started. True to form it is a very pleasant 70 degrees up there. We are to start right from the Ski Valley by hiking on Bull of the Woods Trail, the start to the traditional long route up Wheeler Peak, New Mexico’s highest peak. This was the trail on which we got lost a number of years ago, stretching our eight hour hike to nine and a half hours. Not a pleasant memory, that one! We begin the trail, soon remembering that the first mile of this trail is mostly rock and more vertical than we are comfortable with. We are relieved when we pick up the Long Canyon Trail after .7 of a mile.
This loop hike had been described to us as a very pleasant five hour hike when you incorporate a 45 minute hike out of your way to summit Gold Hill. We are not sure we will be out five hours; we plan to see how it goes so we are unsure if we will be summiting Gold Hill. We reach the Long Canyon Trail exactly in the predicted 30 minutes, so all seems to be going well.
Well, while I can’t tell you how long the Long Canyon Trail actually is, since I have spent two full hours on it with little to see but trail and trees, I CAN tell you it is aptly named. The only other adjective I would add is “ALL-UPHILL.” Not the most pleasant hike I have ever experienced, the trail climbs a long canyon through the forest. Because of the dense tree cover, there is little to see and it is very difficult to tell where you are or how far you might have to go. There are no signs along the trail to help you out. It was pretty frustrating and probably a hike I will feel no compulsion to complete again in the near future.
The saving grace on this hike is the multitude of wildflowers blooming along the trail. At one point, most were a variety of shades of purple; quite spectacular. This trail was also described as one with a variety of wildlife, including elk, deer, bear, migratory birds and grouse. As if to punctuate the frustration of the day, we saw none, except for the little guy in the picture who posed for us on a rock.
For places to stay on your trip to New Mexico, browse Woodall’s listings of New Mexico RV camping resorts.