|Hiking||11.30 Miles|| 6 Hrs 10 Mns ||1.97 mph|
|2,572 ft AEG|| 25 Mns Break||18 LBS Pack|
||no linked trail guides|
|2020 New Mexico trip Hike #5 - Continental Divide Trail Mile 181.8 to 187.5|
After four hikes of Tracey's vacation she is just now getting into the hiking groove, shedding the cobwebs of mostly sitting at a desk since Covid-19 changed our world.
This was the second time starting from this CDT trailhead on NM 15, conveniently located hike within 2 miles of our AirBnB. With a slightly earlier start we had 49 degrees and mid-70's at the end.
We started at the "Arrastra" point-of-interest site just off NM 15, and for the first 1.5 miles we ascended 800+ feet along an ancient (mining?) road, sometimes it flattened a bit but every climb was a real workout, enough so the pain from my left hip was practically taking my breath away. It was too soon to give up and turn around, so I just kept it to myself, resurrected my mental bio-feedback tools and spent more time taking in the scenery.
Once at the top of the first climb we were back on an old road again for the next 2 miles, the first 1/3 being a steady downhill with enough orange to grapefruit-sized volcanic rocks to keep your eyes glued to the trail, 1/3 of it flat along a long ridge (the most pleasant part) and the last 1/3 beginning the ascent toward the first of the Twin Sisters.
As we began the steep and rockier climb to the Twin Sisters coming up to 4 miles out, my hip brought its displeasure to the forefront, so much so this time it actually DID take my breath away, bringing me to a dead stop. I didn't dare sit down as I wasn't sure I could get back up. Tracey had been a bit behind me so when she caught up she just assumed I was waiting for her to point out something of interest. When I told her what stopped me she re-affirmed the idea we really did not have any particular destination, and if we had to turn back now, so be it.
But after a few minutes of a heavy dose of bio-feedback, I looked at the FS Topo map and it appeared we would NOT be following the ups & downs of the old pre-fire CDT route and skirt the Twin Sisters along the contour instead.
Ok, so let's go another hundred yards and see how it goes. Viola! Sure enough, at our request, what do we have but a nice smooth, even tread around the mountains. And just like that my hip muted its complaint, and the rest of the way to our planned "5-mile turn-around-point was a distinct pleasure... a nice shady, cool walk with the background music of the breeze whistling through the pines.
And of course, due to the changes to the CDT route after the last fire, the 4-mile, 4.5-mile and 5-mile waypoints on my track were some distance off. Only when we returned to the TH would we realize how far off.
Luckily, my "5-mile" point provided us a perfect spot for our lunch break. After 25 minutes I felt we better head back before I get too used to sitting still.
(More like standing still... again I didn't dare sit down for more than a few minutes at a time.)
For some unknown but very pleasant reason the return trip went SO much easier. Sure, most of it was downhill but almost all the hazards I had kept my eyes peeled for on the way out seemed no longer to be hazards. Maybe I had been so focused on them earlier that they were burned into my memory and I no longer had to pay that much attention. Either that or I was in a trance.
Just as we were about to begin the last long (boring and in-the-sun) descent, I saw the old road had continued up to the summit of Peak 7640 and asked Tracey if she was up for a quick walk to the summit. No way... she said "You go ahead, I'll wait here" while subliminally thinking, "don't worry I'll keep my back to the wall so no mountain lion can sneak up on me."
As beat as I was 4-1/2 miles ago, somehow I had the energy to make quick work of another 150' climb to the summit. But for what?! Due to thick vegetation there were absolutely no views to be had. Oh well, after getting that out of my system I could now be satisfied I had pulled out the most enjoyment (and the most pain) of any hike so far on this trip.
Tracey was still sitting patiently when I returned, and from there on all we had was the last 1.5 mile descent, which most of which would now be in the direct sun so it was warm.
Whoops... almost forgot to mention the saddle between the Twin Sisters. We did see a trail going up to the bare slick rock saddle between the peaks, and we actually did make an attempt, for about 25 feet. It was far too steep and loose a slope to take a chance, for what? A higher viewpoint? While the northern Twin Sister was an LoJ peak to bag, I can accept the fact most of my peak bagging days are over.
In summation, while this hike provided plenty of ups-and-downs physically, mentally and geographically, at the end-of-the-day I felt great. And wonder of wonders, I will awake tomorrow with an eagerness to take on an even steeper hike, but thankfully it will be shorter.
NOTE: I posted a GPS file including all the parts of the CDT we hiked as one single northbound track as well as the Burro Peak CDT NM06 hike.
GPS Route: Continental Divide Trail NM07 Mile 169 to 188